How do I clean up my keyword list?

In the previous post, we learned how to start keywording from scratch, but many Lightroom users have already added a few keywords, so this week, we’ll do some cleanup.

How do I edit an existing keyword?

If you want to edit a keyword, perhaps to correct the spelling, simply right-click on the keyword in the Keyword List panel and select Edit Keyword Tag. When you rename a keyword, it’s automatically updated on all of the tagged photos too.

How do I delete a keyword from a single photo or from all photos?

If you add a keyword to a photo by mistake, you can remove it using either the Keywording or Keyword List panel. With the photo(s) selected, select the keyword in the Keywording panel and press Delete/Backspace to delete the keyword, or remove the checkmark against the keyword in the Keyword List panel.

To delete the keyword from the keyword list as well as any tagged photos, select it and press the – button at the top of the Keyword List panel, or right-click and select Delete.

How do I create or change the keyword hierarchy?

By default, new keywords are added as a flat list, but you can drag and drop them into a hierarchy of nested keywords.

As you drag a keyword onto another keyword, that new parent keyword is highlighted. When you release the mouse, the keyword moves inside the new parent keyword, just as you would drag folders onto other folders to make them into subfolders.

If you want to do the opposite and change a child keyword into a top-level keyword, drag and drop the keyword between existing top-level level keywords instead. As you drag, a thin blue line appears. Don’t worry about dropping it in the right place in the list, as the Keyword List is automatically set to alpha-numeric sort.

If you’re building your keyword hierarchy for the first time, and want to add a series of child keywords inside the same parent, select Put New Keywords Inside this Keyword from the right-click menu. Any new keywords are then added to that keyword as child keywords, unless you specifically choose otherwise. The keyword is marked with a small dot next to the keyword name to remind you. To go back to adding new keywords at root level, right-click and uncheck the same command.

How do I merge duplicate keywords?

At some stage, you’re sure to end up with duplicate keywords. Perhaps, before you decided on consistent capitalisation, you added dog to some photos and dogs to others. Or perhaps you edited photos in another program and the photo came back into your catalog with new flat keywords. Merging them isn’t as easy as it should be, but it is possible:

  1. In the Keyword List, click the arrow to the right of the “wrong” keyword to show the photos tagged with that keyword.
  2. Select all of the resulting photos in the Grid view and drag them onto the “right” keyword, or check the checkbox next to the “right” keyword. This assigns the “right” keyword to the photos.
  3. Finally, go back and delete the “wrong” keyword.


Over the last 4 weeks, we’ve only skimmed the surface of keywording in Lightroom. We’ve discussed the kind of keywords you might add, whether to use flat or hierarchical keywords, and the basics of getting started with adding keywords to your photos. For more detailed information, see the Keywording section of my LRCC/6 book, starting on page 140.


Next week, we’re carrying on with the cleanup – this time, merging and deleting multiple catalogs.

The post How do I clean up my keyword list? appeared first on The Lightroom Queen.

Lightroom and macOS Sierra Compatibility

macOS SierraThe newest Mac operating system, macOS 10.12 Sierra, goes live later today. The big question is, does Lightroom work?

The good news is Lightroom CC 2015.7 and Lightroom 6.7, which are available right now, do work on Sierra. It’s possible that there are minor issues that haven’t been spotted yet, but it has been through extensive testing on Sierra and the known issues have been fixed.


Lightroom CC 2015.6 / 6.6 and earlier

The bad news is, if you’re on Lightroom CC 2015.6 / 6.6 or earlier, you will need to update, but don’t worry, it’s a free update for Lightroom CC and Lightroom 6 users. Earlier LR CC/6 versions have known issues including:

  • In the Import dialog, the Apply During Import and Destination panels are not visible.
  • Canon cameras are not detected for tethering. Nikon cameras may also have issues.
  • The message “Modify Exposure with +/- keys” is displayed during every launch.
  • Right-clicking to access context menus anywhere in Lightroom throws an uncaught exception.

To update, go to the CC app and press the Update button, or go to Help menu > Updates from within Lightroom.


Older Lightroom Versions

Older Lightroom versions are not supported, and will not be updated. They haven’t been extensively tested, but I upgraded to Sierra 10 days ago (developer’s GM build) and have done some initial testing. I’ll add new issues to this list as I hear about them.

  • LR 3, 4, 5 – In the Import dialog, the Apply During Import and Destination panels are missing. To show them again, right-click on another panel header and reselect them in the menu.
  • LR 3, 4, 5 – Canon, Nikon and Leica tethering do not work.
  • LR 2, 3 4, 5 – The message “Modify Exposure with +/- keys” or similar is displayed during every launch
  • LR 3 – Some direct camera connections not detected by Import dialog (workaround – use a card reader)
  • LR 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.0, 5.1 – Cosmetic sliders issues shown below:


If you want to upgrade to Lightroom CC/6, to help you decide whether to upgrade to a subscription or a perpetual license, there are pros, cons and purchase links on my How to Buy Lightroom page.

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What is a Lightroom catalog?

There are basically two different types of image management software – databases (catalogs) and file browsers. So what’s the difference? Let’s compare to a physical library of books to illustrate.


A file browser looks at the files directly on the hard drive and organizes photos by folder. This is like walking straight into the library and looking round the shelves of books organized by topic. If someone’s borrowed a book, you won’t even know it exists.

A database is a series of text records. This is like the library’s catalog of books. In the old days, it was made up of drawers full of cards, but these days it’s all computerized. Each card – or computerized record – contains information about the book, who wrote it, a description, its ISBN number, perhaps a picture of the cover, and most importantly, which shelf the book is stored on. The books themselves are still on the shelves. They’re not IN the catalog. If someone’s borrowed a book so it’s no longer on the shelf, you can still see the information describing the book, but you can’t read the book until it’s returned to its shelf. If someone moves the book to a new shelf, the information on the card is incorrect and you’ll be looking in the wrong place until the record is updated.


Lightroom’s catalog works in the same way. Photos are never IN the catalog. The Lightroom catalog contains text records of information describing the photos, with small previews stored nearby, and most importantly, a note of where each photo is stored on the hard drive. If the hard drive is disconnected or a photo is moved to a new location, you can still see the information describing the photo and a small preview in the catalog, but you can’t work with the photo until the original file is found.

Why does understanding the catalog matter?

We’re very familiar with working in file browsers. Windows Explorer and Mac Finder are used on every single Windows and Mac computer, so handling files in a browser comes naturally to most computer users.

Catalogs are different. If you move, rename or delete a file outside of Lightroom, the records in the catalog won’t get updated to match. Lightroom will still be looking in the old location on the hard drive for the file, and won’t be able to find it. When this happens, you’ll be left with exclamation marks on the photos, and you won’t be able to edit or export the photos (just like you can’t read a library book until you find the book itself).

As well as the information about the original image files, the catalog contains all of the work you’ve done to the photos. This includes flags, stars, keywords, captions, stars, flags, collection membership, and more. Even your Develop edits are stored as a series of text instructions in the catalog itself. While it is possible to store some of this metadata with the files (in a format called XMP), by default it’s only stored in the catalog. If you remove the photos from the catalog, all of your Lightroom edits will be gone. Even if you reimport the photos later, you won’t get this information back.

What do you need to remember?

  • Always rename photos within Lightroom, using the Photo menu > Rename command. If you don’t, you have to fix the links one at a time. BIG job!
  • Move photos within Lightroom by dragging and dropping them on another folder – or if you move them using Explorer/Finder/other software, update Lightroom’s records immediately, before you forget where you put them.
  • Don’t remove photos from the catalog unless you’re also intentionally deleting the original photos (e.g. the fuzzy ones).
  • Back up your catalog regularly. It contains a lot of essential information!

So should you have one catalog or multiple catalogs? That’s up for discussion in the next post in the series.

The post What is a Lightroom catalog? appeared first on The Lightroom Queen.

