There has been some confusion about Smart Previews in Lightroom. This feature was added in Lightroom 5 and is not the most straight forward concept to understand. Let’s do a quick overview of the feature and then talk about the right times to use them.
Lightroom is a catalog based photo management system. The catalog is where Lightroom keeps track of all of your edits, metadata, and settings. So this is a very important file!
You can store your Lightroom images “offline” on an external hard drive. If you ever wondered how Lightroom could still know what your photos look like when they are not plugged in, the answer is the Lightroom previews.
Lightroom creates these preview files for each of the images you import. These preview images are what you are actually viewing on your screen in Lightroom (and these are what you see when the images are not present – “offline”.)
With the introduction of Lightroom 5, Adobe added Smart Previews. They didn’t replace the regular previews. These regular previews are still there. The Smart Previews are larger lossy DNG formated images. They are 2048 pixels wide (or basically big enough for an iPad screen.)
So in addition to being bigger previews, Lightroom add two major things you could not do before to regular previews. First, you can export Smart Previews. These are not huge files so using Smart Previews is not recommended for high quality print jobs. But if you want to send a proof to a client or post an image to Facebook, the smart previews are perfect.
Second you can edit the Smart Previews. Instead of editing the full image, you are editing a smaller but big enough version of the photo. If you making small tweaks to white balance or contrast, you won’t notice a change. If you are doing more expansive edits, the limits of not having the full photo present will be seen. This allows you to work on your offline images.
This depends on 3 things: Where is your Lightroom catalog, where are you images and how good are you with metadata.(more…)
Because Alan is a good friend, I volunteered to point him in the right direction. He agreed to record the conversation in hopes that it would help others get started with Lightroom.
The result is a more conversational approach to demonstrating Lightroom than other tutorials I have seen. Hopefully it will help folks learn Lightroom to better manage their photos and to use the editing magic to make their photos pop.
This was recorded using Google Plus. Feel free to add me to your G+ circles.
Here was the basic overview of what topics where covered: (more…)
There are moments that are captured in photographs which can never be repeated again; sometimes a photo is all we have left of a loved one who has passed – some pictures tell a story in their composition and bring back memories years after they occur.
For that reason, people have done everything they can to preserve photos, with some ideas and methods being far superior to others. Storage of photographs has come a long way since the early days of the mid-nineteenth century, when photography first began to gain popularity.
Around the time of the Civil War, the first photo albums began to make their appearance. They were largely well-constructed tombs or leather and cloth, often ornately decorated with gold and porcelain latches and knobs. The pages of these albums was constructed of card stock, on top of which was glued a piece of paper with a center window cut out of it. When a photograph was slipped between the two, the image showed through the window in the paper.
As the Twentieth Century dawned, the paper on which photographs were printed became heavier and sturdier. This increased the popularity of photo albums, and more people began to store their photographs. However, the albums at this time used card stock, paper and ink which were destructive to the photos they held, and they began to fall out of favor among serious collectors and photography aficionados.
There are so called “magnetic” photo albums which are quite common today and they should be avoided at any cost, as they will damage photos quickly.(more…)
This is all about workflow; you know… how you get your photos from your camera to that beautiful, amazing killer 30×40 framed jaw-dropping masterpiece hanging over your living room sofa. I know you want to, don’t deny it. So lets see what it takes and in the process I’ll share with you some of my secrets for making it pretty darn easy.
But first… we have to get serious and think about organization even before we start. Bummer. I know. But lets get it out of the way so we can move on to the creative stuff we all love to do.
Lightroom is both a file management system and a photo editor. The only problem is that you can’t really use it as an editor until you understand how it manages files. If you are like me, you probably loaded Lightroom on your computer and started playing around. How’d that work for you? Not so good, right?
Best we take a moment and think a little about making sure that whatever system we set up can last us into the next decade. So lets start with file management.
Basic photo organizing for most people means storing photos by date. An alternative is to store photos by “place” or “event.” Either one is fine. If you’ve been consistent, you have a great place to start. Even if you haven’t there’s still hope for you too.
Recently I worked with a professional portrait photographer who organized by client name. That works fine so let’s start with your hard drive and group images together by any means you want but you will need this as a start. Go ahead and do that before you go any further since it may be the most important part of getting Lightroom to work for you. Back so quick? Good. Lets launch Lightroom and start setting it up before we go any further.(more…)
Is there a question mark in your Lightroom catalog with a big warning saying, “The file named “X” is offline or missing.”? Don’t panic. Most of the time this is easy to fix.
A couple things could be going on.
Let’s start with the easy one. If you keep your images on an external drive and you unplug the drive, basically Lightroom is telling you that they can’t find the images… at the moment… If you plug in the drive, the question mark will magically go away. While the file is offline, you can still make catalog types of changes like keywords, stars, colors and flags. If you go to the Develop module, the controls will be grayed out.(more…)
We received a whole box full of brand new external drives today. When we send you an external drive for you to backup your files, you receive one of these beautiful new drives.
We also got a new printer and boxes which makes the guys handling our shipping very happy! Packing boxes is not one of the glamorous parts of our job, but customers do like getting their data to us quickly.
