lightroom 101

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by d_ponce, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. As a longtime user of Photoshop software, when the latest upgrade to CS6 came with a nice discount on Lightroom 4, I decided to 'get on the bandwagon' that so many other photographers have been 'crowing' about for years.
    After watching a few 'getting started' videos on LR, I gave it a try. I had thought this program was supposed to be easier than PS, but I actually found it quite confusing compared to PS/BR. I purchased it primarily because of the supposedly superior selection process tools, but later found out that everything has to be 'imported' instead of the easy 'browse' tools that are in Bridge.
    Since I save all of my original files on external drives, I figured I would have to import a group of images in order to use LR as intended (this, from the start, seemed quite a waste of time and hard-drive space, but I did 'as I was told'). Because I was not sure what LR intended to do and was concerned it may try to 'edit' my originals on my external drive, after importing I disconnected my external drive. I noticed that when viewing the images, there was a notation that the 'original image was offline or missing'. If I had made any modifications to the images, was this software going to edit my originals if I had kept the external drive connected?? Is LR making a copy of the file?
    Second, I shoot in RAW (NEF) and what I saw on the monitor in LR was horrible. I did some research and it appears I have to set up some profiles or make some setting changes in order to view these files as I can easily do without modification in PS/BR (or ViewNX). I could be wrong on this, but it also seemed like the profile would change the original file in order to speak to LR (and some say if you adjust one thing correctly, it ruins something else). Is this just another program that is trying to be 'in charge' or am I just showing my 'LR Newbie' stripes? thx for all of your comments!
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    it may try to 'edit' my originals on my external drive, after importing I disconnected my external drive.​

    It's on every basic tutorial and plenty of other places - Lightroom editing is non-destructive. It leaves your original alone, completely.
    I noticed that when viewing the images, there was a notation that the 'original image was offline or missing'.​

    That's because you took your disk offline. Did you expect that Lightroom could find images from a disk that isn't there?
    Second, I shoot in RAW (NEF) and what I saw on the monitor in LR was horrible.​

    What you see is an Adobe default. I've never heard the term "horrible" about the Adobe default, I don't find it too bad, but it is very easy to set up a profile.

    the profile would change the original file​

    Let's try this again. Lightroom editing is non-destructive. I have no idea what "getting started" videos you viewed, but you seem to be missing the most basic understanding of Lightroom. There are some good videos on the Adobe site, you have to pay attention, but I would highly recommend Victoria Bampton (The Lightroom Queen) and her book, The Missing Lightroom FAQ.
    Is this just another program that is trying to be 'in charge' or am I just showing my 'LR Newbie' stripes?​

    The latter.
  3. Well, I'm not exactly a Lightroom expert, and I'm sure others will chime in...but it sounds to me as though you are experiencing the "shock" of a completely new way of post processing digital files.
    First of all, Lightroom does not edit photos never touches the originals. It only keeps a database of where your actual files are, and of the edits you have applied after importing them. Also, I assume you know that when you import, you don't need to copy or move the files....just leave them where they are, and simply add them to LR's catalogue. Easy peasy...
    I could answer most of your questions, but I suggest you try to learn more about the program on your own. There are many good online sources, including Adobe's own site, and I often consult
    I think you will be pleasantly surprised if you give it half a chance. I also have used Photoshop for years, currently using CS4, but since I invested in Lightroom about three years ago, I haven't looked back.
    Best regards,

  4. One other thing...what you saw on your monitor as "horrible" was most likely due to the fact that you imported the photos with the minimal preview. Suggest you render them with standard previews. They will display more quickly without having to load the full file.
    Jeff's recommendation of the Lightroom 4 FAQs couldn't be more on the mark. I use it extensively. Best book out there if you just have questions about specific topics, and don't want to read a book from front to back to learn what you want to know.
    Best regards,
  5. I have the Bampton book. It is an amazingly clear set of answers to questions about all LR functions. It will take you through the basics to start and contains about 700 pages of questions and answers about LR in large, readable print and in very logical sequence. It is very effectively indexed so you can find things fairly easily. LR takes some attention and learning. I just put together a book of pictures and sent it from LR directly to Blurb for hardcover publication. LR 4.2 makes it very easy to do this by setting up an intitial collection. LR is a data base management system that allows you to collect picture files from several different sources into a collection and then export that collection off-line to blurb, facebook and others, to a hard disk file on your computer or an external hard drive. It is a very powerful tool with a variety of functions. I sometimes do two or three hundred sports pictures at a time and can process them very quickly for web posting directly from LR. You can do global edits like fixing white balance on all 200 at once. Ninety five per cent of my pictures never see CS6 or DPP. The processing is done completely in LR. I am still learning after having and using it for well over three years. I use CS6 when I print large, need layers or transformations. LR will keep track of pictures on the two hard drives I have and on the c drive in my computer so it also has the capability of unifying in one collection pictures from different sources as it keeps track of where the original files reside. Picture quality in prints from LR and CS6 seem identical to me.
  6. Don't give up. Lightroom is pretty amazing once you figure it out.
  7. "After watching a few 'getting started' videos on LR, I gave it a try."

    Watching isn't enough. Understanding is what you need to do. As has been pointed out and also alluded to by yourself (am I just showing my 'LR Newbie' stripes) you haven't as yet understood the program sufficiently.