Should you have one catalog or multiple catalogs?

weigh-multi-catSince version 1.1, Lightroom has been able to create and switch between multiple catalogs, but the question is, just because you can, should you?

There is no ‘right’ number of catalogs. As with the rest of your Lightroom workflow, it depends on how you work. So should you use a single main working catalog*, or should you split your photos into multiple catalogs?  Let’s consider the pros and cons…

Why is a single catalog the best choice for most photographers?

  • The whole point of a DAM (Digital Asset Management) system like Lightroom is being able to easily search through them and find specific photos, but you can’t search across multiple catalogs (e.g., to find the best photos from multiple shoots) without opening each catalog in turn.
  • It’s a pain to keep switching catalogs, especially since you can’t switch catalogs while a process is running (e.g., if you’re running an export in one catalog, you have to wait for it to complete before switching to another catalog).
  • Mobile sync only works with one catalog.

Why do some people recommend multiple catalogs?

  • Some people say that small catalogs are faster than big catalogs, and this is true in some circumstances:
    • Smaller catalogs are faster to open and back up than very large catalogs – but how many times a day do you need to open and back up?
    • Big catalogs can be slow to search, if you’re searching the whole catalog – but it’s still faster than opening multiple catalogs in turn to search through each one.
    • We should define big/small catalogs – even 50,000 photos counts as a small catalog… 4 million is big!
    • As long as the catalog’s optimized regularly and stored on a fast drive, viewing and working in individual folders/collections should be almost the same speed regardless of catalog size.
  • Some people encourage multiple catalogs on the basis that you’ll have less to lose if your catalog becomes corrupted – but simply backing up the catalog regularly works just as well.
  • Some people say it’s easier to organize photos by topic in separate catalogs, perhaps separating their bird photography from wildlife. We’ll consider alternatives that may be simpler, later in this post.

For most amateur photographers, the benefits of a single master catalog massively outweigh the disadvantages. Professional photographers may need to weigh the pros and cons a little more carefully and decide what’s right for their workflow.

Who should consider multiple master catalogs?

  • You want to separate “Work” shoots from “Home” (or “His” and “Hers”) and there’s no overlap.
  • You have multiple employees who need to be working in Lightroom at the same time, and the web interface doesn’t offer the features that the “other” people need.
  • You shoot for other people and it’s essential that their photos don’t mix (e.g., The Smith baby shoot doesn’t get accidentally dropped in the Jones folder, and Mr Smith doesn’t accidentally see Mrs Jones makeover shoot.)

How do you differentiate between shoots in a single catalog?

If your reason for multiple catalogs is simply wanting to separate work from home, or His and Hers, then consider the ways you can do so in a single catalog. For example, your Folders, Collections and Keywords panel may have separate hierarchies for each style:


This way, you still have all of the benefits of a single catalog, but with the ability to quickly and easily view and search specific photos.

What if there’s more of an overlap? Perhaps some of your holiday landscapes are used in work brochures. Then leave all of the photos in a single dated folder structure and just use ‘virtual’ divisions, using Collections and metadata filters (based on Keywords, or even Copyright metadata) to differentiate.


If you do decide to use multiple catalogs, there are some danger areas to look out for:

  • Be careful that the same photos don’t end up in multiple catalogs, as this causes no end of confusion (for example, they may be edited in one catalog but not the other, have different keywords in different catalogs, or when renamed/moved in one catalog they get marked as missing in the other, etc.)
  • Be careful that the photos don’t end up in the “wrong” catalog, as transferring them is a pain.
  • Be careful that you don’t completely miss importing some photos.
  • Watch out for different keyword spellings and hierarchies, especially if you’re going to merge catalogs later.

If you decide you need multiple catalogs, there are also a few questions to ask yourself:

  • How are you going to divide the catalogs?
    • By client (all of the shoots for the Jones family – engagement, wedding, baby, family)
    • By job (the Jones baby shoot)
    • By date (2016)
  • How will you know which catalog to open to find a specific photo? For example, it would be easy to remember that Kate & John’s wedding photo would be in Kate & John’s catalog or in the 2016 Weddings catalog, but it’s not so simple to remember whether a photo of a friend would be in the 2014, 2015 or 2016 catalog.
  • Do you ever need to search through all of your photos to find a specific photo, or group together your best shots for your portfolio? If so, you may choose the best of both worlds: keep your current photos in a small working catalog (or a catalog per job), and then use Import from Catalog to transfer them into a large searchable archive catalog when completed.
  • Where will you store the catalogs? Will you keep all of the catalogs together in a single folder, or keep the catalog in the same folder as the photos?
  • How will you make sure they’re backed up regularly?
  • How are you going to make sure there’s no crossover, with the same photos appearing in more than one catalog?
  • Where are you going to put the photos that don’t fit into the categories you’ve selected?
  • How will you make sure your keyword lists are consistent in all of your catalogs?

As a general rule, use as few catalogs as you can. For most photographers, that’s a single catalog, but if you need additional catalogs, think it through carefully before you act. Multiple catalogs can work, but they also add a degree of complexity that’s unnecessary for most photographers.

If you already have multiple catalogs and you want to figure out which ones you can delete, or how to merge them into a single catalog, don’t worry – we’ll come back to tidying up existing catalogs later in the series. If you want to get started now, see pages 522-524 in my Lightroom CC/6 book.

In the next post in the series, where should you store your photos?


* In this post, we’re not referring to temporary catalogs which are created for a purpose, for example, to take a subset of photos to another machine before later merging them back in, but more specifically, your main working or master catalog.

The post Should you have one catalog or multiple catalogs? appeared first on The Lightroom Queen.

Oooops, how do I undo?

man slip banana skinIt happens to all of us… you move the wrong slider, sync settings across too many photos, or the cat walks over the keyboard and all of your hard work disappears. Your beautifully edited photo ends up looking completely different and they all end up with the wrong star ratings. Oooops! But don’t panic, there are a few options to undo your mistake, so let’s walk through them one by one.


If the mistake has only just happened, the first port of call is the Undo command. That’s Ctrl-Z on Windows or Cmd-Z on Mac. When pressed repeatedly, it steps back through your recent actions, whether that’s slider movements, metadata changes, or simply switching between modules. If you go too far, press Ctrl-Y (Windows) / Cmd-Shift-Z (Mac) to redo the last action.

There are a few actions that can’t be undone using these shortcuts, such as deleting photos from the hard drive, but the dialogs always warn if an action is not undoable using this shortcut.


Lightroom Develop History panelBut what if you come back to a photo some time later and discover you synchronized Develop settings across the wrong photos, or applied some other incorrect Develop settings? Undo won’t help if you’ve restarted Lightroom, but the History panel can.

Lightroom keeps a record of all the Develop changes made to each photo. You can see this list in the History panel on the left in the Develop module.

To go back to an earlier version, click on an earlier history state in the History panel. If you make further changes, a new history is written from that point on, replacing the steps that followed.

Restore from a Backup Catalog

If you’ve made a massive blunder, perhaps syncing settings over a large number of photos or removing photos from your catalog, it can be quicker to restore from backups. If your backup is recent, it’s easiest to simply restore the entire backup catalog, however if you just want to restore metadata and edits for specific photos, it is possible to restore only part of the backup catalog… more on that next week.

The post Oooops, how do I undo? appeared first on The Lightroom Queen.

Where Will You Be….

…when the world’s best teachers take the stage in Las Vegas next month, on the 19th – 21st, at the Photoshop World 2016 Conference?


Why not come and be a part of it all? Don’t just read about it afterward. Experience it yourself.

Save $100 by getting your tickets before this Friday!
The Early Bird special $100-off deal ends this Friday, so get your tickets right now…then:

(1) Get your special hotel room discount for conference attendees
(2) Grab your airfare (we have a discount airfare finder)
(3) Start booking some show reservations, and making dinner plans
(4) Pack your bags, ’cause we’re going to Vegas, baby!



