Deleting Cache Files

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Today’s Question: My internal hard drive was starting to fill up so I went looking for large files that I could delete. I found that I have two Adobe Camera Raw Cache folders. The first which contains 54.2Gb of data was last modified on 11 Dec 2018 and the second was created on 12 Dec 2018 and contains 27.6Gb of data. I assume the second cache was created following an update to Lightroom. Can I delete the older cache folder and its data, and if so what is the safest way?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can delete the Camera Raw Cache folders without creating any problems, other than possibly slowing down the browsing of photos that have been modified either in Lightroom or directly via Adobe Camera Raw (for Photoshop users). In this case you probably only need to delete the older cache, but if you delete both a new cache folder will be created automatically as needed.

More Detail: A cache file is generally a temporary storage location to help improve performance for a given software application. As such, it is generally safe to delete any cache. Since the cache is created in the first place to improve performance, the only potential negative side-effect of deleting a cache would be slower performance when that cache can’t be leveraged.

When you removed an outdated version of Lightroom (or Photoshop), old caches would typically be removed. I suspect in this case there was some sort of glitch that caused the cache to remain after the software was removed, or that the older version wasn’t in fact removed.

Note that the date for the folder does not reflect the age of the cache. I suggest looking inside the cache folder to see what the most recent file dates are. In this case the older cache folder most likely only contains older cache files that are no longer necessary.

I suggest making sure the Lightroom (and Photoshop) are not running when you delete the cache folders. You can then simply delete the entire folder from your hard drive. Once your Trash (Macintosh) or Recycle Bin (Windows) has been emptied, the space that had been consumed by the cache will be freed up.

Note that if you delete both cache folders Lightroom (or Photoshop) would simply create a new cache folder as needed. Therefore, as noted above, there isn’t any risk of deleting a cache that had still been in use, other than a potential degradation of performance.

Managing Storage in Lightroom

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Today’s Question: You often write about storage and backup issues, emphasizing your recommendation to keep one catalog in Lightroom Classic CC. I’m about to run out of space on my computer’s internal hard drive. Is there a way you would recommend to offload some Lightroom-based photos that I don’t need to access very often to one of my external drives, in order to free up room on my internal drive but still keep one catalog?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key to freeing up storage space in this type of situation is to move folders (or photos) within Lightroom Classic CC, rather than directly through your operating system. This may require that you create a new folder on an external drive you’re not currently using to manage any photos, and then dragging folders (or photos) to that folder destination.

More Detail: One of the most important things to understand about Lightroom is that once you’re using Lightroom to manage your photos, all tasks related to your photos should be initiated from within Lightroom. That includes the process of moving photos or folders to a different storage location.

In this type of situation, the first step is to ensure the destination drive is available within Lightroom. If it is not already listed after connecting the drive to your computer, you’ll simply want to create a new folder on that drive within Lightroom. To do so, click the plus symbol (“+”) to the right of the Folders header on the left panel in the Library module, and choose “Add Folder” from the popup menu. Then navigate to the hard drive you want to move photos to, and click the “New Folder” button at the bottom-left of the dialog that appears. Enter a name (such as “Photos”) for the folder, and click Choose at the bottom-right of the dialog.

This folder (and the hard drive you created it on) will now be listed in the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module. You can then drag folders from the internal drive to the new folder you created on the external drive. After confirming you want to move the files on the hard drive, Lightroom will move the folders and images while still keeping those images in your single Lightroom catalog.

Of course, I highly recommend backing up your photos before getting started with this process, and then updating a backup of all drives after performing this work. For the external hard drives I recommend using a synchronization backup to another external hard drive, using software such as GoodSync (http://timgrey.me/greybackup).

Auto Adjustment Discrepancy

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Today’s Question: When creating a new Develop Preset [in Lightroom Classic CC] I can enable “Auto Settings”. This causes Tone, Saturation and Vibrance options to be turned off. Do I want EVERY checkbox turned on to get the best use of the Adobe Sensei feature in Lightroom? If I make a preset with EVERY option turned on, then why does clicking “Auto” again cause further adjustments to the image? Shouldn’t the Auto on import be correct enough?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The only adjustment that is impacted by the Adobe Sensei technology is the “Auto Settings” adjustment, which in turn impacts a set of adjustments in the Basic section of the right panel in the Develop module. For reasons that aren’t clear to me, you will indeed get different results if you apply the “Auto” adjustments with a preset during import into Lightroom Classic CC versus later in your workflow with a preset or by using the “Auto” button in the Develop module.