    Your realisation that this is so has led you here to ask a question but that is a fundamentally flawed approach, at best you'll get maybe 15 lines of comment from well intentioned people who may or may not be giving good advice. You won't know the difference. No-one can give you an understanding of Lightroom in a forum reply. They can point you in the right directions but you can also do that for yourself. You found the tutorials you can also find answers to the bits you don't yet understand.

    For the moment you can take away from this thread the comforting answer that it's not possible to alter your original files by using Lightroom, they stay intact. That alone gives you the freedom to experiment with the program, you may get a proliferation of virtual copies or edits as a result and your drive may appear cluttered with these but you can delete all or any with impunity if they're part of your learning exercises. Of course it would be possible to delete original files while using Lightroom and blame that on Lightroom itself but you'd have to be making a determined and misguided effort to do so. If you use Lightroom the way the tutorials will tell you then your originals are safe.

    "If I had made any modifications to the images, was this software going to edit my originals if I had kept the external drive connected?? Is LR making a copy of the file?"

    You can ask LR to make copies when importing but you probably don't need/want to. LR imports your images to its database, now that "import" word may be misleading. All LR does is reference your original file (so it looks at your hard drive and sees the files in place there and makes a small mental image for itself which is the thumbnail you'll see in LR and then just merely remembers the positions of the files. It doesn't move or change anything).

    When you work on a file in the develop module you initially see exactly what you original file was like and then you make editing changes to it, which alter it's visual appearance on your monitor. Lightroom again "remembers" how this visual appearance change on your monitor looks and without doing anything at all to your original file it makes notes to itself that tell it how to make your original file look exacty that way the next time you open it. It saves those notes in its own catalog files, NOT with the original files. Nothing to worry about with regard to your originals.

    Now, something to do. Read all the answers so far again and again until you understand what is being said. Go back to the tutorials and watch/read them again and again until you understand what is being said. Soon you'll understand what is being said and Lightroom will, as Dave Collet said, become pretty amazing. But you will actually get more from other resources than from here to help you on that way. Here's another ..........

    If you choose to accept this assignment you have 7 days until ..... oh, sorry this is Lightroom - it's not Mission Impossible.
  8. The thing about LR is you have to use it every day otherwise you are right back to square one.
  9. I'm a Photoshop user who made the switch to Lightroom awhile ago. Yes, it can be confusing at first, since it edits in a much different way than PS. But don't give up, as it is a very good editing program, as well as an excellent image organizer. I'm glad I stuck with it, as it is now my primary editor.
  10. Thanks guys -- definitely "newbie stripes" showing. The concept, even with many of your very good explanations, is very foreign to me -- I have been doing it the PS way for so long, my mindset can not quite grasp the concept of a database editing an image and then not saving (altering) the original image!
    The terms are also confusing -- as Mac eluded to. Import in my mind conjures up the movement of something from one place to another -- which it clearly does not do.
    I guess rather than just watching tutorials on how to do it (I enjoy the ones from Adobe), instead what it appears that I should do -- based on many of your comments -- is to find a resource that will teach me 'what it is doing' -- not 'what I should do' first. Thanks for your support and encouragement to stick with it!
  11. To say that Lightroom is non-destructive is basically true, but not always. When Lightroom renames a file, it renames a file. I've lost a few images during renaming and transferring from one hard drive to another. Long story and my fault, but be careful. It bit me rather unexpectedly.
  12. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    When Lightroom renames a file, it renames a file.​

    Renaming a file is not editing. It has been clear from the start of the discussion here that we are talking about non-destructive editing.
  13. Just a word of caution to those wise enough to listen.
  14. "When Lightroom renames a file, it renames a file."

    In fairness if you rename a file in Photoshop and then go to your list of recently opened files and try to open the originally named file it won't recognise it either. But renaming a file doesn't lose it or alter it other than by name.
    If you show LR a file named "Alien abducting me at gunpoint" and then rename it in the light of day to "Neighbour complaining about my drunken behaviour" then it's not going to find the file it still thinks is the alien one. No sinister Lightroom behaviour here.
    Beam me up Scott Kelby
  15. confuse with a new software? go to and get yourself a 25$/month workshop.. in less than 12hre you will be up and running. Reading is not enough.. you need to practice, but to practice, you need to understand.
    You can try to make it append alone.. and be frustrated, or get this workshop ... yeah i know, theres a bunch of free lessons out there.. but see what append to you with those free lessons ; )
  16. LR does not lose the file if you rename it in LR, only if you rename it outside LR, such as in Explorer. If you go to the filename box in the metadata section (in the Library module) and click on it, just type or edit the filename. No problem. This is all explained in multitudinous places. The only complaint I have is that it automatically highlights the entire filename; and it SHOULD highlight the whole filename up to but not including, the extension. Normally, you don't want to edit the extension (a bad idea).
    Best regards,
  17. I ran into Lightroom renaming problems when I renamed some images and then copied the images and the catalog to another computer, did some work, and then copied both back to the original computer. The software I used for copying got confused about time/date stamps so that some image files were overwritten and lost, and some image files didn't correspond to the edits stored in the Lr catalog. A big mess for a few images, but fortunately not too many were affected. (I probably only lost two Pulitzers and a National Geographic cover....) It's fixed now and everything works fine.
    Obviously, the problem wasn't Lightroom, but be aware that Lightroom can change your original files by renaming them. All this talk about Lightroom not changing your originals is only true up to a point.

Share This Page