Can I use Lightroom without it taking over my filing system?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by mike_sea, Dec 17, 2018.

  1. Hi All,

    I have been a long time Photoshop user and recently I have seen a couple of things in Lightroom that may have convinced me to finally get a copy.

    One of my concerns is that I have a very long standing and robust filing system going back more than a decade with the only updates coming from new cameras in my stable. I have been told (possibly incorrectly) that Lightroom MUST take over my whole filing systems of images. Given the TerraBytes of images I have that would need to be catalogued this would be enourmus, I would like to stay with my old system and bring images or folders into LR for working on and saving them back with my system in place.

    Is this a dream or do I have incorrect information in this regard?

    Thanks in Advance

  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Lightroom doesn't take over your "filing system." It simply creates pointers into that system. Nothing changes.
  3. There is a difference between a catalog and the actual structure used on the hard disk (folder/filename etc.). You can import everything into the Lightroom catalog without moving files around, and when importing new images using lightroom, you can select where to place the files, so you can keep your system. You can also import selected folders, as you need/want. And in lightroom itself, rather than showing the default 'catalog' view, you can also browse your folder structure. So, it's not a dream, and the info you received isn't accurate.
    A competing product, CaptureOne, has a nicer option for your wishes called 'Sessions' which does pretty much what you describe, and alongside it has a catalog like LR has. But C1 is a bit more expensive and its User interface may not be to the taste of all (though the same can be said about Lightroom).

    It is not unlikely though you will find quickly that a catalog is a lot more flexible since it allows you to sort/filter on a much wider number of aspects, and combine filters (which a folder structure cannot ever do). Frankly, I've yet to see a filing structure that beats having a catalog, so I would certainly try out the catalog functions and see how it can actually provide a more flexible and robust approach.
    de_isaacs and mike_sea like this.
  4. No problem, store your images as before. Use the lightroom import function to select a folder to import. Add keywords for the entire import. Once Lightroom imports, it has a database of where each image is stored, keywords, ratings, edits, etc. maintained in its "catalog". Think about managing catalogs - you can have many. A single huge catalog works but can limit performance. I create a catalog for each year (matches my storage hierarchy). I also keep a master catalog with highest rated images that is formed by exporting from the yearly catalog followed by import to the master.
    mike_sea likes this.
  5. If running when you insert a memory card, Lightroom will attempt to save the images in a place of its choosing. You can cancel that download and do it manually, then Import new images from the folder(s) you designate. I create a separate folder for each project, often a day's shooting, with a date code and brief description in the title, then use the Import function in Lightroom. That process keeps my photos organized, and located where I can easily find them using other applications too.
    mike_sea likes this.
  6. You can use the same system. Lightroom creates pointers. One issue is that once you do import into lightroom, it is best to move files in the lightroom programs (it takes care of moving the files on the harddrive and changing the pointers). Otherwise Lightroom will have the pointers in the wrong place and you will have to tell it where you moved it to. But you should not be moving files significantly anyway once they are on your harddrive.
    mike_sea likes this.
  7. As others have said, Lightroom doesn't change the location of your photos (unless you explicitly move photos between folders in Lightroom).
    However you've organized your photos in folders on your PC, Lightroom works with that and just stores 'pointers' to wherever your photos are stored.

    Lightroom gives you multiple ways of (virtually) organizing your photos:
    > you can create multiple separate catalogs, each of which contains any photos you choose to import into it
    - In each catalog, you can import new photos, remove photos (without deleting them from disk), tag the photos, rate them, flag them, assign them colors, etc. and filter your view of the catalog by Exif data, tag, rating, color, etc.
    > in each catalog you can also define 'collections' of photos
    > and more

    None of this changes where you've stored your photos. A catalog is simply a 'view' of imported photo's based on any cataloging data you add (tags, rating, etc) and any (non-destructive) adjustments you've made to photos in the catalog. Changes only become permanent if you 'export' a new photo. Photos can be imported into multiple catalogs or be part of multiple collections. You can create multiple 'virtual copies' of a photo to compare different adjustments even though you still retain only one image file on disk.

    For simplicity, I normally use just one main catalog with all my photos shown in their folders (ordered by year, month and date). Under the Library tab, there's an option called 'show photos in sub-folders' and I use the 'Folder View' pretty much all the time to view photos taken in a specific year, month or date. Not the most sophisticated organization but it works for me.
    I do create separate catalogs for larger projects (in my case 'events').
    mike_sea likes this.
  8. When you Import images into Lightroom, you have three options (plus an option to generate DNG files from RAW).