P.S. Need help convincing your boss you need to be there? We’ve written a “letter to your boss” for you, and it’s awesome — just copy and paste it into a letter, than do #1’s one thru four above. Here’s the link. See you there!

The post Where Will You Be…. appeared first on Scott Kelby's Photoshop Insider.

The cat walked over my keyboard and now Lightroom…

Whether it’s the cat walking over the keyboard, the toddler pressing random keys, or simply the slip of a finger, the result can be part of Lightroom’s interface going missing. These are the most frequent mishaps:


The minimize/maximize/close buttons are gone!

If the window buttons at the top of the screen are missing, and you can no longer move the Lightroom window around, you’re in one of the full screen modes. Press Ctrl-Alt-F (Windows) / Cmd-Opt-F (Mac), or to go Window menu > Screen Mode > Normal.

Lightroom window buttons


Everything’s gone black!

If everything goes black apart from the photos, you’ve hit the L key and enabled Lights Out mode. Press the L key once or twice until everything reappears.

If there’s only one large photo filling the screen, you’re likely in Full Screen view. Press F or Escape to cancel.

Lightroom black lights out


The Done button is missing

If the toolbar under the photo, which contains the view mode buttons and sort order in the Library module, and the Done button in the Develop module (among other things) goes missing, then you’ve accidentally pressed the T key. Press it again to make the toolbar reappear.

Lightroom missing toolbar


My Filters are missing

If the filters at the top of the Grid view are missing, you’ve pressed the \ key. Press it again!

Lightroom filter bar


My panel is missing!

If a side panel goes missing, right-click on one of the other panel headers and check the panel name again, or go to Window menu > Panels and select the name of the missing panel.

Lightroom missing panel


There’s writing in the corner of my photo!

If the Info overlay is showing in the top left corner of the photo, press the I key once or twice to hide it.

Lightroom info overlay


There are red and blue marks all over my photo!

If there are red or blue patches on photos in the Develop module, you’ve turned on the clipping warnings. Press the J key to disable them.

Lightroom clipping warnings red blue


My local adjustment pins are missing!

If you have the adjustment brush, graduated/radial filter or spot removal tool selected, and your existing adjustments aren’t displaying their pins, you’ve press the H key to hide them. Press it again to show them, or select Always or Auto in the Show Edit Pins pop-up in the toolbar.

Lightroom missing pins


My photo’s gone red

If you’re in a local adjustment tool (graduated filter, radial filter or adjustment brush) and the picture goes red, green, white or black, you’ve pressed the O key. Press the O key again to disable the mask overlay or toggle the checkbox in the toolbar.

Lightroom red mask


These are the most frequent issues, because they’re all caused by a single keypress or the accidental click of a mouse, but if you have another issue you can’t figure out, you’re welcome to post a description and screenshot on the forum at

The post The cat walked over my keyboard and now Lightroom… appeared first on The Lightroom Queen.

Using Lightroom Mobile Presets to post on Instagram

There is a fantastically simple trick to using Cuba Gallery Presets in Lightroom Mobile.
Here are a few simple steps:

1. Create a collection of images with your favourite presets applied in the standard desktop version of Lightroom.
2. Using Adobe Creative Cloud sync images and collections between the desktop and mobile versions. 
3. Once you’ve synced up the images from your desktop you can copy and paste image settings onto new images
4. Now you can start posting on Instagram from your phone using Lightroom.


How do I change or create keyboard shortcuts?

If you’re using the English version of Lightroom with another language keyboard, some of the keyboard shortcuts might not work.

Mac only

On a Mac, the easiest way to change a keyboard shortcut is to use the operating system keyboard preferences.

  1. In Lightroom, make a note of the menu command, being careful to note any punctuation too.
  2. Go to Applications > System Preferences.
  3. Open the Keyboard preferences and select the Shortcuts tab.
  4. Select App Shortcuts and click the + button.
  5. Select Lightroom in the Application pop-up. If it doesn’t show up, scroll down to the bottom, select Other and navigate to Applications > Adobe Lightroom > Adobe
  6. In the Menu Title field, type the menu command, for example, Build Standard-Sized Previews. You must type the command exactly as it appears in the menu, including ellipses (such as Synchronize Folder…) and any other punctuation. To type an ellipsis, use three periods without spaces.
    If you run into problems, you can enter the full menu path with a hyphen and right arrow to divide each menu, for example, Library->Previews->Build Standard-Sized Previews.
  7. Click the Keyboard Shortcut field and tap your keyboard shortcut, holding down Cmd, Opt and/or Shift as needed.
  8. Click Add.
  9. Repeat steps 4-8 for any additional shortcuts.
  10. Quit and restart Lightroom.

Windows or Mac

If you’re on Windows, there isn’t a user interface for changing shortcuts, but it’s possible to edit Lightroom’s TranslatedStrings file. This file is designed for language localizations, but can be edited to change various user interface elements including keyboard shortcuts. This isn’t officially supported by Adobe, but works reliably. If you run into problems, you can simply delete the file (or restore a backup), so it’s relatively risk-free.

  1. Quit Lightroom.
  2. Navigate to:
    • Windows—C: \ Program Files \ Adobe \ Adobe Lightroom\ Resources \ en \
    • Mac—Macintosh HD / Applications / Adobe Lightroom / Adobe Right-click on the app and select Show Package Contents, then navigate to / Contents / Resources / en.lproj /
  3. Create a plain text file in that folder and name it TranslatedStrings_Lr_en_US.txt. Use a plain text editor such as Notepad on Windows or TextWrangler on Mac (free on the Mac App Store), rather than a word processor like Word. (This was previously called TranslatedStrings.txt in Lightroom CC 2015.7/6.7 and earlier.)
  4. In another text editor window, open the TranslatedStrings file for another language, for example, TranslatedStrings_Lr_es_ES.txt from the es or es.lproj folder.
  5. The file is long and includes translations as well as shortcuts, so you’ll probably need to use your text editor’s search function to find the shortcut that you need to change.
  6. Copy your chosen line into the TranslatedStrings_Lr_en_US.txt and edit the shortcut after the = sign. For example, to change the Decrease Rating shortcut from a to ; you’d find the line that says “$$$/LibraryMenus/MenuShortcut/DecreaseRating=a” and change it to “$$$/LibraryMenus/MenuShortcut/DecreaseRating=;”.
  7. Save the file, and keep a copy somewhere else too, as it may be replaced when you update Lightroom.
  8. Restart Lightroom. If it doesn’t seem to work, check for curly quotes (“ ”) and replace them with straight quotes (” “), and ensure there are no blank lines at the end of the file.

If you’re using Lightroom in another language, the principle is exactly the same, but the TranslatedStrings file will already be in your language’s project folder (e.g. the ‘fr’ or ‘fr.lproj’ for French), and you’ll need to edit it, rather than creating a new file. If you’re editing an existing file, obviously back it up first!

The post How do I change or create keyboard shortcuts? appeared first on The Lightroom Queen.

Happy Independence Day, Y’all!


Howdy Lightroom Lovers across the land, and Happy 4th of July to ya!

Our offices are closed today as our nation celebrates our Independence from England (some 240 or so years ago), but what’s most important is…it’s a day off from work! Whoo Hoo! 🙂

If you’re here in the US, and you’re going to be shooting the traditional fireworks displays that are held in most cities across the country, I did a post on how to shoot fireworks for CocaCola’s blog.

Here’s the link to the basics (it’s easy).

Then, if you want to take it up a notch with some more advanced techniques, (but honestly, the overall technique is pretty simple, even with this extra stuff added), head over to my blog for four more tips, including a Lightroom one as well! 🙂

Here’s the link to the more advanced stuff over on my blog (still easy).

Hope you have a safe, happy, and healthy fourth and we’ll see ya back here tomorrow. 🙂



The post Happy Independence Day, Y’all! appeared first on Lightroom Killer Tips.

Should I use flat or hierarchical keywords?

In the last post, we were talking about the kind of keywords to add to your photos, but this week, let’s talk about the pros and cons of flat vs. hierarchical keyword lists.

