Moving the Catalog Safely


Today’s Question: I have my [Lightroom Classic] catalog and images on an external hard drive. I think there are advantages to have the catalog on the internal hard drive. Can I move it without causing problems?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can indeed move your Lightroom Classic catalog to a different storage location. Having the catalog on an internal hard drive will often provide improved performance compared to using an external hard drive. You just need to be sure to quit Lightroom Classic first, and then transfer the entire folder containing the catalog file to the new storage location.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic revolves around a catalog that contains the information about the photos you have imported into Lightroom Classic. Performance can be improved by having the catalog on the fastest hard drive available, which often means an internal hard drive rather than an external hard drive.

Of course, some photographers prefer to have their catalog on an external hard drive along with their photos so that they can move the drive between more than one computer, and work with their catalog and photos on different computers.

Moving the catalog is relatively straightforward. First, you’ll want to know where the catalog is actually stored. You can get this information in the Catalog Settings dialog, which can be accessed from the Edit menu on Windows or the Lightroom Classic menu on Macintosh. On the General tab of the Catalog Settings dialog you can click the Show button to open a window in your operating system showing the folder that contains your catalog, with the folder selected.

Before moving that folder, you need to quit Lightroom Classic. You can then drag-and-drop the folder to the preferred storage location. As a precautionary step, it is a good idea to back up the catalog before moving it. In addition, I recommend copying the folder that contains your catalog files, rather than moving it. You can then rename the original folder to indicate it is a backup copy, so you don’t accidentally use that version of the catalog moving forward.

Once you’ve copied the catalog files to the new location, you can open the catalog in Lightroom Classic by double-clicking on the catalog file with the “lrcat” (as in Lightroom Catalog) filename extension. That will launch Lightroom Classic and open the catalog in the new location, and everything within Lightroom Classic will be just as it was before you moved the catalog.

Resolution for TV Display


Today’s Question: If you were going to project images on a TV mounted to a wall, what kind of resolution would you suggest?

Tim’s Quick Answer: For photos you’ll project on a TV (or digital projector or computer monitor) I recommend resizing the images based on the actual pixel dimensions of the display.

More Detail: When sharing photos digitally, they can be resized to pixel dimensions that match the pixel dimensions of the display or projector that will be used to present the images. The pixel-per-inch (ppi) resolution is not a factor in this context.

Before you can resize the images, you need to know the pixel dimensions of the display. Keep in mind that in most cases it is possible to set a number of different resolution settings for the display, so you’ll want to confirm which setting will actually be set on the display.

Some displays may use a relatively low resolution, at least by today’s standards. For example, you may find some displays use 720p HD resolution, which translates to 1280×720 pixels. Other displays might make use of 1080p HD resolution, which has pixel dimensions of 1920×1080.

Newer television displays often have higher resolutions, such as 4K or even 8K. A display with 4K resolution will generally have pixel dimensions of somewhere in the vicinity of 4,000 pixels on the long side. That might be something like 4096×2160 pixels, for example. Displays with 8K resolution will offer pixel dimensions of around 8,000 pixels on the long side. For many photographers, these large pixel dimensions may actually represent a higher resolution than their camera captures in the first place.

And again, keep in mind that the resolution promoted for a given display is not the only resolution the display will be capable of projecting in most cases. So be sure to prepare your images based on the display resolution setting that will actually be used.

Easy Model Releases


Today’s Question: How do you handle permissions and model releases when you take someone’s photo?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I use a mobile app called Easy Release ( to create digital model releases using a smartphone.

More Detail: Depending on how a photo is used, you may need a model (or property) release in order to publish the photo. For example, if a recognizable person appears in a photo that will be used in an advertisement, a model release is generally required.

I have found that the Easy Release app for both iOS and Android mobile devices makes the process of creating a release fast and easy. Among other things, this can help improve the chances that someone you want to photograph will sign the release, since the process is so straightforward.

With the Easy Release app you can enter contact information and other details about the model, capture a reference photo of the person that becomes part of the release, and have the model sign the release directly on your mobile device. You can then generate a PDF document that includes the full release details.

If you photograph people or private property, it is a good idea to get a release from the model or property owner. The Easy Release app is in my opinion an excellent way to create a signed release.

Preserving Raw Adjustments


Today’s Question: Does XMP include edits in the Development module [in Lightroom Classic or via Adobe Camera Raw]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, when XMP files are saved for raw captures edited with Adobe Camera Raw or Adobe Lightroom Classic, along with standard metadata values the adjustments themselves are preserved.

More Detail: When you edit a raw capture using Adobe Camera Raw, or with Lightroom Classic if you have enabled the option to automatically write metadata updates to the source image files, standard metadata values are saved to XMP “sidecar” files alongside the original raw captures. That metadata includes standard fields such as keywords and star ratings, for example.

In the context of Lightroom Classic, that saved metadata does not include features that are specific to Lightroom Classic. Metadata based on those features, such as pick/reject flags, collections, and virtual copies, are not included in the metadata saved to the source images. Instead, that information is only contained within the Lightroom Classic catalog.

