Wrong Capture Time at Import


Today’s Question: Can you (and do you) adjust capture time to match local time when downloading photos [in Lightroom Classic]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom Classic doesn’t enable you to adjust the capture time for your photos during import, but you can correct capture time later in your workflow. This includes the option to correct the capture time for a large batch of photos for which the camera was set to the wrong time. You’ll also want to be sure that you have enabled metadata updates for your photos so that the capture time correction is not only updated in the Lightroom catalog.

More Detail: There are a variety of reasons you may have photos with the incorrect capture time (or date) in metadata. One of the most common scenarios is when you travel to a different time zone and don’t update the time on your camera along the way.

When you realize the camera was set to the wrong date or time, you’ll naturally want to correct the metadata for your photos. However, Lightroom Classic doesn’t enable you to apply this correction during the import process, so you’ll need to apply the change after the photos have been imported.

You can select multiple photos at once, such as by selecting all photos in the “Previous Import” collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. After selecting the applicable photos and making sure you are in the Grid view (rather than the Loupe view) so you can update multiple photos at one time.

Next, go to the menu and choose Metadata > Edit Capture Time. Assuming the issue was a time zone discrepancy, you would want to select the “Shift by a set number of hours” option, and then select the appropriate number of hours (positive or negative) from the popup to the right under the “New Time” heading based on the necessary adjustment. Click the Change button to apply the change to the selected photos.

It is worth noting that by default Lightroom will not apply these capture time updates directly to your source photos, but instead will only be changed within the Lightroom catalog. To enable updates to the actual image files, you’ll first want to go to the Metadata tab in the Catalog Settings dialog in Lightroom Classic. Within that dialog, turn on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox as well as the “Write date or time changes into proprietary raw files” checkbox. Turning on these checkboxes will ensure that Lightroom Classic updates the capture time metadata in the source image files as well as in your Lightroom catalog.

Organization for Printing


Today’s Question: For photos that you may want to print again, do you save them in a collection? Do you save them as raw or TIFF? Do you print from Lightroom [Classic] or Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I don’t personally organize photos specifically for printing, but that is in part because I don’t tend to print the same image multiple times. That said, for situations where you want to track photos based on printing I would recommend using a keyword for that purpose. When I do print, I prefer to use Photoshop rather than Lightroom Classic. This workflow leads to a TIFF (or PSD) image in addition to my original raw capture, with the raw capture still being alongside the derivative image in Lightroom.

More Detail: For me personally, I select photos for printing based on a “favorite” status from a particular tip. So, for example, I would typically browse the folder containing photos from a particular trip, and then filter based on star ratings. That would enable me to easily locate photos that I want to print.

Generally speaking, I only need to print a photo once, as I don’t really offer prints of my photos for sale. So if I needed to print a photo again in the future, I would generally just browse for that photo.

For photographers who tend to print more frequently, such as when selling prints of their photos, it can be very helpful to use a method of identifying which photos are intended for printing. In this type of situation I recommend using what I often refer to as a “fake” keyword, meaning a keyword used for a purpose that is somewhat beyond the typical intent.

For example, you could assign the keyword “Print” to photos you have printed (or intend to print in the future). You could obviously then search for photos based on the “Print” keyword, or filter the photos in a particular folder. In addition, you could create a Smart Collection based on the “Print” keyword, so that all photos containing that keyword in metadata would be included in the Smart Collection.

As for the actual printing workflow, my preference is to use Photoshop rather than Lightroom Classic for the actual printing. While Lightroom provides all of the key features needed to produce great prints, it doesn’t enable you to exercise fine control over sharpening for print, and doesn’t provide any preview of that sharpening effect. This is the primary reason I prefer to print from Photoshop, where you can exercise much greater control over the sharpening for photos you’ll be printing.

Catalog Location


Today’s Question: I have a desktop computer with an SSD drive for the operating system (that obviously contains the applications) and 4 hard drives, including one for my images, one for image back up, and one for Time Machine. Where should I have my Lightroom Classic catalog located, on the SSD drive or one of 4 hard drives, and why please? Thank you!

Tim’s Quick Answer: I recommend keeping your Lightroom Classic catalog on the fastest hard drive available, which in this case would be the SSD drive (assuming the other four drives are conventional drives).