On the left, we have a single long flat list of keywords, and on the right, a hierarchy of keywords nested inside other keywords. So which should you choose?


There are a number of factors that might influence your decision. They include:

  • Simplicity – Adding new keywords to a hierarchy requires a little more forethought and logic, whereas adding random keywords to a flat list can be done on-the-fly.
  • Universally Understood – Flat keywords are understood by most photographic software. If you create a hierarchy in Lightroom, it writes out the keywords as both flat and hierarchical, so if you move to other software, your keywords will still go along for the ride, but probably as a flat list.
  • Editing in Other Programs – In addition to moving to other software in the future, you can also run into issues with keyword hierarchies when exporting photos to edit in other software and then adding them back into the catalog. If some keywords are set to “Don’t Export” (often used for parent keywords like who, what, when), when the photos come back into Lightroom’s catalog, their keywords will be listed as new root level keywords.
  • Scrolling – If you start adding a lot of keywords to your photos, a flat keyword list can become very long very quickly. If you’re on Windows, you may even run into a bug/limitation, which prevents the Keyword List showing more than around 1600 keywords at one time. A keyword hierarchy allows you to collapse the list, so you’re seeing fewer keywords at any time.
  • Automatic Entry – One of the major advantages to a hierarchy of keywords is that parent keywords are automatically added to the photos. For example, if I tagged a photo with “my house”, the parent keywords “Southampton, Hampshire, England, UK, Europe” would automatically be added to the photo too. This can save a lot of time.
  • Time Spent Reorganizing – If you don’t start out with a clear idea of how you’ll organise your keyword hierarchy, you can spend a lot of time organizing and reorganizing the keywords into a list you like.
  • Multiple Catalogs – If you use more than one catalog (and we considered the pros and cons in this earlier post), and you reorganize a hierarchical keyword list in one catalog, you’ll end up with a massive mess and duplicate keywords when you try to merge that back into another catalog. This can even apply to travel catalogs.

Your final decision will probably depend on how many keywords you think you’re going to add. If you’re shooting for stock photography, a hierarchy is the obvious choice. If you’re shooting for your own use, a flat list may be a simpler choice.

There is, of course, a compromise. You could have a very simple hierarchy, with a few parent keywords and all of the other keywords nested directly inside, for example, your parent keywords might be who, what, where, when, why, how. These can also act as a prompt, to remind you to add at least one keyword for each. You can even create a smart collection to show photos that don’t have at least one keyword under each heading.

If you decide on a hierarchical keyword list, draft your list in a text editor or spreadsheet, or even on a piece of paper. By doing so, you’ll save yourself a lot of time rearranging your keyword list later. One more tip… when adding People keywords, don’t try to create a family tree. Since most of us have more than one parent, it gets messy fast!

In the next post, we’ll start on the practicalities – how to create keywords, apply them to your photos and most importantly, how to use them to find the photos again later.

The post Should I use flat or hierarchical keywords? appeared first on The Lightroom Queen.

How do I restore some of the photos from my backup catalog?

Last week, we discussed the options for fixing mistakes using Undo, History and restoring an entire backup catalog.

But what if you only want to restore part of the backup catalog? Perhaps you accidentally synchronized Develop settings across a folder of photos, or you accidentally removed specific photos from your catalog. If you’ve worked on other photos since the backup was created, you probably won’t want to restore the entire backup catalog, as you’d lose the other work you’ve done. Instead, you can restore just the settings for specific photos.

  1. Find your most recent backup in your Backups folder. The backups are stored in dated subfolders, with the zip file named to match your catalog name, to make them easy to identify. (If you’re using Lightroom 5 or earlier, the catalog won’t be zipped.)
  2. Double-click on the zip file to decompress it. The *.lrcat file appears next to the zip file.
    Lightroom backup catalog in Finder unzipped
  3. Move the backup *.lrcat file to a temporary location, such as the Desktop. (If you’re using Lightroom 5 or earlier, copy rather than move.)
  4. Double-click on the *.lrcat file to open it into Lightroom.
  5. Find the photos you’d like to transfer to your normal working catalog. Double check that they’re not marked as missing, and if they are, fix the broken links. (If the backup catalog is quite old, you may have moved some of the files).
  6. Select the photos and go to File menu > Export as Catalog. Select a temporary location, such as the Desktop, and give the exported catalog a name such as “Transfer.lrcat”. Check Export selected photos only and leave the other checkboxes unchecked.
    Lightroom Export as Catalog dialog
  7. Go to File menu > Open Recent and open your normal working catalog.
  8. Go to File menu > Import from Another Catalog and navigate to the Transfer.lrcat catalog file you created in step 6.
  9. At the top of the Import from Catalog dialog, check the All Folders checkbox.
  10. The availability of the other options in the dialog depends on your reason for restoring the data from the backup catalog. (For a deep dive into the Import from Catalog dialog, see the Multi-Computer chapter starting on page 481 in my Lightroom CC/6 book.)
    These are the most likely options:

    • If you’re restoring photos you accidentally removed from the catalog, select Add new photos to catalog without moving in the New Photos section.
    • If you’re restoring metadata for photos that still exist in the catalog, select Metadata and develop settings only from the Replace pop-up in the Changed Existing Photos section. (To keep the current settings as a virtual copy, check the checkbox below too.)
  11. Press Import to transfer the metadata into your working catalog.
  12. Once you’ve confirmed that the settings have transferred, delete the backup and exported catalog from the Desktop.

Before we finish this topic, we should just mention one limitation. When importing from other catalogs, Lightroom imports all of the data about your chosen photo. For example, you can’t import just the Develop settings for a photo without also importing its keywords. There is, however, a workaround. If you check the Preserve old settings as a virtual copy checkbox, your current settings are retained as a virtual copy. You can then use John Beardsworth’s Syncomatic plug-in to sync specific metadata (e.g. keywords) from the virtual copies to the updated masters.

The post How do I restore some of the photos from my backup catalog? appeared first on The Lightroom Queen.

Travel Photography – Lightroom Before & After

Lightroom gadgets – LrControl

The new kid on the block, LrControl from Peltmade, is looking like a very promising and economical option for midi controllers on both Windows and Mac.



The LrControl functions are almost entirely focused on the Develop module, apart from star ratings and flags. At the time of writing, LrControl can affect about 160 different Lightroom sliders/buttons, depending on the number of buttons, dials (encoders) and sliders (faders) on your midi controller.

If you had a fader for every slider in the Develop module, you’d need a controller that took up your entire desk, and you’d need very long arms. Hardly ideal! To solve this issue, midi controllers use the concept of layers – essentially switching sets of controls, like a modifier key. When you press one button, the faders affect the Basic sliders. Press another button, and the faders change the Effects panel sliders (and LrControl very helpfully opens the applicable panel too, so you can see what you’re doing). This means a huge number of controls can be fitted into a small space on your desk.

Behringer BCF2000Most midi controllers are not motorized. This means that the fader position doesn’t match the slider position when you switch photos. If you moved the Exposure fader right to the bottom on the previous photo, when you start to move it on the next photo, Lightroom’s Exposure slider jumps to -5 and the picture goes dark. This can be quite disconcerting, and is hopeless if you’re trying to tweak photos that you’ve already edited. This can be avoided by using devices such as the Behringer XTouch Mini, with its endless encoders (dials), or the Behringer BCF2000 with its motorized faders that automatically move to match the Lightroom settings for the selected photo.

nanoKONTROL2On devices which don’t have motorized faders, such as the nanoKONTROL2, you can use a button to enable “pickup mode”. This ignores your fader movement until you reach Lightroom’s current slider value. It feels quite odd to move the slider in the wrong direction before you can move it in the right direction. For example, if the fader is at the bottom, and you want to darken the photo, you have to move it upwards, past the current setting (e.g. half way), and then down to your desired brightness. If you have an inexpensive and small midi controller, this is the compromise you make.

