Lightroom workflow tip

As a new Lightroom user (well this is actually not true, I’ve been using a lot in the early stages when I was still half on PC and half on Mac) it could be fun for you (the readers) to see some of the things I discover a long the way and share them as tips. Some tips might be already known, some might help you a bit with speeding up your workflow.

I will start with describing my old workflow for Aperture and then move into the workflow I found out for Lightroom4, along the way there might be some things you already knew, but also (hopefully) some things that make you go “ah, that’s cool”.


Because I hate it when a program uses a database to store images instead of folders I can see I always had a bit of a weird approach to Aperture importing. After the shoot I would create a folder on the storage drives, for example : Studio/Carmen/12 June 2012 where I would put all the files into. In Aperture I would create the same folder in the database and import the files as “keep in current location”.
This was everything worked flawless for me, but it was a bit of a hassle.
The reason I don’t shoot straight into the folder is that I capture to a fast Raid0 drive (now replaced by a SSD drive) to get the most speed.


After this I would mark my images, export them (including the color checkers) into a folder called : to retouch on a raid0 volume (speed). Now I would convert the color checker files into DNGs, import them into the software for the color checker passport (or spydercheckr), store the profiles. After this I would open Photoshop, open up the color checker file, connect the right profile, do the whitebalance, save as new camera raw defaults and open up the file to retouch. Images from the same series could be just opened, but when a new series started I would again pick the color checker, connect the right profile, do whitebalance and store as new camera raw default.


When the retouching is done I would copy them to the folder on my storage drive where the retouched files live and import that the same way as described above into Aperture.


Although it sounds incredibly complicated in reality it was not the case.
It all worked rather painless and quick, until I started using lightroom…… that is.


Alternative workflow Lightroom4
Now the fun starts for me.
I will capture on a fast drive as before (was a Raid0 but is now replaced by a SSD), after the shoot I will now open up Lightroom4 and create a new folder in my catalogue, import the files into that folder and my import is done. You can of course also create the folder on the drive yourself, copy the files yourself and than import into lightroom4 as ADD to catalogue, but I think option 1 is quicker.


Now I will sort my files on capture time.
Select the color checker passport (or spydercheckr) files and export those to the plugin for lightroom (one click).
When this is done I will select all the files that were shot with that setup and I will sync the files, because only the profile is changed this is an easy and very quick process. Now all the files are there with the correct color temp and profile, now that’s a lot quicker than my previous workflow, but it get’s better.


Now I will start “starring” my images, 5 means that I will do retouching on them, 1 means delete.
After this I make a quick selection based on rating, delete the 1’s and the 5’s are left in the browser.


Now you can start the quick retouch in Lightroom (what I normally did in Photoshop), if for whatever reason a whole series is a bit too dark you can lighten them up all at once instead of doing it one by one in Photoshop (or use the sync in Photoshop), now use “command E” to open up the files in Photoshop and do the retouch. The fun thing is that if you’re done with the retouch you just close the file and Photoshop stores (and imports) the file back into lightroom, meaning you will see it in lightroom next to the original. Do this for all the files and close Photoshop.


Because I don’t want the retouched and raw files in one place (I use a separated retouched images drives) I now simply select the retouched images and drag and drop them to the drive with the retouched images. Lightroom moves the images and I’m done…..


Extra speed
Because I use rather large files I love to work from a more speedy drive (like a Raid0 or SSD).
I was thinking about a solution to keep everything in Lightroom without ever leaving Lightroom, but still have my separate “to retouch” folder. And suddenly I found out this solution (and I hope you can benefit from this).


When I’m done with the selection and am left with my 5 stars, instead of opening them in Photoshop with “command E” I will export them to the SSD drive in the folder “to retouch”, this is an export I stored as custom so it’s a one click action. This folder is a folder that exists in Lightroom, however the files won’t show up (you need to import), so what I did is I enabled the “auto import” option and this option imports the files into a subfolder of the “to retouch” folder, in fact I don’t care about this folder because I don’t see it and in the end I delete these images (it’s a temp folder). Now I can start my retouching from that location and have the benefit of the fast drive. When I’m done the solution is the same as before, just drag the retouched files to the drive with the retouched images and delete the original RAWs (remember they were just a temp storage).


Now when I write this all down I realize it does sound long…. however in real live this is without a doubt a very very fast and secure workflow. And compared to what I did before in Aperture this is again shaving off several minutes per session in time, and every minute counts of course.



I hope I told some of you something new.
And I find out something else I think is worth sharing I will dedicate another blog post to it.