My Lightroom Workflow – 2012

This entry is part 10 of 12 in the series Lightroom

Searching through the dogcaught archives I realized it has been a very long time since I last discussed my photo processing work flow.  So much has changed since that last post that there’s no way to reasonably cover all the technology updates I’ve experienced.  Instead I will focus what is going on today.

Software wise I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.0, Adobe Photoshop Elements, and Adobe Photoshop CS6 Beta.  Obviously the CS6 Beta won’t be around forever, but it is nice to play with.  With Adobe’s new subscription model if I do have to have it I can always subscribe for a month with little effort.  Dropbox also plays a key role.

My workflow actually starts before I capture an image.  Before I shoot I turn on GeoTagr for iOS on my phone.  GeoTagr runs while I’m shooting to capture the GPS coordinates of the images I shoot.  When I’m done with the shoot I have GeoTagr dump the track file into Dropbox on the phone so I can effortlessly pick it up on my laptop during image processing.  This is a relatively new part of my workflow but it is quite valuable to me since with a few clicks all of my images magically will appear on a map!

Here’s my 2012 workflow:

At the shoot:

1.  Ensure the camera time matches the GeoTagr time on my phone.
2.  Start GeoTagr tracking.
3.  Shoot photos in RAW.
4.  Stop GeoTagr tracking and send the track file to Dropbox.

Back at my laptop I import:

1.  Pull the CF card out of my camera and insert it into the card reader.
2.  In Lightroom I begin the import process.  I have an import preset which does the following to all of my images as they are imported:
– rename the files to include the date (20120502 for example)
– apply my default metadata (IPTC Copyright and Creator information)
– move the files to my dedicated original image storage hard drive (or my local hard drive when I’m on the road)
– if all the images have things in common I will apply keywords in the import dialog (usually just the event name)
3. Next is the back up process.  I use ChronoSync on my Mac (I’ve used SyncBack on PC for the same chore) to send the imported image files to a second drive on my home network.  This normally runs at 6pm daily or I may manually force a backup.  Once on the second drive the images are backed up to my offsite storage using Backblaze.
4. The full CF card goes into my bag for use in the future.  I pull out the next card in order, insert it into the camera and format it.  The camera is now ready for the next shoot.

Next is the mapping and keyword process:

1.  Each image is assigned an event which describes the reason I’m taking the photos.
2.  Each image is assigned additional keywords which describe the content of the image.  For my railroad images I do keyword the engine numbers and other equipment numbers for future reference.  As an example one of the images from my recent trip to the Gorge has the following keywords:  2012 04/14 Gorge, BNSF 7244, Mountain, Mt. Hood.  The photo above has these:  2012 04/29 G+ Photowalk, Switch, Track
3.  Each image is placed on the map in the Lightroom map module using the following process:
–  import the track file from the shoot from Dropbox.
–  select the images to apply GPS coordinates to and choose apply.
–  if the images don’t have GPS coordinates available I will drag the images onto the map manually.
4.  The last part of the keyword process is to check my smart collections which identify photos without keyword and map information.  If those collections are empty I’ve been successful in key-wording and mapping all the images from the shoot.


This is complicated enough it would likely warrant a post of its own.  Each image is different so giving you my exact formula for an image is really only good for that image.  The stylization of each image is obviously quite subjective and what I would do is way different than what you would do.   I will say that these general steps are involved:

1.  For panoramas or HDR export the images to Photoshop for pano or HDR file creation and return them to Lightroom
2.  Apply Global Reset preset (see Michael Frye for more information on the Lighroom 4 reset I use)
3.  Apply Lens Corrections preset.
4.  Apply Basic panel adjustments.
5.  Crop if necessary (sooner or later depending on the image).
6.  Stylization to taste.
7.  Sharpening to taste.


I make extensive use of Lightroom’s Publish Services.  I have numerous services set up for hard drive, 500px, Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa (Google +) sharing.  When I’m ready to share an image I drag it over to one of of the Publish Services and simply click the publish button. For images I export to my hard drive (generally these are for my website, computer wallpaper, printing to certain print services) I have set up publish services so that I have somewhat of an accounting of what I’ve output.  All of my exports go to a specific Exports folder completely separate from the original files.  If I need to reference a file I’ve exported I can find it somewhere in my Publish Services.

Final Thoughts

As you can imagine this process is always evolving.  Just compare the 2007 version to today! Software updates and improvement happen pretty regularly so I try to stay in sync with those.  I’m always looking for ways to streamline my process and reduce the amount of time I spend cataloging and editing images. I’d rather be out shooting than at home in front of the computer!

Organizer to Lightroom…almost

This entry is part 5 of 12 in the series Lightroom

Over the holidays I considered converting my photo catalog from Photoshop Elements Organizer to Photoshop Lightroom’s Library.   There are lots of reasons to convert but the overriding item for me is how the Library and Develop pieces are more integrated than in my current work flow.   On top of that Lightroom allows me more access to meta data which as time goes on will be more and more important.   After I set up a test catalog in Lightroom to see how things would look I found the steps I used to catalog images in Organizer would be about the same in Lightroom.  At that point the decision was made.

Now to convert.  I thought it couldn’t be all that hard to convert because Lightroom has an “Import from Elements” option built right in.  Software developers you can stop reading here, you know what happens next…

As with any conversion there are some things which must be done to the ‘source’ data to make it more usable in the ‘target’ system.  I carefully read several posts on the preparation needed and once done I fired it off.  Happily I could sit and watch as Lightroom imported my photos and tags and went about the process of organizing every thing in the Library.  In a geeky way it was fun!

When the conversion finished the first thing I noticed is that some of my Organizer Tags did not land in the Lightroom keywords in the same hierarchy.  As I snooped around some and I found the keywords outside the hierarchy were simply duplicated so deleting them would solve that issue.  Various discussions around the Adobe Lightroom forum confirmed my conclusion.  At that point I estimated 30 minutes or less to correct.  So far so good.

The next thing I noticed was the captions were missing.  Oh oh, that’s not good, that’s my record of train symbols and other miscellaneous facts at the time the photo was captured.  Back to the forums I went looking for how to convert the captions.  After hours of digging it became apparent the captions on RAW files just weren’t converting from the Organizer database to Lightroom.  Lightroom’s conversion was always taking the caption from the image meta data instead of pulling it out of Organizer’s database.   Some quick math told me I had just over 5,000 images with captions.  To quote Aaron “That’s a lot of copy and paste”.

Lightroom is a fabulous product and it is where I want my catalog to end up.  With each version it becomes more and more bug free so my hope is in one of the upcoming releases this conversion item is addressed.  If its not, I will likely make the decision to convert anyway and do the copy and paste.   Hey, my daughter is always wanting to earn money maybe she’d do it?

For now I’m back to Organizer.

Sigh, No Captions

Where’s my caption?

[tags] adobe, convert, elements, lightroom, organzier, photos, photoshop, railroad, trains [/tags]