More Detail: Adobe recently updated the “Auto” adjustment to make use of Adobe Sensei, which is their artificial intelligence (AI) technology for performing a variety of tasks, including applying adjustments to photos. In Lightroom Classic CC the “Auto” adjustment affects the values for the Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks, Vibrance, and Saturation adjustments.

In the context of the Develop module in Lightroom, you will always get the same result when clicking the “Auto” button, which is found to the right of the “Tone” heading in the Basic section of the right panel. In other words, if you click “Auto” and then reset or revise the applicable adjustments, clicking the Auto button again will produce the exact same adjustment settings as you got the first time you clicked Auto.

Furthermore, if you save “Auto Settings” as part of a preset and then apply that preset in the Develop module, you will get the exact same results for a given photo that you would have if you clicked the Auto button. However, if you use the same preset while importing photos into your Lightroom catalog, you’ll get a different result.

I’m not sure if this difference represents a glitch in Lightroom Classic CC, or if Adobe intentionally doesn’t employ the Adobe Sensei technology during the import process. I’ve not been able to locate any information about this discrepancy. In any event, there is a difference in the behavior, which is why the “Auto” button is still enabled in the Basic section of the right panel in the Develop module even for images that have had the “Auto” adjustment applied during import.

Reconnecting Lightroom

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Today’s Question: I am using Lightroom [non-cloud version] with external hard disk. Due to a problem with my computer, Lightroom lost the connectivity with this external drive and I am not sure how to establish that connectivity again. Can you recommend a solution?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this type of situation the solution is to make sure the external hard drive has the same drive letter (on Windows) or volume label (on Macintosh) as it did before your computer problem occurred.

More Detail: This is a question I have addressed previously in the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, but because it is a somewhat common question that actually has a relatively simple solution, I wanted to address it again.

With Lightroom your photos are stored separately from your catalog. The catalog references the photos by their storage location and filename. This is why it is critical to not rename files or folders outside of Lightroom. Put simply, when you’re using Lightroom to manage your photos, you want to initiate all image-management tasks from within Lightroom.

If you experience a problem with your computer or make changes to an external hard drive, it is possible that the drive will have a different identifier (drive letter or volume label) than Lightroom is expecting. This is an especially common issue on Windows, because changing the order in which you plug in external hard drives can cause those drives to be assigned different drive letters.

Macintosh users can essentially just rename the hard drive on their computer to match the name Lightroom is expecting. This name is the volume label, which is how the Macintosh operating system tracks your individual drives.

For Windows users you’ll need to set the drive letter for the external hard drive to match what Lightroom shows for that drive on the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module. You can get instructions for changing a drive letter for a hard drive on the Microsoft website here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/storage/disk-management/change-a-drive-letter

Spot Removal Synchronization

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Today’s Question: Suppose I use the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom Classic CC on a photo, then crop the photo so that the spot removal areas are no longer visible. If I then decide to sync the spot removals over a number of other photos, will the that work, or will it not work because the spot removals have been cropped out of view?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, when you synchronize Spot Removal tool adjustments across multiple photos in Lightroom Classic CC, all cleanup spots from the source image will be reproduced even if those areas fall outside of a crop in one or more of the images.

More Detail: When you synchronize adjustments for multiple photos you have selected on the filmstrip while working in the Develop module, you can choose which adjustments to include as part of that synchronization. After selecting the images you want to synchronize, you’ll want to click on the thumbnail for the image you want to use as the basis of the synchronization.

Next, click the Sync button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module. This will bring up a dialog where you can choose which specific adjustments you want to include in the synchronization. For example, you might want to synchronize all available adjustments except for the crop, so that each image can be cropped individually.

If you include Spot Removal as one of the adjustment options to be synchronized, all cleanup spots from your source image will be duplicated in the images you are synchronizing. The specific results will be customized based on each image, but the source and destination areas will be duplicated across all selected photos.