There are still some missing functions that I consider essential – most notably, the Previous and Sync buttons. It’s also missing a few checkbox toggles, such as Constrain Crop, so you may still need to reach for the mouse occasionally. LrControl can’t apply Develop presets yet either, which may be an issue for heavy preset users. These omissions are purely a sign of its early stage of development, and having talked to the developer, I’m sure they’ll be added in due course.



Because LrControl uses a Lightroom plug-in, it only works with Lightroom. That said, other software is available, which would allow you to use the same midi controller in other programs.

I’ve been testing the 1.4 release, due for release later this week, which adds customization. This means you can change the behavior of various sliders and dials to suit your own needs, which will be a welcome addition.

Because LrControl uses a separate device, rather than your standard keyboard, it doesn’t override any of Lightroom’s normal keyboard shortcuts. This is particularly useful where specific commands, such as the Previous button, aren’t currently available on the midi controller.

LrControl uses a Lightroom plug-in, so it’s quite responsive. There’s a slight lag initially, just to give Lightroom time to fully load the photo. If you’re looking for blazing speed on a high volume of photos, midi controllers aren’t the tool for the job, in my opinion, as there’s too much hand movement involved. They’re better suited to slower, more thoughtful editing, allowing you to focus entirely on the photo without having to look at the sliders.


Learning Curve

The setup process is very simple, with a standard installer that puts the plug-in in the correct location. If the midi controller is at its factory defaults, there’s no additional setup to do. If you purchase a second hand midi controller, you may need to figure out how to reset it.

Personally, I found the layout of the Behringer BCF2000 quicker to learn than the nanoKONTROL. The only oddity is the Temperature control, which is split across 2 dials because the slider range is so wide. The first dial makes large adjustments, and the second makes finer adjustments.

There are a couple of places where the default fader order doesn’t match the Lightroom slider order (for example, the Tone Curve faders), which makes it difficult to remember which is which, but with the new customization feature, you’ll be able to switch them round quite easily.


Size & Ergonomics

The size of midi controllers varies. By way of comparison, here’s the  Behringer BCF2000 (left), the Apple keyboard (top right, for comparison), the nanoKONTROL2 (center right), and the Behringer X-Touch Mini (bottom right, aka the PFixer MiniMal).

Lightroom midi controllers

As we said in the PFixer review, midi controllers aren’t built for this type of use, so the ergonomics aren’t perfect.

The Behringer BCF2000 is huge, at approximately 13″ x 11.8″ x 4″ (33cm x 30cm x 10cm), so you’ll need plenty desk space to spare. The sliders and dials move easily, and if you’re going for a midi controller, the motorized faders are worth having. Even with its huge size, this would be my choice of midi controller. Because of its height, it would be more comfortable to use on a lower desk or on a lap tray. A large under-desk pull out keyboard drawer would be ideal if it had enough clearance, saving desk space and putting the device at a more comfortable height.

At the other end of the scale, the nanoKONTROL2 is just 12.80″ x 3.27″ x 1.18″ (32.5cm x 8.3cm x 3cm). The encoders (dials) and faders (sliders) are slightly stiffer to move and the shorter length of the faders makes it more difficult to fine tune the slider position. However, it’s very inexpensive, has a huge number of controls, and if you’re interested in using a midi controller with Lightroom, it’s a good way of dipping your toe in the water.


OS & Lightroom Compatibility

LrControl only works with the current Lightroom version – Lightroom CC or Lightroom 6. Since it uses Adobe’s Lightroom SDK, it should work in future versions of Lightroom too.

It works with all of the operating systems that Lightroom supports. All of the supported controllers are USB compliant, so no drivers are needed. This means you don’t need to worry about it breaking when you upgrade your operating system.


Instructions & Support

The installation process is simple, using a standard installer, and there are demo videos on Peltmade’s Vimeo channel, showing how the controls work with the most popular controllers.

The tables of controls for each midi controller look quite complicated to start with, due to the sheer number of controls, but they become easier to understand once you get the hang of layers (sets of settings). It’s worth printing the PDF so you can refer to it frequently until the controls become second nature.

It’s clearly early days for LrControl, and the website and software are still under development, but I’ve found Boudewijn to be very responsive to suggestions and feedback.


Cost & Trial Versions

The LrControl plug-in costs just $49*

You’ll also need a midi controller. The two I’ve tested are:

  • nanoKONTROL2 costs around $48/£34.00 * from Amazon.
  • Behringer BCF2000 costs around $220/£269*

There is a trial version of the software which works for the first 10 minutes every time you open Lightroom. You’ll need a controller, of course, but many online stores accept returns if you decide it isn’t for you.

* Prices correct at the time of writing.

* Full disclosure – Boudewijn loaned me a Korg nanoKONTROL2 and Behringer BCF2000 for testing. I receive no compensation for this review.

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How do I create and manage collections?

In the “Why use collections to organize photos?” post, we learned why you might want to use collections to group photos. Now let’s learn how…

How to create a collection

To create a collection, scroll down to the Collections panel, which you’ll find in the left panel group in all modules, click the + button at the top and select Create Collection.

Name the collection (leave the checkboxes unchecked for now) and click Create, and your new collection appears in the Collections panel. When you want to view a different collection of photos, just click on its name.

From the Grid view, select your chosen photos and drag them from the preview area onto the collection. Don’t forget to grab the photos by their thumbnails, not the border surrounding them. If you don’t like dragging, right-click on the collection and select Add Selected Photos to this Collection from the context-sensitive menu instead.

Removing photos from a collection is as simple as hitting the Delete key. When you’re viewing a collection, Delete only removes the photo from the collection, rather than from the catalog or hard drive.

There are a few more collection tips and tricks on pages 115-120 in my Lightroom CC/6 book.

How do I organize my collections into sets?

As your list of collections grows, it can become harder to find the right one. Collection sets allow you to build a hierarchy of collections, just like you would with folders.

To create a Collection Set, press the + button on the Collections panel and select New Collection Set. Name it, and then drag existing collections onto the set to group them. When you’re creating new collections, you can select which set to put them in using the pop-up in the New Collection dialog.

The one downside is collection sets don’t sync to the cloud. The collections show as a flat collections list in Lightroom mobile, which can become rather long if you’re syncing a large number of collections. You can start the names of similar collections with a word such as Vacation or Genre, which will group them together on mobile as well as in Lightroom on the desktop.

Do you need to create additional collections for your best photos of each grouping? No, that would just make the list even longer! You can use flags, star ratings and filters instead. More on that in the next post.

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How do I send a bug report or feature request to Adobe?

As carefully as Adobe and prerelease testers check each release, Lightroom is now an incredibly complex program and it’s inevitable that bugs will slip through the net. As a result, you’ve likely already found bugs in Lightroom – but who do you tell? How can you be sure it’s really a bug? And why don’t they all get fixed?

The Feedback Forum

Most software companies offer a bug report form that’s akin to a black hole. You submit the bug report and that’s the last you hear of it. You have no idea whether anyone else is suffering the same issue, whether there’s a workaround, or whether it’s been fixed.

Adobe has taken a different course with the Photoshop family of products, which includes Lightroom and Lightroom mobile. Some years ago, the Digital Imaging team introduced the Feedback Forum.

At first glance, it looks like yet another Lightroom forum, but this one’s different:

  • It’s a direct line to the engineering teams. Although Adobe staff can’t reply to every single thread, they do read everything, and often you’ll see the engineers personally replying to threads.
  • If Adobe can’t replicate the issue, they can communicate with you to get additional information. You’ll note some users have additional titles:
    • Official Rep, Principle Computer Scientist, Employee and other similar titles are Adobe staff, whether they work in the support, development or quality engineering departments.
    • Champions are volunteers who have been recognized by Adobe as being helpful forum members with excellent product knowledge. They assist staff in testing reported bugs and requesting additional information necessary to reproduce issues.
  • When lots of users are reporting the same issue, spotting the commonalities can be the key to tracking down the cause of the problem.
  • Because it’s public, you can check to see whether someone else has already reported the bug you think you’ve found – and often there are workarounds posted in the same thread.
  • The forum software allows users to report bugs and request new features – but more importantly, it also allows users to vote on the bugs/features are that most important to them. Does this actually matter? Yes. For example, it was your feedback on the updated Import dialog in 6.2 that reversed Adobe’s decision. Some of the most popular feature requests, such as face recognition and HDR/Panorama merge were also implemented by popular demand. Your votes do count.