Interestingly, however, the adjustments you have applied in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic (or using Adobe Camera Raw) are saved in the metadata for the source image. That means that, for example, if you had lost your Lightroom Classic catalog, the standard metadata and Develop adjustments would still be available simply by importing the original photos into a new catalog.

In Lightroom Classic the option to automatically save metadata to the source image files is turned off by default. However, you can enable this option by turning on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog in Lightroom Classic. That dialog can be found by choosing “Catalog Settings” from the Edit menu on Windows or the Lightroom Classic menu on Macintosh.

Synchronized Photos


Today’s Question: In the Catalog section [on the left panel in the Library module of Lightroom Classic] there is a caption marked “All Synced Photographs.” Can you explain this feature?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “All Synced Photographs” collection in Lightroom Classic automatically includes all photos you have synchronized to the Creative Cloud online storage. These are the photos contained within collections that have synchronization enabled.

More Detail: In Lightroom Classic you manage the storage of your photos locally, such as on hard drives connected to your computer and with a folder structure that you define. This differs from the cloud-based version of Lightroom, where online “cloud” storage is the primary method of managing photos.

However, you can still make use of synchronization of photos to online storage for selected photos in Lightroom Classic. That enables you to access those synchronized photos from virtually anywhere by using the Lightroom app for mobile devices or accessing Lightroom through a web browser by signing in to your Creative Cloud account at

To synchronize photos to the cloud using Lightroom Classic, you can simply turn on synchronization for a collection. First, make sure synchronization is enabled within Lightroom Classic by clicking the cloud icon that appears at the top-right of the Lightroom Classic interface.

You can then enable synchronization for a collection. If you hover your mouse over the name of a collection in the Collections section of the left panel, you’ll see an icon appear to the left of the collection name. An empty checkmark indicates that synchronization is not enabled for the collection. A double-headed arrow icon indicates that synchronization is enabled. You can click on the icon to toggle synchronization of the collection on or off.

Of course, before synchronization a collection you need to create a collection and add photos to it. To create a collection, click the plus (+) button to the right of the Collections heading on the left panel in the Library module, and choose “Create Collection” from the popup menu.

In the dialog that appears you can enter a meaningful name for the collection and turn on the “Sync with Lightroom mobile” checkbox so synchronization will be enabled for the collection. Click the Create button to create the collection, and then drag-and-drop photos into the collection to add them to the collection and initiate cloud synchronization for those photos.

Strategy for Deleting


Today’s Question: Given the catalog flexibility [in Lightroom Classic], do you do much deleting?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I generally do very little deleting of photos, but I’ll admit that at times I do think about going back and getting rid of some of the photos that I don’t feel I need to keep for any reason.

More Detail: Every photographer will of course capture photos that end up not being favorites and possibly not really being needed at all. These photos are often referred to as “outtakes”, and different photographers deal with outtakes in different ways.

Some photographers are very quick to delete photos they consider outtakes. Others, including myself, are slow to delete outtakes. In fact, I generally haven’t bothered deleting outtakes at all.

There are several reasons for this approach to outtakes in my workflow. The first is a concern that I may later regret deleting a photo. Even a photo that wasn’t of the best quality, for example, may still have sentimental value. In addition, I’ve generally not felt that it was worthwhile to delete outtakes. It is very easy to filter images based on metadata so that you’re only seeing your favorites at any given time, for example.

Over time, however, as my Lightroom Classic catalog has grown to more than 400,000 images, I’ve started to think about deleting outtakes, especially for older photos. This is partially motivated by storage capacity. While storage is relatively cheap, I’ve run into an issue where my photo storage needs exceed the capacity of my preferred hard drives.

My preferred hard drives are LaCie Rugged drives (, which in addition to being ruggedized are bus-powered, meaning a power adapter is not required because the drive gets its power from the data connection. However, the largest capacity for the LaCie Rugged drives is 5 terabytes, and my current photo storage requires about 7 terabytes.

So, I either need to opt for different hard drives to provide higher capacity, store my photos across more than one drive (which is what I’m doing currently), or start deleting outtakes. I’m considering going through the process of deleting outtakes but haven’t started on that project as of yet.

Recovering with XMP


Today’s Question: To clarify, can an entire Lightroom Classic catalog be built strictly from a complete set of XMP files?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you make use of the option to save metadata to the source images in Lightroom Classic, you can recover most of the information about your photos if you lose your catalog, provided you still have the source images and the related XMP sidecar files.

More Detail: Today’s question was a follow-up asked during my recent all-day GreyLearning Virtual Photo Conference. It was in response to comments I made about being able to recover from a lost or corrupted catalog in Lightroom Classic by importing photos into a new catalog based on the XMP sidecar files saved along with the original raw captures.

If you turn on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog in Lightroom Classic, standard metadata updates (such as star ratings and keywords) are saved to the source image files on your hard drive, or to XMP “sidecar” files for proprietary raw captures.

It is important to keep in mind that enabling this option does not preserve all information from your Lightroom Classic catalog. Some of the features specific to Lightroom Classic, for example, are not preserved when metadata is saved to the source images. For example, collections, virtual copies, and pick/reject flags are not preserved in this way.