More Detail: I suppose the most important consideration for where you store your Lightroom Classic catalog is having the catalog readily available when you are working in Lightroom. In general that would mean using an internal hard drive, for example, so that you don’t need to connect an external hard drive just to use Lightroom.

Also important, however, is performance. Keeping your Lightroom catalog on a fast hard drive will help ensure optimal performance in Lightroom. This is why, for example, I generally recommend keeping the catalog on an internal hard drive rather than an external hard drive.

When multiple internal hard drives are available, I recommend keeping the catalog on the fastest available drive. When you have a mixture of SSD and conventional hard drives, you will generally get the best performance from the SSD drive.

Of course, it is quite common for SSD drives to have considerably lower capacity than conventional hard drives, and so storage capacity can be an issue with SSD drives. For this reason, you may need (or want) to store your photos on a different hard drive than the drive being used to store your Lightroom catalog. The key is to keep the catalog on the fastest drive available, which can have a significant impact on overall performance in Lightroom.

Merging Multiple Catalogs


Today’s Question: Can multiple Lightroom Classic catalogs be merged into one?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you absolutely can merge multiple Lightroom Classic catalogs into a single “master” catalog, primarily through the use of the “Import from Another Catalog” command.

More Detail: Many photographers have created more than one Lightroom Classic catalog, for a wide variety of reasons. In general I recommend working with a single “master” catalog in Lightroom that manages your entire library of photos.

If you have already created multiple catalogs you can most certainly merge those catalogs into one. The key is the “Import from Another Catalog” command.

Of course, first you’ll want to be as organized as possible. That means taking an inventory of the catalogs you already have. You’ll also want to make sure all of those catalogs are as “clean” as possible, ideally with no missing folders or photos.

You can then identify one of your catalogs to be the “master” catalog. After opening that catalog you can go to the menu in Lightroom Classic and choose File > Import from Another Catalog. This command enables you to identify an additional catalog that you would like to merge with the master catalog. In effect you are importing the photos and the metadata updates for those photos from a separate catalog into your master catalog.

Once you have gone through this process for all of the “extra” catalogs, you will have a single master catalog that contains all of your photos. At that point you can move all of the “extra” catalogs to a separate location to preserve as temporary backup copies that can eventually be deleted altogether.

Note that I will publish an article with extensive details on the process involved for merging multiple catalogs into a single master catalog, in the upcoming (and overdue) issue of Pixology magazine. Stay tuned for more details!

Metadata Compatibility


Today’s Question: Are there any Lightroom ratings that are visible in other software (such as star ratings)? What about color labels and pick flags? Any others that aren’t?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, as long as you save metadata updates to your source image files the star ratings and color labels will be visible to other software applications that display photo metadata. However, any pick and reject flags you assign will not be available outside of Lightroom Classic, even if you save metadata to your photos.

More Detail: There are two factors involved in making sure that the metadata updates you apply in Lightroom Classic are visible in other software applications. First, you need to make sure you are using metadata fields that are part of an established metadata standard. Second, you need to enable the option to save metadata to your source image files.

When it comes to ratings used to identify favorite (or not-so-favorite photos) in Lightroom Classic, both star ratings and color labels are included in established metadata standards. That means that most (if not all) image-management software would be able to understand the values you have assigned to these metadata fields in Lightroom Classic. However, the pick and reject flags available in Lightroom Classic are not part of a metadata standard, and would therefore not be available to other software applications.

In order for standard metadata updates to be visible to other software applications, you need to make sure that Lightroom is writing those updates to the photos themselves. By default Lightroom only saves metadata updates within the catalog. However, if you turn on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog, standard metadata updates will also be written to the source files in addition to being updated in the Lightroom catalog. Note that in the case of proprietary raw captures the metadata updates are actually written to XMP “sidecar” files rather than the original capture file.

Catalog Backup Retention


Today’s Question: How many versions of your Lightroom Classic catalog do you retain when backing it up?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I generally retain only five backup copies of my Lightroom Classic catalog, including the most recent couple of backups, and backups from about one, three, and six months ago.

More Detail: The whole point of backing up your Lightroom catalog is to provide you with a way to restore from a backup should something go wrong. In general that means recovering from the most recent backup of your catalog. However, in some cases you may need to go back a bit further, which is why I recommend retaining more than just the most recent backup.