How do I report a bug or request a feature?

  1. Go to the Feedback Site.
  2. In the top right corner, select Sign In.
  3. Click Photoshop Family and sign in with your Adobe ID (or you can use a Facebook or Google ID if you prefer).
    big-signin2 bug-signin3
  4. In the Find or Start a Conversation field, type a few words that describe your problem (as you would in a Google search, for example “Lightroom GPS Data”) and hit Enter.
  5. The forum searches existing reports and shows you threads that may be the same issue.
  6. If your issue matches one of the search results, read the thread to look for workarounds, click the Me Too button to vote for the issue, and add any additional comments using the reply field. You’ll automatically be subscribed to threads you’ve created or commented on. This email subscription can be controlled using the Follow/Unfollow button in the top right corner.
  7. If your issue isn’t shown in the search results, click the Continue Creating Conversation button at the bottom of the page.
  8. Update the Title to a short phrase that describes your issue, such as “Lightroom: GPS data format is inaccurate”.
  9. Select the Conversation Type – “Problem” for a bug report, or “Idea” for a feature request. (Don’t worry if Adobe later changes this. Something you call a bug might be considered an enhancement or feature request if it’s working the way they originally designed it, but this is just a technicality.)
  10. In the Description field, write a longer description of the problem you’re having, and don’t forget to include your system specs. We’ll come back to tips on writing great bug reports and feature requests in a moment.
  11. In the Related Categories section, check either Lightroom for mobile or Photoshop Lightroom. This ensures that the report is seen by the right team.
  12. At the top, select Preview to check the information before posting.
  13. Finally, click Post.

How do I write a great bug report?

The more specific the information you provide in a bug report, the better the chances of the engineers being able to reproduce and fix your bug, so here’s a quick checklist.

  • Do a search to see if your idea has already been submitted and add your vote/comments to existing topics before creating a new one.
  • Pick a descriptive title (e.g., “Lightroom CC 2015.7: Badge numbers in Grid view not visible on Sierra” is much better than “Really bad Lightroom bug!!!!”).
  • Create a separate thread for each bug instead of a single laundry list thread, otherwise your bug may get lost.
  • Follow a standard bug report checklist:
    • Description – write a brief description of the problem you’re seeing.
    • Steps to Reproduce – list the exact steps to reproduce the issue. If Adobe can’t reproduce it, it probably won’t get fixed.
    • Expected Result – write a brief description of what you expected to happen.
    • Actual Result – write a brief description of the incorrect result you’re seeing.
    • Workarounds – note any workarounds you’ve discovered, just in case anyone else is having the same problem.
    • System Specs – list your system specs including the exact Lightroom version, your operating system version and any other information that might be related, such as your graphics card and driver version. The easiest way to do this is to go to Help menu > System Info in Lightroom and copy/paste the contents.
    • Screenshots – if you can illustrate the problem with screenshots, that often makes it much easier to reproduce.

How do I write a great feature request?

There are some tricks that add weight to your feature request:

  • Do a search to see if your idea has already been submitted and add your vote/comments to existing topics before creating a new one.
  • Pick a descriptive title (e.g., “Lightroom: Mark a photo as final version” is much better than “My great Lightroom idea”).
  • Create separate threads for each request instead of a single laundry list thread, otherwise people can’t vote on your idea.
  • Imagine you’re trying to sell your idea to the team, so make the description clear and concise.
  • Describe WHY you want the feature you’re requesting – the problem you’re currently hitting, and how this new feature would solve that problem. The team need to understand how your idea fits in, as they may come up with an even better way of solving your problem.
  • Don’t be offended if someone suggests a workaround or plug-in to solve your problem, at least temporarily, or if someone asks additional questions to fully understand your request.

Why hasn’t my bug been fixed?

It can be discouraging if your bug doesn’t get fixed, or your feature request doesn’t get implemented.

Does this mean that Adobe isn’t listening? No. All of the suggestions and reports are weighed up, and as with everything in life, they have to be prioritized. One thing I’ve learned through many years of beta testing is that bugs and feature requests are rarely as simple as they sound to us as users. Fixing that “tiny irritating bug” may create another 10 much more serious bugs, and that “easy feature request” can have far reaching effects.

So should we give up reporting bugs and requesting new features? No. A huge number of bugs do get fixed in every release and new features are also being added. Your feedback does count.

The post How do I send a bug report or feature request to Adobe? appeared first on The Lightroom Queen.

Lightroom Performance – Workflow Tweaks

workflowBesides optimizing your computer and Lightroom settings, you can also save yourself a lot of frustration by thinking ahead and allowing your computer to do many of its processor-intensive activities at a time when you’re not using the computer.


Build previews overnight

In the previous post, we learned about the different kinds of previews and caches that can be used to speed up Lightroom. You’re going to need rendered previews, but you don’t have to sit there waiting for them! Decide which size rendered previews you’ll need, then set the standard sized or 1:1 previews building overnight, or at least while you go and make a drink. The same goes for smart previews, if you want to use them to speed up the Develop module. While Lightroom’s rendering previews, it’s using a lot of the computer’s processing power, so you’re better off doing something else while it works.


Apply presets before rendering previews

While we’re on the subject of previews, think about Develop settings you apply to all or most of your photos. There’s no point rendering the standard or 1:1 previews and THEN applying a preset, because the previews will need to be updated again. Apply your presets or sync your most-frequently used settings first, and then build your previews to save wasted effort.


Pause background tasks

Lightroom runs a series of background tasks, including Sync, Face Recognition and Reverse Geocoding. These use additional processing power, especially for Sync and Face Recognition, so if you’re struggling for speed, it can be useful to pause these tasks while you’re working in Lightroom. To do so, click on the Identity Plate in the top left corner and press the Pause buttons in the Activity Center. Don’t forget to start them again when you’ve finished.


Use optimum slider order

In the Develop module, regardless of the order in which you move the sliders, the end result is always the same (with the exception of spot healing which can be affected slightly by lens corrections and also by overlapping spots). There is, however, a slight performance advantage to using the tools in the following order:

  1. Tonal Adjustments (e.g. Basic panel, etc.) can be done at any stage, but are often done first
  2. Spot Healing
  3. Lens Corrections (Profile, Manual Transform sliders, Upright, etc.)
  4. Local Corrections (Adjustment Brush, Graduated Filter, Radial Filter)
  5. Detail Corrections (Noise Reduction, Sharpening)

If you apply some of these settings  (e.g. the lens profile or noise reduction) on import using a preset or default settings, but you’re struggling for speed, you can temporarily disable the panel using the panel switch on the left, and then reenable it when you’re finished.


Clear history

If the History panel becomes extremely long, particularly with local brush adjustments or spot healing, it can slow down Lightroom’s performance. It also inflates the size of the catalog considerably. You can clear the History for individual photos by clicking the X button on the panel, or you can clear the History for a large number of photos by selecting them and navigating to Develop menu > Clear History.

Clearing the History does not remove your current settings. It only clears the list of the slider movements/adjustments you made to get to the current state. Even if you clear the History, your current settings remain, and if you want to change them, you simply move the sliders.


Use pixel editor for intensive local edits

In the first post of this series, we learned the difference between non-destructive parametric editing (Lightroom) and pixel based editing (Photoshop). Extensive local adjustments, such as detailed adjustment brush masks or large/numerous spot heals, are better suited to Photoshop. While it may be possible to do them in Lightroom, they won’t be fast. It’s also worth noting that the Auto Mask setting in the adjustment brush has a significant impact on performance too.


