• Lightroom Workflow

    Mule Deer at the Bosque del Apache NWR Example

File Management and Backup

Backups and File Management

  • In the field, or on a trip
    • Keep images on cards as long as possible (cards are cheap)
    • Do not use huge cards (< 128 GB) -- "eggs all in one basket..."
    • Get a waterproof case for your cards, put your name and phone number on the case
    • Bring two external hard drives on your trips.
    • Bring extra USB cable for hard drive.
    • Bring an extra card reader along.
    • If you get a card read error, try a different cable, do not try to reformat card
    • Always try to have copy of files in at least 2 places
    • Do not keep all cards and hard drives in the same pack or bag.
    • When you fly home, put the memory cards in your pocket, in the protective case
  • File management process
    • Memory card —> Lightroom —> copies files, renames files, add keywords . —> store renamed files on hard drive #1
    • You, manually, copy all RAW files on hard drive #1 to hard drive #2.
    • Separate hard drive #1 and hard drive #2
    • If on a trip, try to keep files on memory card as long as possible

Important Lightroom Preferences

Save Metadata in Sidecar XMP File

Have Lightroom automatically save metadata and changes to files in a sidecar XMP file.

  • A “sidecar” XMP file is saved next to the RAW file
  • The XMP file helps you in the future if you need to send your RAW file with edits to a client
  • The XMP file saves all the changes you have made to your file
  • If your Lightroom catalog becomes corrupted you can reimport the RAW files from the folder, with the sidecar XMP files and your catalog will be rebuilt with all the previous edits

Backup Your Lightroom Catalog Frequently

  • Setup Lightroom Catalog preferences to ask you if you want to backup the Lightroom catalog on each exit of Lightroom.
  •  Helps remind you to backup the LR catalog.
  • If you loose your catalog you loose a lot of work! (keywords, edits, ratings, etc.)
  • Store the backups of the Lightroom Catalogs on other drive(s) than where the images are.  I store my backup catalogs in Dropbox and on other local drives.

Setup Your File Imports to Help You

  • Standard Previews at a minimum.
  • Smart Previews even better
    • You can edit photos from the Smart Preview even if you do not have the original files with you!
    • When you get home and hook up to your hard drive where the RAW files exist, the edits are synced
    • They take up ~ 1MB per photo, way less space than the original files
    • You can make 8×10″ prints, or export to a web JPEG, for the Smart Preview
    • You can create HDR and panoramas in Lightroom from just the Smart Previews
  • Don’t rely on LR to backup original files, the “second copy” option.  Copy them yourself to two separate drives.
  • Set editing preset on import to “zeroed” (see more below…)
  • Filenames that make sense, use the date stamp in your file
  • Have LR create new folder for each year/month/date.  Keep number of files per folder small if possible.

1) Turn Off Lightroom Import Develop Presets

  • By default Lightroom does some image processing as it imports RAW files.
  • How does Lightroom know how to process the image?
  • I suggest turning off the default LR processing on import! Start from a clean slate.

The example below shows how the default Lightroom import sharpening actually makes the noise worse.  It is better to sharpen your photos after noise reduction, especially on high ISO noisy images.

Default Lightroom import preset, known as “none” actually does some slight sharpening.  I do not like this since I may want to do some noise reduction before doing any creative sharpening, as is the case in this image.  See the imported image to the right.

Image after the default Lightroom import.  Note the 25% amount of sharpening automatically applied by Lightroom. Sharpening enhances any noise in the image.  It is better to do sharpening after noise reduction.  Note this image is enlarged in LR to a 4:1 scale to exaggerate the noise.

Setting the import preset to General –> Zeroed is preferred, since it does not do any sharpening.  I prefer to control how much sharpening is done, and to do it after noise reduction is performed.  See the imported to the right.

Imported image when the default import preset is changed from “none” to “zeroed”.  In “zeroed” there is no sharpening applied to the RAW image upon import.   It is better to do sharpening after noise reduction.  Note this image is enlarged in LR to a 4:1 scale to exaggerate the noise.