For example, if your Lightroom catalog becomes corrupted, it is possible that the most recent backup will also include some of the corruption that caused your catalog to be unusable. In that type of situation you may need to recover from an older backup.

Of course, if you restore from a particularly old backup of your catalog, you’re going to be missing many of the recent photos and metadata updates in that catalog. Therefore, it doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense to retain especially old catalogs. If you need to go back very far, it might be best to just start with a new empty catalog and re-import all of your photos into that catalog.

So, I tend to retain a couple recent backups, as well as a few older backups of my Lightroom catalog. But I don’t retain especially old catalog backups, as old backups may be more trouble than they are worth.

Note, by the way, that one of the ways I help reduce the impact of a corrupted catalog is by saving metadata updates to my source images. This is enabled by turning on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog in Lightroom Classic. With this option enabled, most of your metadata updates will be written to your source image files, helping to reduce the impact of having to start over with a clean catalog and re-importing your photos.

File Renaming Mess


Today’s Question: By mistake I renamed over 30,000 photos outside of Lightroom [Classic]. What is the best approach to fixing this mess?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This is likely a rather significant problem, as Lightroom Classic can’t resolve the issue with any degree of automation. While I rarely recommend this solution, it might make the most sense to synchronize the affected folders, even though that will mean losing some of the metadata information for the affected photos.

More Detail: Because Lightroom Classic uses a catalog to manage the information about your photos, it important that any tasks related to the management of your photos be initiated within Lightroom. If you rename photos (or folders) outside of Lightroom, then the affected photos will appear as “missing” within Lightroom, because they can’t be found where they are expected.

If you had simply renamed a folder, you could reconnect that folder within Lightroom and all of the photos within the folder would no longer be missing. However, if you have renamed a large number of individual photos outside of Lightroom, those photos will need to be reconnected individually.

In other words, it would require quite a bit of time and patience to reconnect all of the missing photos, because you would want to confirm that you are connecting each individual photo correctly. For example, you might browse the individual photos in Adobe Bridge, compare each photo to the preview within Lightroom Classic, and then use that information to determine how to reconnect the missing photos with the applicable source file on your hard drive.

With such a considerable amount of work to do, it may be best to essentially start over in some respects. If the 30,000 photos that are now missing represent the bulk of the photos you are managing in Lightroom Classic, it might be easiest to create a new catalog and re-import from scratch. Note that this might cause you to lose most metadata updates to your photos, unless you had enabled the option to automatically save metadata updates to the photos themselves.

If the photos are a relatively small percentage of the total being managed in your Lightroom catalog, you might instead want to synchronize the affected folders. This will cause missing photos to be removed from Lightroom, and new photos to be imported. That would resolve the larger issue here, but would also cause you to potentially lose many of the metadata updates you had applied. You can initiate this process by right-clicking on a folder and choosing “Synchronize Folder” from the popup menu. After the scan is complete in the Synchronize Folder dialog you can click the Synchronize button to have Lightroom process the folder.

Needless to say, today’s question helps demonstrate why it is so important to work within Lightroom when you want to make changes to the overall storage structure for your photos. That said, if you do have a mess in Lightroom, you can learn to get things cleaned up with my “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom” course available in the GreyLearning library here:


Folder Structure Revision


Today’s Question: If you wanted to move from a date-based folder structure to a location-based structure, would you do that major revision of folder structure from within Lightroom Classic? Is there another practical option?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you absolutely should perform that work within Lightroom Classic, not outside of your catalog. This will ensure that the changes are reflected both on your hard drive and within Lightroom.

More Detail: As I’ve said many times, one of the most critical things to keep in mind when using Lightroom Classic as the foundation of your workflow for managing photos, it is critical that all tasks related to your photos be initiated within Lightroom. That includes making changes to your folder structure.

If you want to rename or consolidate folders containing the photos you are managing in Lightroom Classic, you can simply make those changes within Lightroom. For example, if you want to rename a folder, you can right-click on the folder within the Folders list in the left panel of the Library module and choose “Rename” from the popup menu. In the dialog that appears you can then enter a new name and click the Save button.

