Exporting After Processing

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Today’s Question: After I do my post-processing in Lightroom [Classic], should I then import those photos into my Pictures folder on Windows or is that a redundant process taking up space on my hard drive?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, as far as I’m concerned there is no need to export additional copies of your photos from Lightroom Classic after processing, provided you’re backing up your photos and your Lightroom catalog regularly.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic provides a non-destructive workflow for processing your images. Among other things, that means that when you apply adjustments in the Develop module, you’re not actually modifying the source capture. Instead you’re essentially just creating metadata in the form of the adjustment settings you’ve applied. Lightroom will update the preview for your photos based on those adjustments, but the underlying source captures are not modified.

In part because of this workflow, I know many photographers prefer to export copies of their final processed images, to preserve their adjustments and to provide a backup of those photos. However, I don’t consider this step necessary, and doing so would certainly consume additional hard drive space.

Instead, I recommend making sure to keep your photos and your Lightroom catalog backed up, so that you’ll help ensure you are preserving all of the information about your photos (including adjustments), along with the photos themselves.

Naturally, if you want to share your photos outside of Lightroom you may want to export them. And down the road if you decided to stop using Lightroom (or if Lightroom were discontinued for some reason), you’d want to export new copies of your photos in order to preserve the adjustments as part of those exported copies. But in the context of a normal workflow that revolves around Lightroom Classic, I don’t recommend exporting copies of all processed photos unless you have a specific reason to do so.

Histogram Before Capture

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Today’s Question: When in manual mode with the shutter button 1/2 way down, besides seeing a meter reading on the back screen of my Sony camera, I also see a histogram of the proposed raw shot. I once read that the histogram on the back of a camera is from a JPEG interpretation of the raw shot just taken. Is this also true for my proposed shot? Does it matter if DSLR or mirrorless?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is true that the histogram you’re seeing is based on what can be thought of as an in-camera conversion from the original raw capture to a JPEG preview image. However, that histogram can still be considered quite accurate in terms of the potential for the final image.

More Detail: The fact of the matter is, a raw capture isn’t really an image the way a JPEG is. A raw capture is really just a data file that contains the information collected by the image sensor during the exposure, along with other metadata added by the camera. In effect, you can think of a raw capture as not having a real histogram at all. The raw data needs to be interpreted into full pixel information in order to calculate what the histogram should look like.

This is why you will see a slightly different histogram in the camera, in your raw processing software, and with other tools that interpret the raw capture to present a preview or histogram.

Because you are able to interpret the raw capture with quite a bit of flexibility in post-processing, the histogram you see in the camera or before processing can’t be considered the “final word” in terms of the overall exposure and color information for the image. The raw data can be “finessed” a bit, so that you can recover detail you thought might have been lost, or apply various other corrections to the photo.

While the in-camera histogram either before or after a photo is captured certainly can’t be considered absolutely final in terms of the final potential for the image, it does provide a very good sense of what is possible for the image, as long as you haven’t applied very strong adjustments in the camera. For example, if you apply an extreme increase in contrast in the camera, the histogram will reflect that contrast and may lead you to make inaccurate assumptions about the photo.

So, provided you are keeping the in-camera adjustments at relatively neutral values, I would say that the histogram you see either before or after the capture on the camera’s display is going to be quite accurate for evaluating the exposure for the photo.

Camera Shutter Error

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Today’s Question: I am having a problem with my Canon 50D. Occasionally I have been receiving a “Err 30” which takes a power off/power on to clear. Today I was practicing panning techniques, and it occurred very frequently after 3 or 4 shots. I figure it is at least one of 3 possibilities: a camera/shutter problem, a battery (Watson B-1504) that cannot handle the power requirements, or a slow 8GB CF (SanDisk) rated at 60MB/s. Do you have any suggestions on how to diagnose and fix this problem? I will say that the burst mode indicator of 10 seems rather slow to me, and perhaps it is time to upgrade my camera.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Error 30 on a Canon DSLR indicates a malfunction with the shutter. If this error does not occur very often, removing the battery and replacing it will generally get you back to photography. If the error occurs somewhat frequently I would suggest getting the shutter mechanism replaced, or consider replacing your camera.