    1) COPY - This will copy the original file to a location you designate. The original is left in its location and a copy is created at the destination location. Pointers are built in the catalog pointing to the image in the destination location and thumbnail images are generated. This is usually used to import images from your camera data card to your PC.

    2) MOVE - This is like the COPY function except the original data is erased from the source location. Once again pointers are generated in the catalog pointing to the destination images and thumbnails are generated.

    3) ADD - No image data is moved; your images remain where they are. Pointers are generated in the catalog pointing to your original (and only) data location; thumbnails are generated. This is the option you probably want to use when you first install Lightroom.

    Now a few caveats.

    1) Once you have Imported images into Lightroom, do not use the computer operating system utilities (like File Explorer in Windows) to move the images to a new location, because the pointers in the Lightroom catalog will still be pointing to the old location, and of course, they will no longer be there. Use Lightroom to move the images. Lightroom will invoke the operating move utilities and will update the pointers in the catalog.

    2) Thumbnails are generated by Lightroom for each image imported into the catalog. This results in a significant amount of new data being generated. The thumbnails are stored with the Lightroom catalog in a subdirectory. Give some consideration where you want the Lightroom catalog to reside. You write you have "terabytes of images". The default location for the catalog is in the "Pictures" subdirectory which by default resides on the Windows boot drive (C: drive). If you have a small or full boot drive, you may wish to place the catalog on another drive.
    mike_sea likes this.

    I feel like a kid on his first assignment again, lots of enthusiasm and no idea what I am doing.

    I have in the order of 300k images (I really don't actually know but in that neighborhood). I store them externally with live back up etc in a central HDD multiple bay using sync toy in a simple raid configuration. I can use two different computers to access these images if needed.

    For current work however, I can be on either computer depending on the type of job it is. As a result, I often have images in two or three different places and during the back up process multiple duplicates before the client gets their work and I clear out the local computers files.

    Does this mean:
    1. I will have 300,000 error messages each time I log in when the back up system is not connected of switched on?
    2. given the number of images will 2 x 300,000 images struggle with regards to running Lr?
    3. If I go the Lr way, should I give up on my 2 decade workflow that has NEVER failed me?
    4. Given the knowledge base here, is there anything else I should consider?

    Thank again
  10. You can have duplicate files in two or more places, but only connect LR to one of the disks. You would do this if one drive were strictly a backup.

    If you need to access one library disk with two (or more) computers, the simple way is to designate one computer as the host and share the disks, directories or files. You could do the same with the LR library file. The host computer must be running for sharing to work.

    Another alternative is to put your main library on a network drive, which can also be set up as a RAID. You can even access a network drive when you're away from home. Some drives have two ethernet ports for speed or as a backup connection, but you should use only one. I find that Lightroom may get confused, and import aomw files from one address and the rest from the other, switching for no apparent reason.

    Lightroom is not scalable to multiusers. It's behavior might be unpredictable if two users tried to operate on the same library at the same time.
    mike_sea likes this.
  11. May I suggest you read this book:

    or this one:

    I got the first book from my local library and read it before I purchased Lightroom 6; it answered many questions and helped me decide I wanted to purchase Lightroom. Then I bought the book.

    Mr Evening is a professional photographer. He also works on multiple computers at multiple sites. He uses the Catalog Export/Import functions to support this.
    mike_sea likes this.
  12. I have bitten the bullet so to speak, Lr is installed on both my main computers. Trying to import just a single folder will be a challenge because it seems to want to work to the beat of its own drum. with 352,926 images...I really don't want to troll through that huge pointer file every time I open it up.

    It was the confidence offered and insights from here that got this sale for Adobe, not that they would even care.

    I got some lightning today so am trying to get them in to see how it handles D5 RAW images..

    The adventure continues.

    With help from some friends.

    Thanks to all and I hope this helps others.

  13. Consider Lightroom as a database for indexing, keywording, rating, and searching your images. I happens to have a photo editor built into it. When you import, you navigate to your storage folders and database maintains that path. If you move the images, Lightroom will let you select a different folder. Lightroom requires the catalog database to be stored on a local hard drive, but the images can be on network stores. Overlaid on top of the storage folder system is Lightroom's Collections which can contain images from multiple storage folders. A very rich set of management capabilities and there are many strategies you can use. Experiment and learn.
    mike_sea likes this.
  14. I transfer my pictures on my computer through the aged Canon Zoombrowser, inserting the date in the file’s name, along my own “old” file structures (year, date), then I select these pictures with Canon Digital Professional, eliminating those I don’t want to keep.

    Then, and only then, do I import these pictures in Lightroom.