[sciba leftsrc=”https://inlightofnature.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/MuleDeer_LR_NoneImportPresetWeb.jpg” leftlabel=”None Import Preset” rightsrc=”https://inlightofnature.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/MuleDeer_LR_ZeroedPresetWeb.jpg” rightlabel=”Zeroed Import Preset” mode=”horizontal” width=””]

The image on the left is the default import preset known by Lightroom as “none”.  It actually does do some sharpening.  If you image has any noise in it (most do…) then sharpening before noise reduction accentuates the noise (not good!).  The image on the right of the slider is after I changed the import preset to “zeroed”.  Using this preset Lightroom does not do any sharpening on import.  Note the luminance noise is worst on the left side image, however the color noise is worse on the right side (zeroed case).  The bottom line is I prefer to do the noise reduction myself.

Lightroom Editing Worflow

Clean Up the Lightroom Desktop

Useful to See Keyboard Shortcuts

Mac “Command” + “/”

Windows “Control” + “/”

I can close off the elements of the desktop that I am not using, to help focus on work at hand.

Like this, all I need for developing is shown.

“Command” + “/”  (Mac)  or “Control” + “/”  (Windows) brings up VERY USEFUL list of keyboard shortcuts, for the Lightroom Module you are in.

Lens Corrections

  • Correct for distortions and aberrations in your lens
  • Remove chromatic aberration

Lightroom has a database of lens corrections for most lenses.  Helps remove distortions and aberrations.

Straighten and Crop Image

  • Look for vertical lines (trees, grass, buildings)
  • Look for horizontal lines (distant horizon)
  • Not all lake shores are horizontal lines in the composition!
  • Rule of Thirds for cropping
  • Let animals look into the image
  • Have a place for animals to go
  • Where does our eye naturally travel around in the image?
  • Note Photoshop has nice Content Aware Crop
  • Leave some headroom
  • Do not crop too tight

This image does not really need much straightening or cropping.  I want the viewer to think the deer came from the tunnel in the brush on the right.  The deer is looking forward, so no need to worry about having it looking “into” the left side of the frame, I can crop some of the left side then.  Leave some headroom.  Keep his face approximately at one of the rule of thirds grid lines.

After the crop.  Use the “F” key to see full screen.

Noise Reduction

  • Zoom into 100% to evaluate noise
  • Use LR noise reduction, or third party (Nik DFine 2, Topaz DeNoise, etc.)
    • This choice causes some clunkiness with LR.
    • Doing noise reduction in LR keeps us working non-destructively on RAW file (good)
    • Using third party noise reduction software requires us to create a TIFF

Noise Reduction in Lightroom

  • Luminance slider — move to right removes brightness noise
  • Detail slider — brings back some of the detail after luminance noise reduction
  • Contrast slider — bring back shapes and sharp edges
  • Color slider — increase slider minimizes color variation color noise
  • Move sliders a lot to find transition, then back off just a bit
  • First reduce noise, then creative sharpening to bring back detail

Sharpening in Lightroom

  • Use the option key to show in gray scale
  • Radius slider — [0, 3]
    • changes the size of edges,
  • Detail slider
    • increase it brings out more details in areas where these is texture
    • portrait skin = zero detail
  • Masking slider
    • white reveals, black conceals
    • areas that are white will get sharpening

Original file, no noise reduction or sharpening. Viewed at 4:1 zoom.

Created virtual copy, used only Lightroom to reduce luminance and color noise, then sharpened.  Viewed at 4:1 zoom.

Created another virtual copy from original file, editing in Nik DFine2 as 16 bit, TIFF, ProPhoto RGB color space.

Inside Nik DFine 2

Output of DFine 2, back in Lightroom.  This now needs sharpening.

Sharpened in Lightroom after DFine noise reduction.

[sciba leftsrc=”https://inlightofnature.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/LRresult.jpg” leftlabel=”Lightroom NR + SH” rightsrc=”https://inlightofnature.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/DFineResult.jpg” rightlabel=”DFine NR + Lightroom SH” mode=”horizontal” width=””]

Slider comparison between Lightroom noise reduction and sharpening on the left image, and Nik DFine 2 noise reduction followed by sharpening in Lightroom.  Viewed at 4:1 zoom.

Set Black Point and White Point

  • Setting the black point and white point to the darkest, and brightest points in the image (respectively) widens the tonal range of the image.
  • In Lightroom you can Shift Click on the Blacks Slider to automatically set the Black Point (same for White Point)
  • Or, you can hold the option key while sliding the Blacks Slider to see a white screen until the blacks start to be clipped, then back off (same with Whites)
  • Be careful not to lose details on the blacks, or whites.

White Balance

  • Use eyedropper if you a have a neutral spot on the image then balance the RGB levels
  • Artistic expression in a lot of landscapes, warm up the Bosque del Apache