More Detail: The “Error 30” message indicates a problem with the shutter mechanism in the camera, but that doesn’t always mean the shutter is failing completely. There are other issues, such as dust or other debris in the camera that can lead to temporary problems with the shutter.

If the problem only occurs once, or very rarely, I would try gently blowing out the camera with a blower such as the Giottos Rocket Blaster (https://timgrey.me/rocket). You could also send the camera in for a professional cleaning and evaluation. However, if the error shows up somewhat frequently, it is an indication that the shutter mechanism is likely failing. In that case I would recommend sending the camera to the manufacturer for repair, or replacing the camera.

The last time I needed to have a shutter mechanism replaced in a DSLR the cost was around $250. That is obviously not terribly expensive compared to replacing the camera altogether, but naturally you might consider using this situation as an opportunity to upgrade to a new or more advanced camera.

Initial Review Workflow

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Today’s Question: I have a follow up to a recent question. Do you import into a separate catalog for non-culled images first and then import only keepers into your primary catalog? I know several photographers recommend taking this two-step approach as a way of keeping track of images not yet culled.

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, I do not use a separate catalog for my initial import. Instead, I now assign a red color label to all images I import to my master catalog. I use that red color label to identify images that have not yet been reviewed, and then I remove the red color label once I have reviewed a batch of photos.

More Detail: In general I try to keep my workflow as streamlined as possible. As part of that effort, I prefer to get my photos imported into my Lightroom catalog as quickly as possible, creating a backup copy of my photos as part of that process.

To be sure, it is important to me that I review all of my photos, so that I am able to identify my favorites and perhaps delete any outtakes. In my mind, using a separate catalog for that culling process would create more complexity. It also creates a situation where I feel there is always a risk that some photos will never make it into my “permanent” catalog.

Therefore, I prefer to import images into my Lightroom catalog as a first step after capture. As part of that import I assign a red color label to the photos, so I always know which images have not yet been reviewed. As soon as I review a batch of photos, I remove the red color label, so I’ll know those photos have been reviewed.

As part of the review process, of course, I may delete some outtakes. More importantly I will identify my favorite photos with a star rating, so it is easy to determine which photos I want to work with and potentially share. Again, the key is that I try to keep my workflow as streamlined as possible.

Metadata on Export

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Today’s Question: I always have automatically write changes in XMP enabled in Adobe Lightroom Classic. My question is if I copy or export a photo will Lightroom also copy the XMP or will Lightroom embed the metadata in the image?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you enable full metadata during the export process, Lightroom Classic will include standard metadata in the exported image file, or in an XMP sidecar file for proprietary raw captures.

More Detail: When you export a photo from Lightroom Classic, you have the option to choose which metadata you want to save along with your photos. If you choose to include metadata as part of the export for a photo, the selected (and supported) metadata will be included in the actual image file. If you choose the “Original” option from the Image Format popup and are exporting a proprietary raw capture, metadata added in Lightroom will not be embedded in the source raw image file. Instead, the applicable metadata will be included in an XMP sidecar file that will be exported alongside the raw capture.

Which metadata is included depends in part on the options selected in the Metadata section of the Export dialog. The Include popup allows you to choose among several options for the metadata you want to include with (versus exclude from) the images being exported. For example, you could choose the “Copyright & Contact Info Only” option to only export your information as the photographer, without including any of the capture settings or other metadata added to the images.

You can also choose whether or not you want to include person and location information as part of the metadata being included with the photos you’re exporting.

In addition, keep in mind that even if you enable the option to include all metadata with the exported images, that doesn’t mean all information from Lightroom will be included. For example, pick and reject flags, collections, history, and other details that are specific to Lightroom will not be included with the exported images.

Including Year in Copyright

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Today’s Question: Is there a reason why your copyright does not include the year? I have been changing this import preset to change it every year.

Tim’s Quick Answer: I exclude the year from the copyright information I add to metadata simply for expediency. This way I can use the same metadata preset without needing to update each year.