Even if a cleanup spot appears outside the current crop for the source image or one or more of the destination images, all cleanup areas in the source image will be duplicated to all of the selected destinations images when you apply a synchronization that includes the Spot Removal option.

Timing for Deleting Outtakes

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Today’s Question: Where in your workflow do you purge photos that you know you will delete eventually? I know some are throwaways immediately, but there are many more that are borderline and I think might be decent with some post-processing work.

Tim’s Quick Answer: My personal preference is to not delete photos too early in my workflow, just in case I later change my mind. Therefore, I will typically mark photos that I feel can be deleted (such as with a Reject flag in Lightroom Classic CC) and then only delete at a later date when I feel confident that the photos can definitely be deleted without consequence.

More Detail: I don’t actually tend to delete very many photos, in large part because I don’t want to take the risk of regretting that I’ve deleted a given photo. In addition, I generally don’t feel it is worth going back to review my photos in order to look for some that could be deleted, since storage is relatively cheap and I always have what I feel are more important tasks on my to-do list.

That said, there are most certainly photos that I know I don’t need to keep and would like to get rid of. In my case this is especially true for video clips, which tend to consume considerably more storage space than still photos.

When I see a photo (or video) that I feel can probably be deleted, I’ll initially mark it with a Reject flag in Lightroom. Later in my workflow, when I’ve had a chance to further review and apply adjustments to my favorite photos from a given trip, I will get to the point that I know the outtakes I’ve marked with a Reject flag can comfortably be deleted. I will then use the “Delete Rejected Photos” command from the Edit menu to eliminate the photos I had marked with a Reject flag.

My preference is to be as consistent as possible in my workflow. Therefore, I use this somewhat cautious approach even for photos that clearly can be deleted without consequence, such as an image that was accidentally captured with the lens cap still attached to the lens. I feel that being consistent with these types of workflow tasks can help avoid mistakes.

Autofocus Range Selection

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Today’s Question: My Canon 100-400mm lens lets me choose between 1.8m to infinity and 6.5m to infinity [for autofocus]. Would you explain the conditions under which you would select one or the other? Most people I know seem to leave it permanently on the 1.8m option.

Tim’s Quick Answer: These ranges relate to the distances the camera’s autofocus system will search when attempting to achieve focus. Selecting the narrower (and more distant) range can enable focus to be achieved more quickly, and can therefore be helpful as long as you don’t need to set the focus closer to your position than the selected range provides.

More Detail: When you establish focus for a scene, you are essentially setting the distance at which you can expect sharp focus for the lens. A given lens will have a close focus limit, representing the closest distance from the lens that focus can be achieved. In the example included in today’s question, the closest focus point for the lens is 1.8 meters (a little less than six feet). So, when you activate autofocus, the distance at which focus can be established could be anywhere between 1.8 meters and infinity.

Naturally, the greater the possible focus distance range the more time might be required to find the right point at which to focus. Many lenses therefore provide an option to restrict the autofocus to search across a shorter total distance. For the lens noted in today’s question, you can opt to limit the autofocus search so that the closest distance the lens will attempt to achieve focus is 6.5 meters (a little more than 21 feet).

If you know you won’t need to focus any closer than the starting point for the narrower range, you can select that range on the lens. In this example, by switching to the more distant range the lens won’t try to achieve focus for the range between 1.8 meters and 6.5 meters, even though the lens is capable of focusing within that range.

So, if you are confident you won’t need to focus closer that the more distant range will allow, you can select the more distant range to help ensure you’ll be able to establish focus as quickly as possible, all other things being equal. That is because you are restricting the range the lens will search for focus, so less time will be necessary to search the full range in order to establish focus.

Better Photos with Film?

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Today’s Question: I have started cleaning out a lot of old slides and am keeping the ones I like the best. I kind of think I did very good work back in those days, meaning before I switched to digital in 2005. Was I more careful? Did I pay more attention to detail because the entire shooting experience was less automated? What are your thoughts on this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I think most photographers would tend to be more selective in their photography when shooting with film. My feeling is that this resulted in a higher percentage of “good” photos compared to digital. Since many photographers tend to capture more photos with digital, the percentage of “good” shots might be lower, even if their best shots today are better than their best film photos earlier in their photography.