So, I still recommend that you regularly back up your Lightroom Classic catalog. However, by enabling the option to save metadata to the source images you have the additional opportunity to recover from a lost catalog by simply importing your photos into a new catalog.

The XMP sidecar files represent metadata supplements for the source raw captures. Therefore, you would need to have both your original raw images and the accompanying XMP sidecar files in order to use this recovery process. You could then simply import those photos into a new catalog, and retain standard metadata values and Develop module adjustments, but not all information that had been in the original catalog.

So, this XMP option isn’t perfect as a backup, but it does provide some additional peace of mind in addition to a good workflow for backing up your photos.

Determining the Folder


Today’s Question: In Lightroom Classic, if you’re looking at an image under All Photographs, how can you tell what folder it’s in?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are actually several ways you can determine which folder a photo is in, including by using an option to automatically navigate to the folder containing a selected photo.

More Detail: In Lightroom Classic there are a wide variety of ways you can locate images. That includes browsing the “All Photographs” collection found in the Catalog section near the top of the left panel in the Library module, possibly using filters to locate a particular image.

When you have located an image outside of the context of a folder, you naturally may want to determine which folder contains the image, and perhaps browse that folder to find related images.

To begin with, once you’ve selected a photo the name of the folder is shown in the Folder field on the Metadata panel, as long as you’ve selected a metadata display option that includes this field. That display option can be selected from the popup to the left of the Metadata heading on the right panel in the Library module. The “Default” and “EXIF and IPTC” metadata display options include this Folder field, for example.

In addition to seeing the name of the folder that contains the current image, you can also navigate to the folder in a couple of ways. First, to the right of the Folder field in the Metadata section of the right panel in the Library module you’ll see a button with a right-pointing arrow on it. Click that button to navigate to the folder that contains the selected image.

You can also right-click on an image and choose “Go to Folder in Library” from the popup menu to navigate automatically to the folder that contains the image you right-clicked on. Using any of the options presented here though, you can easily identify the name of the folder that an image is contained in, and even navigate quickly to that folder.

How Much to Feather


Today’s Question: How do you know how much to feather a selection [in Photoshop]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The short answer is that you don’t know how much to feather a selection by in Photoshop, which is why I recommend applying feathering to the layer mask created based on a selection rather than the selection itself.

More Detail: In many cases when you create a selection in Photoshop the selection edge will have a non-feathered border. In other words, the selection will transition from the selected area to the non-selected area with little to no transition in between.

In many of the situations where you would put a selection to use, you want to have a bit of transition between the selected and non-selected areas of the image. For example, if you’re using a selection as the basis of an adjustment that only affects the selected area of the photo, you’ll generally need to have at least a little bit of blending between the area being adjusted and the area not being adjusted.

With experience you can of course anticipate approximately how much feathering might be needed for a given selection. However, even with that experience it is much easier to apply feathering once you can actually see the effect of feathering in the context of the actual image.

So, I recommend that you not apply feathering to a selection, since it can be challenging to select the optimal value for that feathering when all you can see is the selection itself. Instead, I recommend not applying feathering until you’ve used the selection as the basis of a layer mask for either an adjustment layer for a targeted adjustment or an image layer for a composite image.

Once you have created a layer mask based on a selection, you can use the Feather control on the Masks tab of the Properties panel to feather (blur) the layer mask, or use Select and Mask mode to exercise greater control over the refinement of the edge of that layer mask, including feathering.

When to Enable GPS


Today’s Question: Do you only use GPS tracking when you travel or is it on always?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I always keep the GPS antenna enabled on my camera, even though doing so depletes the battery, in large part because I don’t want to risk forgetting to turn the GPS back on if I turn it off.

More Detail: I personally find it helpful (and interesting) to know where I was when I captured a photo. Sometimes I want to be able to determine a location so I can return there to photograph again, sometimes I need a reminder of the location or subject matter for a photo, and sometimes I just find it interesting to review where certain photos were captured or simply to review the map in Lightroom Classic to see the various locations I’ve photographed.

Because I like to be able to see where a given photo was captured, I keep the GPS antenna enabled at all times on my camera. It is important to keep in mind that in order to record GPS coordinates for a photo, the camera must have established an adequate signal from multiple GPS satellites in orbit. Photos captured indoors, for example, will typically not include GPS location information in metadata. An exception to this would be a smartphone used to capture a photo, since the cellular signal can be used to aid in location tracking.

The primary disadvantage of keeping the GPS receiver enabled is battery drain. My experience has been that having the GPS receiver enabled causes my batteries to last about half as long as they otherwise would. In addition, with some cameras (including mine) the battery will drain even if the camera is turned off. For this reason, when I’m not using my camera for an extended period of time, I eject the battery.

Obviously, if you’re confident you’ll remember to turn the GPS antenna back on for your camera when you want to record location data for your photos, then you could certainly disable GPS at times when you don’t feel the need to have location information added to metadata, or when photographing in a situation where you’re not able to obtain a GPS signal in any event, such as with photography indoors.