Close extra panels

If you’re really struggling for speed, you can also help by minimizing the work Lightroom has to do.

This includes closing panels such as the Histogram panel, the Navigator panel, the Develop Detail panel 1:1 preview, the Keywording & Keyword List panels, the Metadata panel and the Filmstrip. Closing the Collections panel and then restarting Lightroom also saves having to count the smart collection contents, which can slow down metadata entry on large catalogs.

When you’re moving photos to a new folder, start the move and then switch to an empty folder or collection, such as the Quick Collection, so that Lightroom’s not having to constantly redraw the Grid view while it’s working. You can also turn off the thumbnail badges in View menu > View Options.


Leave exports for when not using computer

Finally, leave large exports for times when you’re not using the computer. It’s a processor-intensive task that can slow down the fastest of computers, due to the complex calculations involved.


Next week, the final post in this series… a summary of where to look when you’re suffering speed issues in specific areas of the program.

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Lightroom Performance – General System Maintenance

Lightroom can’t perform well if the operating system is struggling. While not specific to Lightroom, it’s worth running regular computer maintenance and optimizing other software running on your computer. This includes operating system and driver updates, keeping hard drives in good condition, and minimizing the number of other programs running in the background.


OS updates

updatecomputer2Updates to the Windows or Mac OS X operating systems not only fix bugs and add security fixes, but also improve its performance and compatibility with applications. Windows service packs and other updates are available from the Microsoft Windows Update website and Mac OS X updates are downloaded from the App Store.


Driver updates

Windows Update includes some drivers, however these are rarely the latest, so you’ll need to visit the component manufacturer’s website, or for laptops, the laptop manufacturer’s website to get the latest drivers. It’s important to keep drivers up to date, especially for the graphics card and input devices such as Wacom tablets and other mice, as older drivers can cause crashes as well as performance issues.

Most Mac OS X driver updates are downloaded from the App Store, but you’ll need to check manufacturer’s websites for third-party hardware drivers such as Wacom tablets.


Care of Hard Drives

In the previous post, we said that it’s important to keep enough space available on your hard drives, especially for the boot drive and the drive containing your catalog. Both the operating system and Lightroom need room to work.

You can clear space on your hard drive by emptying the Recycle Bin/Trash, deleting files (be careful!) or moving them to another drive. You can also clear out temporary files and caches to help to free up additional space. Both operating systems include tools to make this easier: Windows 7, 8.1Windows 10 and Mac.

If you’re working with spinning drives on Windows (not SSD’s), you also need to defragment/optimize the hard drive from time to time. This moves the data back into contiguous blocks, making it faster to read/write. Microsoft provide instructions for Windows 7, 8.1 & 10.

The Mac operating system automatically defragments small files, so it’s not necessary unless you’re working with large numbers of huge files (e.g. 1GB videos).


Other system tasks and software

Other programs running in the background also reduce the resources available to Lightroom. To make these resources available to Lightroom, quit other open applications, including those running in the system tray (Windows) / menubar (Mac), and prevent unnecessary programs running on startup. To stop apps opening on startup, try these instructions for Windows and Mac.

Anti-virus/security software running real-time scans also use your computer’s resources, so it may be useful to pause the scan while you’re working in Lightroom, and exclude specific files such as the catalog and previews.

The same goes for other software that runs automated tasks in the background, such as backup software or cloud sync such as Dropbox. If you’re struggling with performance issues, temporarily pausing these tasks can help.


Reboot occasionally

Finally, it’s worth rebooting from time to time… yes, even on a Mac!


Next week, some of Lightroom’s settings and preferences can be optimized for speed…

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Why use collections to organize photos?

In previous posts, we’ve learned how store photos and videos in folders on your hard drive, but now let’s start organizing them into virtual collections based on their content.

Collections are designed to group photos and videos for a specific purpose. Unlike folders, a single photo can be in multiple different collections without taking up extra space on your hard drive, and these grouped photos can come from any number of different folders on the hard drive.

Collections aren’t limited to containing photos and videos—they store your chosen sort order, and they can also remember your filtering (depending on a preference setting). Special types of collections also store the print/book/slideshow/web settings.

When would you use collections?

So when might you want to create a collection?

  • You prefer photos grouped by topic or genre. Perhaps you regularly view all of the photos of your grandchildren, or you want to group the photos from your vacations.
  • You’re gathering your best photos for your portfolio.
  • You’re working on a creative photo project over a long period of time.
  • You want to share a collection of photos with friends and family using Lightroom Web.
  • You want to sync photos to your phone or tablet.
  • You’re gathering photos for output – perhaps as prints, books, slideshows or web galleries.

What’s the downside?

Collections are virtual, so they don’t exist outside of Lightroom. This means they can’t be viewed in other software, and they’re not written to XMP metadata stored with the files, so they’re difficult to transfer if you move to alternative asset management software in the future. These aren’t major disadvantages in most cases, but they are worth being aware of.

For this reason, collections are best used as temporary groupings. Keywords remain the best choice for long-term storage, as they can be written back to the files in a standardized format which can be understood by any photographic software. (We’ll come back to keywords in a few week’s time, along with smart collections, but if you want a head start, see pages 140-150 and 190-192 in my Lightroom CC/6 book.)

But what if I have too many collections?

Eventually you’ll end up with a lot of collections and the list can become a little unwieldy. Like folders, you can organise them into a hierarchy of Collection Sets. It’s a little different to a folder hierarchy, because collections can only usually contain photos and videos, whereas collection sets can contain collections or other collection sets but not the photos or videos themselves, but it still allows a degree of organization.

That’s the theory of collections and collection sets… next week, we’ll put it into practice, learning how to create them.

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What kind of keywords should I assign to my photos?

In previous weeks, we’ve discussed the benefits of keeping all of the photos in a single catalog and using Lightroom’s tools to organize them. For the next four posts in the series, we’re exploring keywords. Keyword tags are text metadata used to describe the content of the photo. Unlike collections, keywords can be stored in the metadata of the files and understood by a wide range of software, so your efforts are not wasted, even if you later move to other software.

Image recognition software is already able to identify many subjects, reducing the need for keywords. If you’re a CC subscriber, you can try it today with your own photos using Lightroom Web, or the Excire plug-in adds similar functionality to Lightroom Desktop. However, it’s likely to be some time before software can correctly name your friends and family, or tell the difference between a lesser spotted and great spotted woodpecker, so some keywords are still important.

What kind of keywords would you use to describe your photos?

If you’ve never keyworded photos before, you may be wondering where to start. There are no hard and fast rules for keywording (unless you’re shooting for Stock Photography). Assuming you’re shooting primarily for yourself, the main rule is simple—use keywords that will help you find the photos again later!

For example, they can include:

  • Who is in the photo (people – Face Recognition can also be useful)
  • What is in the photo (other subjects or objects)
  • Where the photo was taken (names of locations)
  • Why the photo was taken (what’s happening)
  • When the photo was taken (sunrise/sunset, season, event)
  • How the photo was taken (HDR, tilt-shift, panoramic)

Before you start applying keywords to photos, think about the kinds of words you would use to search for your photos.

The importance of consistency

While you’re planning the kind of keywords you’ll use, also think about consistency within your keyword list, otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time tidying up your keyword list later. For example:

  • Grouping—as with folders and collections, you can use a hierarchical list of keywords instead of a long flat list. We’ll consider the pros and cons in the next post.
  • Capitalization—stick to lower case for everything except names of people and places.
  • Quantity—either use singular or plural, but avoid mixing them (either have bird, cat and dog or birds, cats and dogs). Where the plural spelling is different, for example, puppy vs. puppies, you can put the other spelling in the Synonyms field so it’s still fully searchable.
  • Verbs—stick to a single form, for example, running, playing, jumping rather than mixing run, jumping, play.
  • Name formats—consider how you’ll handle nicknames or last names for married women. Many use the married name followed by the maiden name (e.g., Mary Married née Maiden), while others choose to put previous names and nicknames in the Synonyms field.

