Folder Confusion


Today’s Question: I accidentally renamed a top folder in Windows Explorer that contained some subfolders holding photographs. Those photographs were imported into Lightroom Classic previously. The images show up on the LR Library screen, but in the Develop module Lightroom cannot find the files. I experimented with correcting this by deleted the images in one subfolder but did not delete them from the hard drive. I then imported the deleted photos into Lightroom and that was successful. Is there a better way to address this problem?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This issue could have been resolved more easily, and without the risk of losing any information about your photos, by either renaming the parent folder to its original name through your operating system or by reconnecting that folder within Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: First and foremost, this issue could have been solved very easily by either not renaming the folder outside of Lightroom Classic, or by renaming the folder back to its original name as soon as the error was realized.

In this particular case I suspect part of the confusion was caused by the parent folder not actually containing any photos. In other words, Lightroom Classic would be showing you the subfolders that contain photos but would not show the parent folder that contains those subfolders. As a result, it would not be obvious that you could reconnect the full set of subfolders in one operation. Even if you had not realized this, the individual folders could have been reconnected, ensuring that no information about your photos may have been lost.

To reveal the empty parent folder, you can right-click on one of the subfolders and choose “Show Parent Folder” from the popup menu. That will reveal the parent folder, which in this case will also appear as missing. You can then right-click on the parent folder and choose “Find Missing Folder” from the popup menu. Then navigate to the location where the original parent folder (which had been renamed) is stored. Select that folder and click the Choose button. In this case Lightroom Classic will generally reconnect not only the parent folder you right-clicked on, but any subfolders as well. If any of those subfolders don’t get reconnected, you can right-click on each as needed to use the “Find Missing Folder” command for each of those folders.

The reason it is important to reconnect missing folders or photos rather than re-importing them is that using the import approach may cause you to lose information about the photos. If you had not enabled the option to automatically save metadata, you would have lost updates made in Lightroom Classic such as assigning star ratings, adding keywords, and applying adjustments.

Even with the option enabled to automatically write metadata to the photos, certain Lightroom-specific features would still be lost, such as membership in collections, virtual copies, history, and pick and reject flags.

And again, the key lesson is that when you are using Lightroom Classic to manage your photos, all tasks related to your photos should be initiated from within Lightroom Classic, not through the operating system or other software.

You can learn more about cleaning up organizational problems in Lightroom Classic with my “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom Classic” course here:

Hard Drive Access in Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: You said it was possible to drag a folder of photos in Lightroom Classic from an internal hard drive to an external hard drive. However, in my experience it is not possible to drag a folder to a hard drive. Lightroom Classic only allows you to drag a folder or photos to a folder, not a hard drive. Is there a workaround?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can drag a folder to the top (root) level of a hard drive in Lightroom Classic by first exposing the hard drive as a folder using the “Show Parent Folder” command.

More Detail: At first glance it appears as though Lightroom Classic doesn’t enable you to move photos or folders to the top level (root) of a hard drive. You can see a heading representing the hard drive, and the folders that contain photos on that drive. If you attempt to drag-and-drop to the heading representing the hard drive, you won’t actually be able to move the files or folders you were dragging.

However, you can reveal the hard drive as a folder within the folder structure shown on the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module. Simply right-click on one of the top-level folders on the hard drive, and choose “Show Parent Folder” from the popup menu that appears. This command will reveal the folder that contains the folder you selected, which in the case of a top-level folder means the hard drive itself will be revealed.

When you use the “Show Parent Folder” command in this way, the hard drive will be represented as a folder above all of the other folders on the hard drive. You can then drag-and-drop folders (or photos) directly to that folder representing the hard drive.

Let’s assume, for example, you have a hard drive called “Photos”. On that hard drive you have a folder called “Italy” and within the “Italy” folder you have a folder called “Capri”. But you’ve decided you want the Capri folder to be a top-level folder, rather than a sub-folder under the Italy folder. By revealing the Photos drive as a folder using the “Show Parent Folder” command, you can then drag the Capri folder to the Photos folder (which represents the hard drive) and that Capri folder will then be a top-level folder on the hard drive.

When you’re finished making use of the hard drive as a parent folder, you can right-click on the folder and choose “Hide This Parent” to streamline the presentation of folders within the Folders list in Lightroom Classic.