More Detail: Traditionally a copyright notice includes the year of first publication. However, including that information is not necessary. In fact, it is not required to include a copyright notice in metadata, nor to actually file your images for copyright protection with the US Copyright Office.

Ultimately, the point of copyright protection is to be able to assert a claim against someone who infringes on your copyright. It can certainly be helpful to file your images with the US Copyright Office, so your claim is officially documented. And anything you can do to help document the date of first publication can also be helpful. In other words, if you need to file an infringement claim, you’ll want to be able to document that the photo in question is yours, and was captured before the infringer published the image that violates your copyright.

So, it can certainly be a good idea to include the year in the copyright notice for your photos. But that is only a metadata value, and doesn’t necessarily relate to the actual date of first publication, and doesn’t actually represent the first publication. I don’t spend much time worrying about copyright infringement, but I’m also confident that if there was infringement I would be able to document the capture date, publication date, and other details of my photos.

Review Before Import

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Today’s Question: Do you personally use any software for “quick” photo review or culling before bringing into Lightroom, such as FastRawViewer or Adobe Bridge?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, I don’t perform an initial review of my images before importing into Lightroom Classic. I prefer to initiate my Lightroom-based workflow as soon as possible. I also feel that the “extra” step of this initial review would actually slow down my overall workflow.

More Detail: Many photographers prefer to use specialized browsing software for their initial review of photos, often using that process to delete outtakes before bringing the remaining images into their normal workflow. A variety of software tools (such as FastRawViewer, which you can find at https://timgrey.me/fastraw) render raw captures very quickly, generally faster than the same previews could be generated within Lightroom Classic.

I certainly understand the motivation for using software such as FasRawViewer before importing images into Lightroom. However, my preferences is to initiate my Lightroom-based workflow immediately, rather than culling images with other software first.

To begin with, I’m eager to get my photos downloaded and backed up, which is part of my workflow for importing photos into my Lightroom catalog. I generate Standard previews as part of this import process, and after that process is complete I find the browsing experience within Lightroom to be perfectly acceptable.

I also feel that the extra step of reviewing images before initiating my normal workflow would add some time to my overall workflow. I also worry that a workflow that is slightly more cumbersome might lead to errors where photos are reviewed with software such as FastRawViewer, but then never imported into Lightroom.

Admittedly, most of this comes down to personal preference. I prefer to get into Lightroom right away to start my organizational workflow. Many other photographers prefer to perform their initial review before importing into Lightroom. If you think the latter might work for you, FastRawViewer is certainly a good software option for this purpose. You can learn more about this software here:

https://timgrey.me/fastraw

Capture Time Updates

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Today’s Question: Does Lightroom [Classic] embed the original capture date into the image file if “write date or time changes into proprietary raw files” is enabled?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To have Lightroom Classic automatically save changes to date and time to your original image files, you must turn on two checkboxes. Of course, the “Write date or time changes into proprietary raw files” checkbox must be turned on in order for date and time changes to be written to the files. In addition, the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox must be turned on so that metadata updates in general are written to the source images in addition to being updated within the catalog. Both of these options are found on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog.

More Detail: There are several date and time values included in the metadata for your images, and if you had your camera set to the wrong time (such as by not updating the time zone) you can update the capture time in Lightroom. After selecting photos within Lightroom (in the Grid view) you can choose Metadata > Edit Capture Time from the menu. You can then apply the appropriate adjustment to the capture time.

By default, Lightroom only updates metadata values for your photos within the Lightroom catalog. However, you can have most updates applied to the source photos as well. To enable this option, you can turn on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog. Keep in mind that Lightroom-specific features such as collections, virtual copies, pick and reject flags, and history, will not be written to metadata as part of this process.

In order to update the original capture time to proprietary raw captures, you must also turn on the “Write date or time changes into proprietary raw files” checkbox. Keep in mind that as noted above, this option will only actually apply if you have also turned on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox.