One of the most common questions we get from photographers is “how do I move my files from my laptop to an external hard drive in Aperture.”
Most serious photographers will run out of disk space and will want to move some of their images to an external hard drive. This will free up space on their local hard drives.
Aperture is a catalog based software meaning that it keeps track of your images location on the hard drive. By default Aperture places your images within the Aperture library file. The Mac OS hides these files from the user. This is a source of confusion among many Mac users. Because they can’t see their files, they assume that moving the whole library files is an all or nothing endeavor. It is not.
You can view the individual images within your Aperture library. Find your Aperture Library file (usually located in your Pictures folder), right click and select “Show Package Contents”, then select the “Masters” folder. All of your individual files will be there.
Do not move the files directly from Finder onto your external hard drive. This will confuse your Aperture library.(more…)
At some point most serious photographers make so many pictures that they will run out of space on their local hard drive. They will then want to put their images on an external hard drive. One of the most common questions we get from photographers is “how do I move my images to an external hard drive within Lightroom?”
This process is actually pretty straight forward in Lightroom but not terribly intuitive.
For many Lightroom users, they know better than to just move their images to their external hard drive. Lightroom is a catalog software. Basically this means that Lightroom references the file location. If you move that file behind without Lightroom knowing, Lightroom will have no idea where the image is. The image will then appear “offline or missing.” (more…)
What is exactly is “Cloud Storage” and what does it mean for me as a serious or professional photographer? This is a perfectly legit question. The “cloud” seems to be everywhere. Let’s go over what it is and how it could help your photography business.
Saving photos to the “Cloud” really refers to saving photos to an off-site storage system and accessing those photos over the Internet. Substitute your local hard drive for an Internet accessible remote hard drive and you have the basics of cloud storage.
Just as we get our electricity and water from remote sources and pipe them into our homes, the cloud pipes computing power into our homes via the Internet.
Typically a cloud storage company wouldn’t just store data on one drive. They would store the data on multiple drives. This way if one drive dies, the files are still safe.
Also, usually cloud storage companies store multiple versions of the files in multiple locations. This is another layer of protection. This is offsite protection for your offsite protection. (more…)
If your images are only saved in one location, they are vulnerable. Fires, floods, and other natural disasters happen more often than anyone would like to imagine. Keep your images on a spare drive at a friend’s house, rent a safe deposit box, or use an offsite cloud storage vendor for professional photographers.
If you backed up your first digital images on a CD, it is time to move them to DVDs or better yet, a second hard drive. Optical media has a shelf life. Early production CDs and DVDs should be checked at least every 5 years and migrated to new media. (Blog post on why photographers should move away from DVDs)
Your catalog in Lightroom holds loads of information about your image library. Lightroom allows you to schedule catalog backups automatically. Set this up now! (Remember backing up the catalog is not the same as backing up your actual photos, or previews, sidecar files, and slide shows.) The more frequently you backup your catalog, the less information you can potentially lose when your computer makes like Queen and Bites The Dust.
All hard drives crash. It is is just a matter of time. While you cannot prevent your hard drive from eventually becoming an expensive paper weight, there are some tools that will help you predict when this inevitable event will occur. The Self Monitoring Analysis Reporting Technology (SMART) keeps an eye on your drives and notifies you when things start to go wrong. While this technology is not perfect, it can be helpful. However, it cannot yet predict when you will accidentally spill coffee on your external hard drive….
Most professional photographers deploy the look-see method of data validation. (As in “look, see the files are the same.”) Just because the files/folder on your backup appear the same in two different locations, it doesn’t mean that they are. With data validation you protect yourself against data corruption.
This should be #1, because if you read and follow author Peter Krogh’s detailed instructions, your images will be forever safe. Like my mother used to say to me when I complained about my homework, just read The DAM Book.
Working files are images that you are still actively modifying, tweaking, adjusting, or completing. Because you are working on these files, they need to be live, local, and accessible. The archive is permanent. These files are not going to be accessed regularly. But when you want to access a file, you should be able to find, edit, and push changes back to your archive quickly.
(I wrote a blog post is devoted to this.) Treating working files differently from archived photos will help simplify and expedite your DAM process.
One of the major goals of proper digital asset management is to make sure your images are not only secure today, but accessible in the future. At the moment, saving the files as a DNG is the best way to ensure forward compatibility.
The RAW files coming off your camera are in a proprietary format unique to that camera. This means that a RAW processor needs to support your unique camera’s RAW format in order to read the image properly (Canon typically used the CRW or CR2 format. Nikon typically uses the NEF format). 20 years from now, your unique camera format might not be supported. DNG is an openly documented standard that will be supported.
Equally as important, when you make changes to a RAW file in a non destructive editing software (like Lightroom or Aperture), the changes get saved to a side car XML file that is linked to the RAW file. The link between these files can get broken. DNG wraps the RAW and sidecar files together to ensure that all edits to the images will be saved. DNGs also deploy a lossless compression, meaning the file sizes can actually be smaller than native RAW files. This saves you hard drive space.
Digital asset management is not easy. But as a professional photographer your livelihood is stored on your hard drives. Following these simple rules will help ensure that both your business and your photographic legacy are protected.