Course Published: “Mastering Adobe Lightroom”

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All lessons in my comprehensive new “Mastering Adobe Lightroom” video course have been published!

This course focuses on the cloud-focused version of Lightroom, not Lightroom Classic. With this version of Lightroom you don’t need a catalog and you can now manage photos both locally and in the cloud.

The lessons in this course provide lessons to help you better understand and configure Lightroom, organize your photos, make full use of the optimization features, and learn how you can share photos from Lightroom. You can get more details on the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/mastering-adobe-lightroom-cloud-2024

The “Mastering Adobe Lightroom” course is included at no additional charge in the GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle (http://timgrey.me/atg99bundle), but is also available as a standalone course at the link above.

Webinar Recording: “Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, or Bridge?!”

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Are you confused by having three applications from Adobe aimed at helping serious photographers manage their photos? I can help!

In my latest live online presentation as part of the “GreyLearning Live!” webinar series, I provided insights into the similarities and differences between Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Lightroom Classic, and Adobe Bridge.

These three applications from Adobe all provide a workflow solution for organizing and optimizing your photos. This presentation will help you choose which is right for you, and how each impacts your workflow.

A recording of the full presentation is available on my “Tim Grey TV” channel on YouTube here:

https://www.youtube.com/live/BwpneG4y0nQ

The Lightroom Ecosystem

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Today’s Question: You made reference to the “Lightroom ecosystem” in one of your answers, and I’ve never heard that term before. Can you please explain what this ecosystem is?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When I say “Lightroom ecosystem” I’m preferring to all the products that have access to Lightroom cloud-based storage, which includes two desktop applications (Lightroom and Lightroom Classic), the Lightroom app for mobile devices, and the ability to access Lightroom in a web browser.

More Detail: When the term “Lightroom” comes up, I imagine most photographers think of one of the two desktop applications that (confusingly) share the same basic name. Lightroom Classic is the desktop application focused on local photo storage and employing a central catalog to manage the information about your photos. Lightroom (without the Classic in the name) had previously been focused exclusively on cloud-based storage of photos, but now also supports browsing local photos as well.

Lightroom Classic can synchronize copies of photos to cloud-based storage through the use of collections that have synchronization enabled. If you add photos to Lightroom (rather than just browse them locally) the original images are moved to cloud-based storage and access via an internet connection (and local cache).

In addition, there is a Lightroom app for mobile devices, which enables you to work with the photos that have already been saved to the cloud via Lightroom or Lightroom Classic, for example, but also allows you to add photos that are already on your device or capture new photos via the camera feature from within the Lightroom mobile app.

You can also access cloud-based photos using Lightroom in a web browser (https://lightroom.adobe.com). This approach provides you with an interface that is very similar to the Lightroom desktop application, allowing you to organize and optimize photos stored in the cloud.

With all these tools in the Lightroom ecosystem, any changes you make to cloud-based images are synchronized to the cloud, and therefore updated everywhere. For example, if you convert a color image to black and white through Lightroom in a web browser, the next time you browse that photo in either Lightroom desktop application or the Lightroom mobile app you will see the updates reflected.

In general, I recommend that photographers use only one of the desktop applications, choosing either Lightroom or Lightroom Classic, as I explained in my webinar presentation yesterday on “Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, or Bridge?!”, which can be found on my “Tim Grey TV” channel on YouTube here:

[https://youtube.com/live/BwpneG4y0nQ]

In addition to one of the two desktop applications, you can then supplement your workflow with the Lightroom mobile app and with Lightroom in a web browser, to take full advantage of the Lightroom ecosystem.

Catalog Backup for Lightroom Cloud

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Today’s Question: You referred to the cloud version of Lightroom not having the issues with a catalog the way Lightroom Classic does. But Lightroom does store an “lrlibrary” file on my computer. Isn’t that a catalog? Shouldn’t I be backing it up to protect my data?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Lightroom Library file for the cloud-focused version of Lightroom is a local cache, not a catalog. What amounts to the catalog and your original photos for cloud-based storage are stored (and backed up) on Adobe’s servers, and there’s not really any need to back up the Lightroom Library file.

