Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Importing with Lightroom

Last week we discussed some of the challenges we face "After the Shot". How do we manage the thousands of images that we store on our computers so there's some hope of locating the ones we want years down the road? How do we make small corrections in images to help them be all they can be? In the coming weeks I'm going to share my "After the Shot" workflow process with you which leverages Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom 3.  Along the way, I will also share links to some valuable resources to help you get the most from this incredible application.  This week we'll look at the Import Module.

Insert Card Please
When you first insert your memory card, Lightroom will launch into the Import Module.  It will automatically generate a series of thumbnails of the images on the card and allow you to "check" or "uncheck" the image to specify if you even want to bother importing the image at all. Very rarely do I ever unselect an image to prevent it from being imported.  I reserve judgement as to whether or not a photo "makes the cut" using the tools in the Library Module which we'll begin to discuss next week. You can also specify other import locations to bring images already on your hard drive into the Lightroom catalog.

The Import Panel
Once your preview thumbnails have been rendered, you'll want to move over to the import panel as seen in the screen capture to the right. Remember, this is describing MY workflow and there are undoubtedly many alternative ways of doing things. The following are the items I use in my import process:
  • Render Previews - This really relates to how you view your images AFTER they're imported. You can use the "Render Previews" option to determine if LR renders larger image previews on demand or in advance (pay now or pay later in other words).  In my setup, I use the default "Minimal" setting to keep the import process fast.
  • Don't Import Suspected Duplicates - Does exactly what it says.  If any of the images you're attempting to import are already inside your LR catalog, they are unselected automatically.
  • Make a Second Copy To: - This is helpful to make an immediate backup copy of your image.  I don't use this method to backup primarily because I want to keep my imports fast (SHOW ME THE PICTURES! :-).  Instead, I use a utility from Microsoft called SyncToy to replicate my "My Pictures" folder to either a portable USB drive when I'm away from home or network storage when I'm in the office.
  • Rename Files - Collections and Keywords make having elaborate file names unnecessary.  I do use this option to ensure my file names are unique, however.  You can build a custom naming template and set it as the default to keep your naming consistent.  Mine looks like this: KS_CustomText-0123.nef - where "KS" are my initials, CustomText is the value I provide on import, and 0123 is actually the sequence number assigned by the camera when the image was captured.  The Custom Text is usually the ONLY thing I provide during an import process anymore. Everything else is automatic.
  • Develop Settings - LR leverages the concept of "presets".  Say for example you like to always increase the "Vibrance" setting to +20.  You can save that change as a preset which then you can automatically apply during import using this setting.  I like to adjust every image separately so I don't use it.  I do, however, use the "Camera Profile" option within LR to interpret all of my images as "Camera Vivid".  See Episode 48 of D-TownTv for more info (starts around the 4 minute mark).
  • Metadata - You can create a template to automatically apply things like copyright information, your name and contact information, etc.  This data is stored in the images EXIF information and stays with the image.  This I do use and it's applied to every image as it's imported.  Again, set it and forget it.
  • Keywords - If every image I'm importing has something in common, like they were all shot at the family reunion, then I will use this option to apply keyword(s) that apply to every image.  Generally this isn't the case for me so I rarely use this option either.
  • Destination - Again, once you begin using collections and keywords to organize your photos, the physical storage location is less important.  LR provides you a lot of flexibility none-the-less to help you stay organized at the file system level.  I've configured my setup to automatically create a sub folder within \My Pictures\2010\ directory so all of my images from a given day go into a folder specifying the year, month and day in a YYYYMMDD format.  Again, once I've set this up it's automatic and requires no input from me the next time I import.
That's all for this week.  Stop by next week when I share how I use the Library Module to determine which images stay and which images go.
Until next time, keep click'n.


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