Aug 072014
 
Save your Lightroom photo work

For those new to Lightroom, naturally you want to understand how to save your work. You’ll notice that the File menu in the menu bar suspiciously does not have “File Save” and “File Save As …” options. The short answer is that as you work in Lightroom – adding keywords, stars, flags and other metadata; developing your photos; creating collections and more, your work is being saved automatically, so there is no need to do a “save” before you wrap up your session.

More on Saving and the Lightroom Catalog

It’s worth understanding this in more detail though. First, Lightroom works non-destructively – meaning that it never touches your master photo files. Instead, your Develop work is saved automatically behind the scenes as a set of instructions.  In Lightroom you are essentially seeing the instructions hovering over your master photos, but the instructions are not baked in to your  masters. This is great, as it means that you can undo all or part of your work at any time – you can’t ruin your photo as you work on it!

lightroom-non-destructive-editing-small

This work or instructions are automatically saved into Lightroom’s catalog. The catalog is simply a file on your computer where your work on each of your photos in Lightroom is stored, along with other information about your photos. The catalog doesn’t contain the photos themselves, just information about them. (Read more about the Lightroom catalog and how it relates to your photos in this article.)

Is Exporting Another Way to Save My Work?

When you want to share your edited photos with the outside world, of course you can’t send people the originals plus a set of Lightroom instructions. This is when you need to create copies of your photos, with the work “baked in”. We do this through the Export dialog – usually we create JPEG copies to share online, through email, to send out to print, etc.

Note that many users believe they need to export all their worked files in order to save their work – this is not the case, and will simply clutter up your hard drive with unnecessary copies. Furthermore, on these copies you can’t undo your work – it has been baked in. For most people, export only when you want to share photos, and once you do, delete the exported copies, since you can always create new ones to share.

The Importance of Catalog Backups

You can imagine, since the Lightroom catalog contains all the work you have ever done on any of your photos, that it is important to back it up – to protect you against two potential crises: (1) the catalog file could become corrupt and be impossible to open, and (2) your hard drive could crash or be stolen or damaged. To protect against the first, back up your catalog using the prompt when Lightroom closes – this creates a series of backups over time that you can revert to, should your main catalog become corrupt. To protect against the second, use backup software outside of Lightroom (Mac Time Machine, Windows Backup, other third party software) to back up the hard drives your catalog and photos are stored on. Read more about backing up your Lightroom catalog and photos in this article. To see where your catalog is stored, in the menu bar in the top left, go to Lightroom (Mac) or Edit (PC) , Catalog Settings. It is listed on the General tab:

lightroom-catalog-location

What I have explained so far is all that I believe beginners absolutely must know. For those who want an additional layer of protection and don’t mind delving into the topic more, there is also the option to “save to XMP“, which also puts the instruction data in the folders along with your master photos. I will cover this topic in another post soon, but for now understand that this is not a substitute for saving into the catalog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter below to hear about new articles and tutorials!


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Jun 032014
 

Lightroom Catalog PanelI get this question frequently, or more specifically,  how to move photos from Previous Import or All Photographs, which are entries in the Catalog panel.  Your photos actually never reside in the Catalog panel – they reside instead in folders, which are displayed in the Folders panel. Therefore it is not meaningful to “move photos from the Catalog panel.”

Lightroom Catalog PanelThe Catalog panel simply has shortcuts to various groups of these same photos, for your convenience:

  • All Photographs: every photo in your Lightroom catalog (in every folder)
  • Current or Previous Import: photos you last imported
  • Quick Collection: a temporary collection of photos
  • Other entries: based on tasks that you have performed, such as exporting photos into a new catalog, importing from another catalog, finding missing photos, etc.

If you have an entry in the Catalog panel selected and want to get to the folder that one of the photos displayed resides in, right-click in the photo and choose Go to Folder in Library. Lightroom will jump to that folder, and it will be highlighted in the Folders panel.


 

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Mar 202014
 
Photo cube

Many of you have Lightroom 5 catalogs with filenames such as “Lightroom 4 Catalog-2-2”. While Lightroom doesn’t care what the catalog is named, I of course find it less confusing that the filename reflect what it actually is. In this short video tutorial, I’ll show you how to safely rename your Lightroom catalog and the associated Previews file. You’ll also learn in this video how to move your catalog.

For best quality, hit Play, and then click on the sprocket wheel in the bottom left and choose 720 HD from the Quality dropdown.



Related Posts:

About Your Images and The Lightroom Catalog

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May 112012
 

Lightroom catalog with no photosThis is one of the most common, and certainly the most stress-filled request I get for help. You open up Lightroom, and there is nothing there — all the photos you have imported and worked on are gone. Fortunately, this usually isn’t the disaster that it at first seems to be.

When you are in Lightroom, you are looking at Lightroom’s catalog. You can read more about the relationship between the catalog and your photos in my earlier post, About Your Images and the Lightroom Catalog.  In a nutshell, the catalog contains all the information about your photos, all the work you do on your photos, and some snapshots of your photos, but not the photos (original raw files, jpegs) themselves.  If you open Lightroom and it is blank, you have a catalog with no information about any photos, but your photos are almost certainly still sitting safely on your hard drive as they were before.

Assuming you aren’t just starting out with Lightroom, why would the catalog be blank?  It is usually because for one of various reasons, Lightroom forgot about or couldn’t find the  one you were working with, and therefore opened up a blank new one.  Continue reading »

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Jul 242011
 

I get emails from around the world  from people in panic-mode over Lightroom-related issues.  Some of these can be easily cured, but sadly, some are fatal.    I do consulting in-person and over the web and phone/Skype, so you can always contact me to help you work through your issues (sorry, yes, that was a blatant plug), but I thought I would recommend some preventative medicine first.  It is a chance for me to pull together some older posts that you might not otherwise come across.

Once you understand how Lightroom works you may think some of these are silly, but they are real misconceptions, and many real tears have been shed.  It is understandable, given that Lightroom works differently from other photo programs people have used. Continue reading »

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Apr 152010
 

(Updated 7/21/11)

A reader pointed out recently that I have never written a post on the topic of doing backups — both backing up your Lightroom catalog and your images.  I was surprised by this since I agree it is a very, very important topic.  I checked back through the archives, and  indeed, he was right.

Have you ever  thought (as I did today) that you would burst into tears or have to break open a bottle (before noon!) if you lost Lightroom work you did or images you captured?  If so, you are going too long between backups.

Let’s first go back to a public library analogy for Lightroom:  if the stacks of books burned down but the card or web catalog was saved, could the library function?  Could it function if the stacks were saved but the catalog was destroyed?  Of course the answer in both cases is no.  It is true that it would take less time, expense and effort to recover from the catalog destruction, but both are critical pieces to the functioning of the public library.  With Lightroom, your images are like the stacks of books and the Lightroom catalog is like the card catalog in the library.  When you think of backing up your photo library, you need to plan to back up both the images and the Lightroom catalog. Continue reading »

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