Initial Review in Develop

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Today’s Question: Recently I have started culling in the Develop module [in Lightroom Classic] rather than the Library module as the 100% zooms are accurate and instantaneous in the develop module and I can easily make adjustments if I want to. The library module is slower and sometimes the photos are not focused even though I make 1:1 previews upon import. I am now considering not making the 1:1 previews at all and simply culling in the develop module as my go-to way of culling. I know Lightroom is not designed to be used this way. Do you have any advice regarding this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Actually, Lightroom Classic has been updated to the point that for many users browsing in the Develop module may be just as fast as in the Library module. Furthermore, previews in the Develop module can be a bit more accurate than those in the Library module. So culling in Develop can make perfect sense.

More Detail: I would agree that Lightroom was originally designed in a way that browsing in the Library module would be faster than browsing in the Develop module, provided you had built Standard previews in advance (or 1:1 previews if you want to zoom in on the photos).

However, Lightroom has obviously been updated substantially over the years, including updates that affect overall performance. If you have a compatible display adapter supported by Lightroom, performance in the Develop module can be greatly improved by having the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox turned on the Performance tab of the Preferences dialog.

What that translates to is that rendering a real-time preview in the Develop module may be just as fast (or faster) than rendering a preview in the Library module. In addition, the previews in the Develop module are rendered in real-time based on the underlying original capture, while in the Library module you are viewing JPEG images rendered from the original captures. The differences are subtle, but it means that the preview in the Develop module can be more accurate than the previews viewed in the Library module.

All of this means that it now makes perfect sense to use the Develop module for browsing photos for your initial review, and frankly for all purposes. Within the Develop module you can obviously apply adjustments along the way. In addition, the various features used to identify favorite photos via keyboard shortcuts. That includes the ability to assign star ratings with the numbers 1 through 5 on the keyboard, color labels with the numbers 6 through 9 on the keyboard, and pick or reject flags with the “P” and “X” keys.

If you do decide to primarily use the Develop module for browsing photos, then it probably makes sense not to build 1:1 previews upon import. You may want to still build the Standard previews to speed general browsing when you are in the Library module, but the 1:1 previews would be much less important at that point.

Restoring Missing Photos

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Today’s Question: I have found that three days of landscape photos are missing from my [Lightroom Classic CC] catalog. I can see that I had imported them previously because they are neatly arranged by date folder on the drive where I store all my photos, yet no entry exists in my catalog for some of the photos. I am wondering how to select just three days of Lightroom edits from a prior backup catalog. I wish to avoid the risk of importing more historical data and over-writing newer files that I have created since the backup, so I only want to use those three days.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can actually resolve this issue quite easily by using the “Synchronize Folder” command to update Lightroom based on the contents of the hard drive you use to store your photos.

More Detail: The scenario outlined in today’s question suggests that the “missing” photos had been imported, but then removed from the Lightroom catalog. When you choose the “Remove Photo” command in Lightroom, you’re given the option to delete the files on the hard drive, or leave the files where they are and remove the photos from the catalog. It appears the latter option was selected for some photos.

In any event, this issue can be resolved quite easily using the “Synchronize Folder” command. The first step is to identify the top-level folder you want to synchronize. In theory you could synchronize the entire hard drive, but in this case you only need to synchronize enough to cover the affected date-based folders. So, for example, you could select the month (or year) folder above the folders that are missing from Lightroom.

Once you’ve identified the top-level folder you want to synchronize, you can right-click on that folder in the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module and choose the “Synchronize Folder” command from the popup menu. That will bring up the Synchronize Folder dialog. Note that when you synchronize a folder, all sub-folders will be included in that synchronization.

After the folder location has been analyzed, you can turn on the “Import new photos” checkbox so that the photos that aren’t already in your Lightroom catalog will be imported. You can also choose to remove missing photos from the catalog, and to check for metadata updates.

Once you’ve established the desired settings, you can click the Synchronize button. The photos that are on your hard drive in the selected folder (or sub-folders) but aren’t in the Lightroom catalog will be imported into your catalog. Those photos can then be browsed in the “Previous Import” collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module.