    Lightroom is at your service… not the other way around.
    mike_sea likes this.
  15. Hey All,

    Despite the journey it seems it is all for zero. One of the main reasons for the purchase was because I couldn't get Nikon D5 RAW images open in CS5. I went through the who DNG converter but discovered my 23Mb images came out to 18 Mb. I just didn't like the idea of losing about 1/4 of my can't be a good thing. Hence the journey to Lightroom that I believed would open my RAW files.

    I bought Lr, installed Bridge (latest version) and did the appropriate updates etc. Bridge can clearly see the RAW images but still refuses to open the RAW files. Apparently, after putting my money down on the table and doing all the right things, I still don't have a "QUALIFYING PRODUCT" that will open RAW.

    I am so confused at this point that I don't know if I an stupid, been conned by Adobe, they have done this to their long time clients before, and this is their was them softly extorting you into their subscription package or that I have missed some minor point. I carry around $20k worth of equipment, I assure you that I am not being a cheapskate by wanting a simple licence.

    From happiness to frustration.

    Is what I am asking for a bridge (pun intended too far)?
  16. Mike, you are spinning your wheels. Stop. You do have a QUALIFYING PRODUCT that will open RAW files - Lightroom. Get the Evening book and read the chapters about Lightroom Library module. Lightroom Library module replaces Bridge and does a lot more. You will find the Develop Module does many of the things you use to do in Photoshop.

    We are not going to be able to teach you to use Lightroom in a few posts on It, like Photoshop, is a complex program that can do many things. That is the reason most good books on Lightroom (or Photoshop) are about 600 to 700 pages long. We cannot replicate that knowledge in a few posts -at least I cannot.

    As I see it you have a few choices:

    1) Get a good book on Lightroom and read it - with an opened mind. Really study it. This is NOT light reading. It is not quite as difficult as reading math, physics, or chemistry, but it is not like reading a novel. It took me over a week of reading to get a sense of what Lightroom Library and Develop could do. It took a few months to become comfortable.

    2) You can use DNG converter with your current CS5 system and live with "losing" 5 meg of data. (I doubt you really lost much).

    3) You can shoot JPEGS.

    4) You can use an older camera that CS5 supports.
  17. After some minor keyboard rage..not really...I have done some digging into .DNG files. I felt it right to share some of what I have found in case there are some others who are reading this thread.

    The reason the files are much smaller isn't because data is being stripped in terms of the pixels and information within the pixels. The "RAW" pixel data is not changed in any way but happy to be corrected.

    My understanding is that each company has their own RAW format for the metadata on the images. It is all the same information however the format and order etc is different. Somehow in my case, this account for about 5Mb of data when my RAW images are converted to a .DNG file.

    1. I will get into the book you suggest but being profoundly dyslexic (I can type the english word and apparently well but struggle to read - and very slowly and with difficulty comprehending) it will be a chore similar to pulling teeth. Its mainly through YouTube university that I have been able to deep dive into what .DNG actually is.

    I am still on the hunt though.

    2. This may be an option but a horrible workflow

    3. For the newspapers, jpg is perfect however, for example, I am going to Antarctica again early next year and want every single piece of data I can get through the lens in digital format.

    4. I just spent $15,000 on upgrading to the D5 (and three pro lenses) given the D5s isn't going to happen I had no choice. I still also shoot with a D3s which I love but that is my backup.

    Thanks for all the help here and hope my few words can help someone else.

  18. You can use Lightroom without adding all your images to Lightroom's library. I set Lightroom to generate xmp files, which is what you have with all your images processed with Adobe Camera RAW. You have to import the RAW files into Lightroom in order to process them, but you don't have to keep them there. After you complete adjustment to the images in Lightroom and export the jpg file to the location you want, just remove the images from Lightroom. Since you set Lightroom to generate xmp files, the xmp files will be in the same location as the RAW files - just like you have when processing using Adobe Camera RAW. Lightroom's catalog is now empty, your jpg files are where you exported them and the RAW files now have xmp files. If you need to make additional adjustments in the future, just import them again and they will open with the settings that were saved in the xmp files. You can import any of your images processed with Adobe Camera RAW and they will open with the settings saved in their xmp files. I don't need Lightroom's catalog and have been working this way for several years.
    mike_sea likes this.
  19. If you don't move files with LR once you put the file in LR, LR won;t know where they are. So it that sense, yes, you're stuck with LR. However, if you only want LR to edit once in a while, just select that file in LR just to edit it. Then you can create the final edited version, let's say in tiff or jpeg. Save that new file back in the same file as the original photo. LR will see both photo files in its catalog. LR never changes the original photo file
    mike_sea likes this.

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