Traveling Workflow


Today’s Question: I only use a laptop with my [Lightroom Classic] catalog on the laptop and my photos stored on an external hard drive. When I travel it would seem like I could use the same catalog and store my travel photos on my laptop and then transfer the photos via Lightroom [Classic] to the external hard drive when I return home. Does this make sense?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, if your Lightroom Classic catalog is on the internal hard drive of the laptop you’re traveling with, you can simply import photos captured during your travels into that catalog. You can then move the photos to their permanent storage location once you return home.

More Detail: Quite some time ago I abandoned my desktop computer, opting to use a laptop as my only computer. This was an easy decision to make, since I am typically traveling more than six months out of the year. (This year, of course, has turned into an exception.)

When you have your Lightroom Classic catalog available while traveling, you can of course make full use of that catalog when you are away from home. That enables you to, for example, browse your entire catalog of photos, even if the external hard drive containing your photos has been left back at home.

While traveling with your Lightroom Classic catalog, you can of course import new photos into the catalog. If you don’t have your external hard drive with you, then you can simply copy the photos onto the internal hard drive of your laptop when importing those photos into Lightroom Classic.

When you return home, you can connect the external hard drive to your laptop so you can transfer the photos captured during your travels to their permanent storage location. You could, for example, drag the entire folder containing the photos from your travels to the external hard drive in the Folders section of the left panel in the Library module in Lightroom Classic.

What is a LUT?


Today’s Question: Can you explain, briefly, what LUTs are, a word I’ve been seeing lately. What can they do for still photographers beyond the garden-variety sliders in Photoshop, say, or the use of plug-ins? And do LUTs exist for black-and-white as well as color?

Tim’s Quick Answer: A “LUT” is a Lookup Table, which is used in several contexts to adjust the appearance of a display, or a photo or video. LUTs have become popular for providing what is similar to a preset for altering the appearance of a photo.

More Detail: For photographers, the earliest reference they might have heard to a “LUT” would have been in the context of color management. When calibrating and profiling a computer monitor display, the software will update the LUT on the graphics card, which in turn alters the behavior of the display. In other words, the LUT in this context determines how color and luminance data from the computer actually appears on the monitor display.

More recently, “LUT” has become something of a buzzword in the world of photo optimization. In video production LUTs have long been used as a tool for editing the appearance of video. For example, video is often captured with a very neutral appearance. A LUT can then be applied in post-processing to adjust the overall tonality and color appearance of the video. This is often referred to as “color grading”.

This concept has been adapted by many photographers to alter the appearance of their photos. The use of a LUT in this context is similar in concept to applying a preset to a photo, altering the appearance of photos in a uniform way, to achieve a particular look. This has led to the availability of LUTs to be used for this purpose, including options for both color and black and white interpretations of a photo.

In Photoshop, for example, you can apply a LUT to an image by going to the menu and choosing Image > Adjustments > Color Lookup. In the Color Lookup dialog, you can then select (or load) a LUT you would like to apply to the current image.

Camera Raw versus Lightroom


Today’s Question: On several occasions I’ve seen you refer to Adobe Camera Raw alongside the Develop module in Lightroom Classic, as if the two were related. Aren’t these two completely different tools for editing photos?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Lightroom Classic are indeed separate software tools, but they are related by virtue of sharing the same engine for processing photos.

More Detail: One of the key things to understand about Adobe Camera Raw and the Develop module in Lightroom Classic is that the two provide the same set of adjustment tools for processing photos. In other words, you could achieve the exact same results for a give photo with either of these tools.

However, there is also an important difference between Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom Classic, at least insofar as the workflow involved.

In short, if you are using Lightroom Classic to manage your workflow, you should never use Adobe Camera Raw to process a raw capture. Rather, your raw captures should be processed in the Develop module within Lightroom Classic. If you then want to use the powerful tools within Photoshop to further refine a photo, you should send that photo to Photoshop from within Lightroom Classic.

Of course, once you send a photo to Photoshop from Lightroom Classic, you can still make use of many of the features of Adobe Camera Raw by using the Camera Raw filter in Photoshop, found on the Filter menu.