More Detail: Much has been made of the use of a catalog in Lightroom Classic, and understandably so. Because the information about your photos in the context of Lightroom Classic is stored in a central catalog file, it is important that all updates related to your photos be made within Lightroom Classic. If you were to rename or move photos or folders outside of Lightroom Classic, the catalog would no longer be connected properly to all your photos, and you could have a big mess on your hands very quickly.

With the cloud-focused version of the Lightroom desktop application there isn’t a central catalog. For photos stored in the cloud you can’t get to those photos outside of the Lightroom ecosystem, so there’s no way to end up with missing photos, since they are being managed in the cloud for you. For photos stored locally and managed with Lightroom, the software is behaving as a browser that does not employ a catalog, so you can make changes both inside and outside Lightroom without any problems.

The Lightroom Library file (which has a filename extension of “lrlibrary”) is simply a local cache. It enables you, for example, to browse and work with cloud-based photos even if you’re not online. The next time you do get online any updates will be synchronized back to the cloud. If you were to delete that file and then launch Lightroom it would simply be built for you again. The only way you would lose any data is if you deleted the Lightroom Library file after making changes while working offline in Lightroom. But assuming you’re connected to the internet while using Lightroom, the risk of losing any data due to a damaged or deleted library file is extremely small.

Keywords as Color Labels

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Today’s Question: In your video about migrating from Lightroom Classic to Lightroom you mentioned that color labels become keywords since color labels aren’t supported in Lightroom. Is there a way to use those color label keywords in the same way you have recommended in the past such as to mark photos that still need to be reviewed?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The keywords assigned to images that are imported with existing color labels can be helpful, but they don’t provide the flexibility of being able to use color labels in a more typical way in your workflow.

More Detail: As noted in yesterday’s Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, the cloud-focused version of Lightroom (as opposed to Lightroom Classic) does not support the color label feature. You’re able to assign star ratings as well as pick and reject flags in Lightroom, but not color labels.

As regular readers may know, I assign a red color label to all photos upon import into Lightroom Classic as a way of marking those photos as still needing to be reviewed to identify favorites versus outtakes. In the non-Classic version of Lightroom this isn’t supported because color labels aren’t directly supported.

If you migrate from Lightroom Classic to Lightroom using the built-in utility, color label assignments are converted to keywords. For example, a red color label will be converted to a keyword of “label_red”. However, this same process does not apply to photos that are simply browsed via the Local tab in Lightroom, nor for photos you add to cloud-based storage.

As a result, the feature for converting color label assignments to keywords is of very minimal usefulness. You could certainly adopt that concept to make use of keywords in the place of color labels, similar to my concept of “fake” keywords that I’ve addressed from time to time. For example, you could add a keyword of “label_red” to all photos you want to make sure to review, and then you can filter based on that keyword to locate photos for review.

However, in my view using keywords to take the place of color labels is not anywhere near as helpful as the proper color label feature that is supported by many other applications, including Adobe Bridge and Adobe Lightroom Classic. I therefore hope that Adobe will add full support for color labels to the cloud-focused version of Lightroom in the near future.

Color Labels in Lightroom “Cloud”

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Today’s Question: I was watching your videos on the “cloud” version of Lightroom, and noticed that you didn’t use color labels the way I’ve seen you do in Lightroom Classic. Is there a reason you don’t use color labels to mark images for review in Lightroom the way you do in Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The reason I don’t use color labels in the cloud-focused version of Lightroom is that color labels aren’t supported in Lightroom, at least for now.

More Detail: When I import new photos into my Lightroom Classic catalog, I use a metadata preset to update some of the metadata fields for my photos, including adding a red color label to all imported photos to indicate that I still need to review those photos to identify favorites versus outtakes.

In the cloud-focused version of Lightroom, color labels are not currently supported. I’m hoping Adobe will add support for color labels in Lightroom in the future, because I do find them to be very helpful in my workflow. I use color labels to mark photos for a particular status, such as a red color label for photos that need to be reviewed. I then use star ratings to identify favorites, and a reject flag to mark photos as outtakes that I will later delete.