Need some ideas? While controlled vocabularies are overkill for most amateur photographers, they can be a great place to get ideas for your own keywords and list structure. Here’s a list of some popular keyword lists, both free and paid.

In the next post in the series, we’ll consider the advantages and disadvantages of flat and hierarchical keyword lists, and then we’ll put the theory into practice in the following posts.

The post What kind of keywords should I assign to my photos? appeared first on The Lightroom Queen.

New Lightroom Preset System

The brand new Cuba Gallery two step Lightroom processing will revolutionise your color grading. The Color Grading+ and Lightmap+ presets work in tandem to give you a highly flexible and powerful processing tool. The Color Grade+ presets adjust hue and tonal effects. The Lightmap+ presets then shape the image.

The new Color Grade+ presets are available in a variety of classic effects, including Basic Color, Cinematic, Desaturated and Black & White. They include essential fine tuning such as sharpening and noise reduction. All effects are specifically designed to work with the Lightmap+ presets. This combination provides a unique approach to image processing.

Once you've applied the Color Grade+ presets it's then time to craft the lighting and mood of your image. The Lightmap+ presets provide a library of presets that help shape your image by adding depth, light and shade. Images can be shaped in variety of ways allowing photographers a refined fast track approach to image processing.

Click here to buy


Lightroom Catalogs – Top 10 Misunderstandings

confusionLightroom has two primary functions – organizing your photos and editing them. Although its organizational tools are powerful, they’re also the most misunderstood, so over the forthcoming weeks, we’ll discuss the best practices for using catalogs, folders, collections and keywords, and then we’ll discuss how to tidy up your existing catalog, if you wish to do so. First, however, let’s talk about some of the most common catalog-related misunderstandings.

#1 – Your photos are not “in” Lightroom

When you import photos into Lightroom, they’re not really “in” Lightroom. The metadata describing the photos is added to a database (called the catalog) as text records, along with a link to that file on the hard drive. Small JPEG previews are also stored next to the catalog, so you can view the photos when the original files are offline.

Imagine an index of the books in a library. The library catalog tells you a little about the book and which shelf it’s stored on, and maybe even gives you a preview of the cover, but it doesn’t contain the book itself. The Lightroom catalog works in the same way.

We’ll come back to the catalog concept in more detail next week, but for now, remember one thing: don’t delete your original photos thinking that they’re safely stored in Lightroom. They’re not.

#2 – Your photos are not hidden away by Lightroom

The photos are not stored in some magical location, hidden away from your view. They’re just normal image files stored in folders on your hard drive. You choose where they’re stored when you import them. This means you’re not locked into just using Lightroom, but it also means YOU are responsible for looking after the photos. If you move, rename or delete photos outside of Lightroom, you’ll create a mess.nocloud

#3 – Your photos are not “in the cloud” either

Even if you have a Creative Cloud subscription, and you’ve set all of your photos to sync, Lightroom only syncs low resolution previews to the cloud. The original photos are still stored on your computer, and you still need to back them up. You’re still responsible.

#4 – Lightroom’s Catalog Backup does not back up your photos

When you quit Lightroom, it’s probably asked you to back up, and you may have hit ok without reading the rest of the dialog. In doing so, you’d have missed a very important warning: Lightroom’s catalog backup only backs up the catalog. It does not back up your photos.

Lightroom's backup does not back up the photos

You need a solid backup system, and ideally something that’s automated. Copying and pasting files onto another drive when you happen to remember does not constitute a reliable backup system. Neither does RAID. And if you’ve ever tried restoring from backups created using the “Make a Second Copy” option in the Import dialog, you’ll have the grey hairs to prove it.

There’s a multitude of backup software available free of charge. One easy option is Crashplan. Their software allows you to back up to another hard drive free of charge, and if you have a fast internet connection, their online backup is also inexpensive. For the more technically minded user, Vice Versa (Windows) and Chronosync (Mac) allow even more control over your local backups.

#5 – You still need Lightroom’s catalog backup even if you run your own backups

Even if you have your own backup system, you may still need to run Lightroom’s own catalog backups too. Why? There are two main reasons:

1. Many backup systems overwrite the previous backup with the latest one. If your catalog becomes corrupted (relatively rare) or you make a mistake that you don’t spot immediately (incredibly common!), your normal backup system will overwrite your last “good” backup with the corrupted/incorrect catalog. Lightroom’s catalog backup, on the other hand, is versioned, which means that it keeps each of the backups, so you can go back to an earlier version at any time.

2. Backup systems that create versioned backups, for example, Time Machine, may run at a time while Lightroom is open. As a result, the backup can be corrupted. Lightroom’s catalog backup, however, runs when Lightroom quits.

If in doubt, let your backup system back up Lightroom’s own catalog backups.

#6 – Keep the photos in Lightroom even when you’ve finished editing them

If you remove photos from Lightroom when you’ve finished editing them, or only add specific photos in the first place, you’re kind of missing the point of Lightroom. It’s designed to help you search and work with ALL of your photos now and in the future, and it can’t do that if you’ve removed them from the catalog.


Some people remove finished photos because they’re concerned that their catalog will get too big. The largest known catalog is 4.2 MILLION photos, and yes, that’s getting a bit big to handle. But most Lightroom users don’t have 4.2 million photos.

While we’re on the subject, let’s state the obvious. Don’t delete your original photos from the hard drive when you’ve finished editing them. That would be like throwing away the film negatives when you’ve made a print, or throwing away the recipe when you’ve finished making a cake.

Unless you’re completely deleting the photos from your archives, add them all to your Lightroom catalog and leave them there.

#7 – Adding all your photos to Lightroom doesn’t mean using masses of hard drive space

If your photos are already on the hard drive, you don’t have to duplicate them when adding them to your Lightroom catalog. In the Import dialog, you can select Add to leave them in their current location, or Move if you want to rearrange them into a new folder structure.


Once the photos are added to your Lightroom catalog, you still have plenty of options. You can move all of the photos to another hard drive if you start to run out of space, or you can split them over multiple hard drives. Archive hard drives can be disconnected. Even if you split over multiple hard drives, Lightroom can manage all of this in a single catalog, and I’ll explain how in more detail in a few weeks time.

#8 – Sometimes moving photos in Lightroom can be a bad idea

You’ll often hear Lightroom experts (including me) tell you only to rename, move or delete photos inside of Lightroom, because otherwise you’ll break the links. There is one exception. If you’re moving entire folders containing large amounts of data, for example, you’re archiving old photos off to another hard drive, it’s actually quicker and safer to move them in Explorer/Finder and then immediately update Lightroom’s links.

#9 – You don’t have to “Save” when you’ve finished editing

In most conventional photo editors, you must save the changes to each file when you finish editing. Lightroom is different. The database is automatically updated whenever you move a slider or update the metadata. You don’t have to do a thing.

There is a Save Metadata to Files command in the Metadata menu, but this isn’t a conventional save either. It writes the metadata to the header of the file (or a sidecar XMP file for proprietary raw files). We’ll come back to the pros and cons in a future post, but if you want a head start, see pages 343-346 in my LRCC/6 book). Saving the metadata to the files doesn’t touch the image data, so your Lightroom Develop changes still won’t show up in other photo editors. To do that, you have to export the photos, which is like a Save As.

#10 – You don’t have to keep your exported photos

To see your Lightroom edits in other software, or send your edited photo to someone else, you must export the photos out of Lightroom as a JPEG, TIFF or PSD file. This creates a copy of the image with your Develop settings applied, so the original isn’t touched in the process.

You don’t need to keep these copies once they’ve served their purpose. Why not? Because as long as you have the original photos and the records in the catalog, you can export another identical copy when you need it, in exactly the size and format you need.


In the next post in the series, we’ll discuss the concept of a catalog and how it relates to your photos in more detail.

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