More Detail: I completely agree that photographers in general were more careful in the days of film. Even through film and processing weren’t terribly expensive all things considered, there was still a sense that you were paying extra for each frame. Adding to that was the notion that each roll of film typically had 36 exposures available, and so the faster you were shooting the more often you would need to replace a roll of film. Changing a roll of film didn’t require a tremendous amount of time, but if you needed to change rolls at an inopportune moment, you might miss a great photo opportunity.

With digital photography we have media cards that provide virtually unlimited photography at least in the context of a single scene or subject. We rarely really need to think about running out of storage space. We also don’t feel like we’re “wasting film” with digital photography. So there’s more of an attitude of “I might as well capture the photo” even if the scene isn’t all that inspiring. You can always delete the photo later, and you haven’t really given up very much by capturing an extra image.

For these reasons and others, I think photographers were more careful with film photography. Of course, we’re also taking photos with digital that we might have passed on with film, and some of those could have turned out to be great images. I also feel that digital provides better review and learning opportunities, especially in terms of instant feedback, compared to film.

On balance, I suspect most photographers have improved their skills and creativity over time, so they are probably taking better photos now than they did back in the days of film photography. However, since most photographers are also capturing far more photos now than they probably did with film, the percentage of “great” photos may be lower. That could mean that for many photographers their best photos now are better than their best photos with film, but that they’re also capturing a lot more outtakes now than they ever did with film.

Discarding Previews

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Today’s Question: My preview file [in Lightroom Classic CC] has grown to a huge size because I use the full-size preview option for faster browsing. I am running out of space on my laptop and have in the past trashed the file and started from scratch. But it takes a long time to rebuild the previews. Is it possible to move the preview file to an external drive with larger capacity?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is only possible to store the previews file on an external hard drive if you also move the Lightroom catalog file to an external hard drive, since the catalog and previews must be in the same location. Otherwise your only option is to discard 1:1 previews, or to delete the previews file and have Lightroom re-build previews as needed.

More Detail: Lightroom creates previews for your images so they can be browsed more quickly, and so you can view your images even if the source file is not currently available. The previews are stored in a file in the same location as the catalog file that contains all of the information about the photos you’re managing in Lightroom.

While the catalog file will be relatively small even when you are managing a large number of photos, the previews file can get quite large. For example, my previews file has grown to over 100 gigabytes for my catalog of about 400,000 photos. That means the previews file can consume a considerable amount of storage space on your hard drive.

If you delete the previews file you won’t actually lose any information, as Lightroom will simply build the previews again the next time you browse your photos. Of course, that means browsing will be a slower experience until all previews are generated. The previews file will be in the same folder as your Lightroom catalog, and will have the same base filename as the catalog but with “Previews” added to it. The filename extension is “lrdata” rather than the “lrcat” extension for the catalog file.

In the case of 1:1 previews, you can actually discard those without deleting the previews file. Start by navigating to the folder location you want to delete previews for (or the “All Photographs” collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. You can select the specific photos you want to discard previews for, and then go to the menu and choose Library > Previews > Discard 1:1 Previews. The confirmation dialog will give you the option to discard previews for only the selected photos, or all photos in the current location. Standard previews cannot be discarded in this way, but of course 1:1 previews are generally larger and therefore have the potential to consume more storage space.

Impact of Video Shutter Speed

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Today’s Question: In a recent answer you addressed recommended shutter speeds when shooting video on a DSLR. I didn’t quite understand what you meant about the video having a “stuttering appearance” when playing back. Can you provide an example of that?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When I refer to a “stuttering” appearance in video captures, I mean that there is a lack of fluid motion within the video. You can see an example of this effect in a video clip included in a post on the GreyLearning blog here:

http://greylearningblog.com/stuttering-video-with-fast-shutter-speed/

More Detail: When you use a fast shutter speed in video, fast motion gets frozen, and the sense of motion gets lost to some extent. An object moving quickly across the scene will appear to jump from one position to the next, rather than smoothly transitioning across the frame.

Of course, with a relatively slow shutter speed for video there will also be more motion blur in general, which is not necessarily a good thing, depending on your intent.

The bottom line is that the shutter speed you use when recording a video can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of your video, so it is worth giving careful consideration to which shutter speed you’re using when establishing your overall exposure settings for video.