If you want to consolidate photos from multiple folders into a single folder, you can first rename (if necessary) the primary folder, and then select the photos you want to move and drag-and-drop them to the destination folder. If this process results in one or more empty folders, you can right-click on the empty folder and choose “Remove” from the popup menu.

The key is to keep in mind that the basic folder and file management features are available within Lightroom, so that you can rename folders, move photos, and remove empty folders, in order to refine your overall folder structure. Most importantly, be sure this work is performed within Lightroom Classic, not through your operating system or other software.

And, of course, if you have a bit of a mess on your hands in Lightroom Classic, my popular “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom” course can help. Note, by the way, that Chapter 3, Lesson 7 in this course demonstrates a process for cleaning up date-based folders, which is the topic of today’s question. You can get more info (with a discount included automatically) by using this link to get started.


Metadata Longevity


Today’s Question: Will future (post-Lightroom) versions of other software recognize and honor the metadata in sidecar (XMP) files for photos that were optimized in the Lightroom Classic Develop module or in Adobe Bridge?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Metadata that is included as part of an existing metadata standard can be preserved and recognized by other software beyond Lightroom Classic. However, most of the adjustment settings would likely be lost in this type of scenario.

More Detail: Many of the metadata fields you might update in Lightroom Classic represent fields from established metadata standards. This includes such things as keywords, star ratings, and other common metadata values.

Other metadata values you can update in Lightroom Classic represent what are essentially Lightroom-specific features. That includes things such as collections, pick and reject flags, and the adjustments you apply within the Develop module.

For the most part, Lightroom-specific metadata values are not saved to your source image files when you choose to save metadata to the actual image file on your hard drive. However, interestingly enough, the adjustments you apply in the Develop module are saved to the files in this case. So, for example, the XMP sidecar file associated with a proprietary raw capture can contain the settings for the adjustments you applied in the Develop module for each photo.

However, some applications are able to extract certain adjustment settings from the metadata based on the Develop module in Lightroom Classic. For example, if you are using a version of Exposure X from Exposure Software, you can migrate some of your Lightroom Develop adjustments (along with other metadata) using their Lightroom to Exposure Migration Tool. You can learn more about this particular option on the Exposure Software website here:


In general, you should assume that only standard metadata fields will be preserved outside of the context of a Lightroom-based workflow. Even then, that metadata will only be preserved with your source images if you have saved metadata to your photos. This is one of the reasons I recommend turning on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog in Lightroom Classic. However, even with this option enabled, it is important to keep in mind that not all metadata will be preserved. In addition, the metadata from the Develop module would likely not be available to other applications beyond Lightroom, Adobe Bridge, and Adobe Camera Raw (via Photoshop).

“Fake” Keywords


Today’s Question: Do you organize at all based on how your images are used? For example, printed or uploaded to Flickr or delivered to a client or included in a webinar? If so, how? Keywords? Collections?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When I feel it is appropriate based on my specific needs, I do organize photos based on how they are put to use. I use special keywords for this purpose, which I refer to as “fake keywords”.

More Detail: Today’s question is somewhat related to the question I addressed in yesterday’s Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter. When it comes to keeping track of special attributes for photos, such as how they are used, I make use of special keywords for this purpose. I refer to these as “fake keywords” because they are keywords used in a way that is different from the more typical approach of identifying subjects within the photo.

For example, I enjoy sharing some of my favorite photos through my Instagram feed (and I encourage you to follow my account, with user name “timgreyphoto”!). I prefer to keep track of which photos I have already shared to Instagram, in part to ensure I don’t accidentally share the same photo twice. For this purpose I add the keyword “InstagramShare” to photos I share on Instagram.

If I also wanted to create a collection that included these photos, I would actually create a smart collection rather than a “normal” collection. A smart collection is essentially a saved search result, so in this example I would specify criteria for the smart collection so that photos with the “InstagramShare” keyword would be included in the smart collection automatically.

I don’t happen to identify photos as having been printed, but that is certainly something else you could accomplish with a “fake” keyword. In short, I recommend adding a special keyword to any photo for which you would like to preserve a particular status for. Even better, those “fake” keywords can help preserve information that would be lost if you were to lose your Lightroom catalog. That is because features such as collections, pick and reject flags, and other Lightroom-specific features, are not saved to the metadata for your photos even if you have enabled the option to have metadata saved automatically to your source image files.