Since color labels aren’t currently supported in Lightroom, I recommend using a workflow that makes it clear which photos still need to be reviewed. For images in cloud-based storage you can create an album for this purpose, with a name such as “Photos to Review”. For photos in local storage you can use a meaningful name for the folder, and also mark it as a favorite so it will appear on the Favorites list and therefore be more noticeable.

I would very much like to see support for color labels added to the cloud-focused version of Lightroom, but in the meantime there are ways you can work around that limitation within your workflow.

If you’d like to learn how to put the cloud-focused version of Lightroom to use in your workflow for organizing, optimizing, and sharing photos, check out my “Mastering Adobe Lightroom” course on the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/mastering-adobe-lightroom-cloud-2024

Cropping versus Composite for Panorama

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Today’s Question: When it comes to panoramic photos, why not just crop the scene to a panorama rather than assemble a composite image from multiple captures? Wouldn’t the final image be the same either way?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is often possible to achieve the same overall composition for a panorama with either cropping or a composite image. However, with a composite image you’ll be able to produce larger output than if you had simple cropped a single photo, which can be especially important if you intend to print the image.

More Detail: Assuming you position the camera at the exact same location, you can achieve the same framing for a panoramic image by using a relatively wide-angle lens for a single frame or a longer focal length lens for a series of images that will be assembled into a composite panorama. There may be some distortion issues involved if you need to use a wide-angle lens for the panorama created by cropping a single image, but the overall framing can be the same.

The key difference, however, is that a composite panorama will have a much higher resolution than a single image cropped to a panorama.

For example, let’s assume a camera with a 24-megapixel image sensor. Assuming an output resolution of 300 pixels per inch (ppi) and an image cropped vertically but not horizontally, you would have a panorama that could be printed with a width of 20 inches without interpolation. Even if you only used three frames to capture a composite panorama, with about 25% overlap between frames, you would still be able to print the composite panorama at a width of 45 inches without interpolation.

If the composite panorama involves more frames, the benefits in terms of output size are even greater. But the point is that with a composite panorama you’re able to achieve much larger output size than would be possible by cropping a single photo.

If you only share your images digitally, or if you don’t need to produce large prints, then you could most certainly achieve the same basic panorama with a single photo that is cropped rather than creating a composite panorama. Just be sure to consider the potential for image distortion if you need to use a wide-angle lens to capture the single frame. For situations where you need to use a particularly short lens focal length to capture the scene in a single frame, you may prefer to create a composite panorama to avoid that distortion, even if you don’t need the larger potential output size.

Location of Adjustments for Lightroom

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Today’s Question: Where are photo edits from the cloud-based version of Lightroom desktop stored? I know the edits to raw files in Lightroom Classic are stored in the catalog and optionally as .XMP files next to the raw files, and the same with Bridge. But how about with the cloud-based version of Lightroom? How do you back up the edits for the photos?

Tim’s Quick Answer: For photos stored in the cloud with the Lightroom desktop application (not Lightroom Classic), the edits are stored in the cloud as well. You can back up the edits by exporting with the “Original” option, which includes the original image plus the settings.

More Detail: The cloud-centric version of Lightroom (not to be confused with Lightroom Classic, though it is obviously confusing) now enables you to manage photos with both local storage and cloud storage options. For local images the metadata is saved to the source image, with an XMP file created or updated for raw captures.

For photos that are stored in the cloud with Lightroom the photos and metadata are stored in the cloud. You can specify that you want copies of the originals stored locally as well, by turning on the “Store a copy of all originals” checkbox on the Cache tab of the Preferences dialog. You can also designate where you want these copies to be stored.

However, enabling that option means you aren’t really taking full advantage of cloud-based storage for your photos. Note, by the way, that Adobe does maintain a backup for your photos that are stored in the cloud, minimizing the risk of any of those source images ever being lost.

Instead of storing a copy of all originals locally, it can be more efficient to only export copies of the cloud-based photos that you want to back up locally along with the settings for the image. To do so you can select the photos you want to back up to local storage, click the sharing icon toward the top-right of the Lightroom interface, and choose the “Original” option. You can then designate the location where you want to save the exported copies and click the Export button. The source raw captures along with an XMP sidecar file containing the metadata for each source raw image will then be downloaded to the location you designated.