If you are a Photoshop user who is not using Lightroom Classic to manage your photos, you’ll use Adobe Camera Raw to process your raw captures before opening the resulting image in Photoshop proper. With Camera Raw you are getting all of the editing power of the Develop module in Lightroom Classic. In other words, you aren’t missing out on any photo-optimization features by not using Lightroom Classic. You are, however, missing out on what I consider to be a more powerful workflow for organizing photos in Lightroom Classic, assuming you’re using Adobe Bridge to manage your photos in the context of a workflow that revolves around Photoshop.

Finding the Source for a Virtual Copy


Today’s Question: When I make a virtual copy, there is nothing in the history for the original file to indicate that I did so. Sometimes I would like to know the “source” file for the virtual copy. If I have since made additional edits to the original file, is there any way to go back and figure out the point in time the virtual copy was made?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is relatively easy to track down the source image for a virtual copy in Lightroom Classic using the file name referenced with the virtual copy, or by a trick for navigating to the folder that contains the source image.

More Detail: When you create a virtual copy from a source image in Lightroom Classic, you aren’t actually creating a copy of the source image file. Rather, you’re simply creating a unique version of the source image, which is focused on enabling you to create two interpretations of the same image using the adjustments in the Develop module.

You may find at times you have located a virtual copy, but you don’t know where the source image is. There are several easy ways to track down the source image in this scenario.

Perhaps the simplest approach is to automatically navigate to the folder containing the source image. For example, if you have located a virtual copy contained in a collection, you won’t necessarily know which folder the source image is stored. However, you can right-click on the virtual copy and choose “Go to Folder in Library” from the popup menu.

When Lightroom Classic switches you to the folder containing the source image, the virtual copy will still be selected. You can turn off any filters to make sure you’re seeing all photos, and then set the sort order to either Capture Time or File Name. The source image and virtual copy will then be right next to each other, since they share those two attributes as references to the same source capture.

It is also worth keeping in mind that a virtual copy in Lightroom Classic will still reference the filename of the original source image. While browsing a virtual copy, you can go to the Metadata section of the right panel in the Library module. There you can find the File Name field, where the virtual copy will show the filename for the source photo. Note that the Copy Name field shows the reference to the virtual copy, with a default name such as “Copy 1”. You can change that Copy Name value to something more meaningful if you prefer. But the point is that since you can find the source filename associated with the virtual copy, you could also easily search your library for that filename in order to locate the source image.

Shutter Speed for Video


Today’s Question: I’m starting to try my hand a making videos in addition to still photos. I’ve discovered that the shutter speed can’t be set slower than 1/30th of a second. Why is that? And what shutter speed should I use?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The shutter speed for video is limited based on the frame rate for the video. So, at 30 frames per second, for example, the slowest shutter speed available would be 1/30th of a second. In general I prefer to use a shutter speed at or near this limit to maintain a persistence of motion effect.

More Detail: When recording a video at 30 frames per second (fps), each frame essentially represents 1/30th of a second. Therefore, the slowest shutter speed you could use at 30 fps is 1/30th of a second. For video captured at 60 fps, the slowest shutter speed available would be 1/60th of a second.

In some cases you may want to use a fast shutter speed for video, if it is important to freeze the motion of a moving subject. However, that can lead to a somewhat “stuttering” appearance in the video, which can be distracting to the viewer. Instead, you generally want to maintain a “persistence of motion” effect, where a slight motion blur makes movement in the frame appear more natural.

The general rule in video capture is to use a shutter speed with half the duration based on the frame rate. So, for example, you could use a 1/60th of a second shutter speed for video shot at 30 fps, and a 1/120th of a second shutter speed for video captured at 60 fps.

Personally, I tend to prefer the look with a slightly slower shutter speed for video, so I often shoot with the slowest shutter speed possible for video at normal frame rates. If I want to somewhat freeze the motion, such as when there is a particularly fast-moving subject you’ll be recording, you may want to use a slightly faster shutter speed. But in general, very fast shutter speeds for video at normal frame rates will produce a result that is not as pleasing compared to the use of slower shutter speeds.

Adjustments Reset after Photoshop


Today’s Question: When in Lightroom Classic, I make adjustments to a RAW file, such as Lens Calibration, then send the image with adjustments into Photoshop, apply some adjustments, and return to Lightroom as a TIFF file. When I look at Lens Calibration for the new file, the boxes are unchecked. Does this mean I need to re-check those boxes, or are the adjustments baked into the returning TIFF file?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The adjustments appear to “reset” in this context because those adjustments were applied to the image that was sent to Photoshop. There is no need to re-apply those adjustments after the derivative image is returned from Photoshop.