Lightroom Without a Catalog

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Today’s Question: You made reference to one of the differences between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom being that the former involves using a catalog and the latter does not. But how does that catalog impact the workflow for Lightroom Classic compared to Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The fact that Lightroom Classic utilizes a catalog to manage the information about your photos creates a fundamental issue in your workflow, which effectively makes it mandatory that all tasks related to your photos be initiated within Lightroom Classic. Because Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Bridge do not use this type of catalog you have more flexibility in your workflow.

More Detail: I think it is very important to understand that while the catalog in Lightroom Classic can create some challenges, it also provides some potentially significant benefits in your workflow.

One of the key reasons I consider Lightroom Classic to be a critical component in my workflow is that it enables me to quickly and easily search across my entire catalog of almost 400,000 photos and videos. I can set a filter based on star ratings, keywords, camera gear or settings, or a variety of other metadata fields, and instantly be viewing only the photos that match that criteria, across my entire catalog.

The drawback to using the catalog is that if you make changes outside Lightroom Classic, such as moving or renaming folders or photos, or even updating metadata, you can have a very big mess on your hands very quickly within your catalog.

Adobe Lightroom (the non-Classic version) does not employ a catalog in this way, and so you don’t need to worry about making updates outside of Lightroom. For photos you are accessing the local storage in Lightroom, you can use any combination of software you’d like, such as by switching freely between Lightroom and Adobe Bridge. For cloud-based photos you can only access the images through the Lightroom ecosystem (desktop, mobile, or web), and so it isn’t possible to do any harm as could be possible with the catalog in Lightroom Classic.

In this regard it is “safer” to use Lightroom than Lightroom Classic. But of course, there are also features and capabilities in Lightroom Classic that aren’t available in Lightroom.

Note that I’ll be presenting a webinar soon that will focus on the differences between Adobe Bridge, Adobe Lightroom, and Adobe Lightroom Classic, which will be helpful for photographers wanting to better understand these tools and for deciding which might be the best fit for your workflow. Stay tuned for more details soon!

Bridge versus Lightroom

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Today’s Question: I’m strictly a long time Camera Raw and Bridge user. Is there any compelling reason to switch over to Adobe Lightroom? Or is sticking to what I’m used to a better plan?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While Adobe Lightroom provides a slightly more seamless workflow than the combination of Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw and the ability to synchronize selected images to cloud-based storage, it is important to consider the potential learning curve involved in switching to Lightroom.

More Detail: Adobe Lightroom provides approximately the same feature set as the combination of Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw. There are obviously some differences, but there are many similarities as well. While the similarities make a transition relatively easy between the two, you need to consider whether the benefits of Lightroom will be meaningful to you.

If it would be helpful in your workflow to synchronize some (or even all) of your photos to cloud-based storage, that would be a strong argument in considering Adobe Lightroom instead of Adobe Bridge. That synchronization, for example, enables you to have photos available from virtually anywhere, via the Lightroom desktop app, the Lightroom app for mobile devices, or by accessing Lightroom through a web browser on any internet-connected computer.

I also like that the workflow is a little more streamlined in Lightroom, by virtue of effectively having Camera Raw built right into Lightroom. That means you can switch seamlessly between organizing and optimizing photos within a single interface, rather than switching between Bridge and Camera Raw, for example.

In my view Adobe Lightroom provides enough advantages over Bridge and Camera Raw that I think it is worth considering switching to Lightroom (or to Lightroom Classic if you’re not opposed to using a catalog to manage your photos). However, if you’re concerned about the learning curve involved, that might be reason enough to stick with what you know, as long as you feel that workflow is serving you well.

And of course, if you’re interested in learning to make the most of Adobe Lightroom, even if you’re not yet sure if you want to incorporate it in your workflow, my comprehensive video course on “Mastering Adobe Lightroom” can help. You can get all the details of this course on the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/mastering-adobe-lightroom-cloud-2024