More Detail: When you send a raw capture from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, that raw capture is processed to create a new TIFF or PSD file (depending on the setting established in Preferences). All adjustments you applied in Lightroom’s Develop module for the raw capture are applied to the new TIFF or PSD file. For this reason, when you go to the Develop module for the TIFF/PSD image, the adjustments will have reset to their default values.

Because the adjustments have been applied to the TIFF/PSD image, there is no need to re-apply any of the adjustments. You can, of course, apply additional adjustments above and beyond what you had already applied in Lightroom before sending the image to Photoshop.

As for the Lens Corrections adjustments specifically, you would generally not want to apply those adjustments a second time to the derivative image. Doing so will apply an additional adjustment, which means the adjustment is going beyond the intended purpose of compensating for the behavior of the lens used to capture the image.

Of course, if you apply the adjustment again and like the result, that’s perfectly fine. But in general I would not apply Lens Corrections adjustments more than once to an image, including for a derivative image that has previously had the adjustments applied to it.

Recovering Color Detail


Today’s Question: Is there a way to use the HSL sliders [Hue, Saturation, and Luminance] in Lightroom Classic to bring back detail on over-saturated portions of an image? For example, a red or yellow flower lacks detail from over-saturation. If not HSL is there another way in Lightroom to correct the image? Reducing total saturation sometimes helps to bring out detail, but then all of the other colors are hurt by it and the red/yellow loses its richness.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Reducing saturation for an individual color can help improve perceived detail in that area of the image, if the colors have been over-saturated. If, however, detail was lost due to an over-exposure, reducing the overall exposure in post-processing may help, but it is also possible that there is not any recoverable detail in those areas if the image was over-exposed too much in the camera.

More Detail: Many photographers are in the habit of checking the histogram on their camera’s LCD display to confirm they have achieved a good exposure. However, it is important to keep in mind that detail can be lost even if only one color channel has lost detail, even if there are no areas of the image clipped to pure white, for example.

If you over-expose an image of a red rose, for example, you may lose detail on the red channel without actually having any areas of the image clipped to pure white. In this type of situation, you would not see a “blinkies” indication of clipped highlights, for example, while the red channel of the histogram would show that detail was lost on that channel.

With a raw capture it may be possible to pull back the exposure in post-processing to recover detail that had appeared to be lost in the original capture. And if the issue was a matter of over-saturation, reducing the saturation of individual colors can help. But in the case of saturation, the issue is more about making detail that is already there more visible. If the detail isn’t there in the first place, adjustments in post-processing won’t magically bring that detail back.

Highlights versus Whites


Today’s Question: Can you explain the difference between the Highlights and Whites sliders [in Lightroom Classic or Adobe Camera Raw]? Under what circumstances would you use one rather than the other?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Whites slider is used to establish a white point for the image, affecting the brightest pixels the most. The Highlights slider enables you to brighten or darken the relatively bright areas of a photo, focusing on a range of tonal values darker than the range the Whites slider focuses on.

More Detail: You can think of the Whites slider as enabling you to set the value for white in the image. The emphasis is on a relatively narrow range of the brightest pixels in the photo. For a typical photographic image, you would adjust the Whites slider so that the brightest pixels in the image are at (or nearly at) pure white. Of course, for images where you don’t want a true white, you could use a lower value for the Whites slider.

The Highlights slider affects a wider range, emphasizing the effect on tonal values that are darker than those affected by the Whites slider. Naturally there is overlap between the effect of these two sliders, but the differences mean that the Highlights slider is really more about emphasizing or toning down bright highlight textures.

For example, you might typically use a value for Whites that causes the brightest pixels in the image to be pure white. This might cause some of the bright highlight areas to look too bright, without much visible texture. Reducing the value for Highlights will both darken those bright highlights, and also add a bit of contrast to enhance texture and detail.

The same basic concepts apply at the other end of the tonal range, with the Blacks and Shadows sliders. In my opinion, all four of these sliders should be reviewed and possibly refined for every image you optimize in Lightroom Classic or Camera Raw.

Note that you can hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh while adjusting these sliders to get a clipping preview that enables you to see whether (and where) you are losing detail in the image based on the adjustments.