Importing Photos in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4: Part 1
Excerpted from The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers by Martin Evening. Copyright © 2012 Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Adobe Press. Martin Evening shows how the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom import procedure provides an adaptable import workflow, one that can be streamlined through the use of Import presets, as well as offering the ability to import files directly from the camera using a tethered shooting setup.
(Click here to see Part 2.) Lightroom is essentially a catalog management program and raw image processor combined into one. It is important to appreciate how Lightroom differs from browser programs such as Adobe Bridge, where you simply point Bridge at a folder to inspect the contents. The browser method is really suited for those times where you need the freedom to search everything that's on your computer. The downside of this approach is that you first have to know where to look in order to find what you are searching for. Plus, you'll be shown all the files that are contained in each folder. If there are also lots of non-image files to sort through this can make image browsing quite tricky. Lightroom is different. With Lightroom you must import your photos first, and in doing so make a conscious decision as to which photos you want to have added to the catalog. As you will come to learn in this chapter, the Lightroom import procedure provides an adaptable import workflow, one that can be streamlined through the use of Import presets, as well as offering the ability to import files directly from the camera using a tethered shooting setup.
The main Import dialog
To import photos into Lightroom, you will need to click on the Import... button in the Library module. The first time you choose to import photos into Lightroom it will do so via the expanded Import dialog shown in Figure 1. As you can see, there are lots of options here, so let me take you through them one by one in the order you should use them. Figure 1: This shows the layout of the advanced import dialog showing all the main panels. At the top we have the import workflow bar. This displays a summary of the current configured import workflow, showing from left to right the import source, the import method, and the destination folder. You mainly use this to select the import method: Copy as DNG, Copy, Move, or Add. Below this you will see, on the left, a Source panel, which is used to select the source volume (or folder) to import from. In the center is the content area. This displays thumbnails of the images that are to be imported and offers options to segment the thumbnail display into different groupings. For example, you can choose to display photos by showing All Photos, show New Photos only, or segment by Destination Folders (how the photos will finally be imported, according to the Destination panel settings). You can use this central section to select all or select individual photos, as well as see Loupe view previews of the files you are about to import. Note In the expanded mode the Import dialog behaves more like a file browser. The browsing experience is slightly more refined though, as Lightroom knows to wait for a folder to be selected in the Source panel before populating the content area with the images that are available to import. Note There can only be one physical copy of each image in any particular folder location. It is possible to import more than one copy of a file to the catalog by disabling the "Don't Import Suspected Duplicates" option, but it is not recommended that you do so. The panels on the right are used to manage the photos as they are imported. So we have the File Handling panel at the top to decide how to render the initial previews, whether to import suspected duplicates, and options for creating secondary backups. The File Renaming panel can be used to apply a file renaming scheme. The Apply During Import panel can be used to apply a Develop preset and/or a metadata template setting to the files as they are imported; plus, you can enter keywords to apply on import. Then we have the Destination panel, which lets you choose the folder the files should be imported to and how they should be organized within that destination folder. At the bottom you'll notice an Import Presets menu. Here you can save Import dialog settings as custom presets. This can make it easy for you to select favorite import settings without having to reconfigure everything in the Import dialog each time you want to import files into Lightroom. If you click on the button circled at the bottom of Figure 1, you can go to the compact view shown in Figure 2 This provides an abbreviated summary of the import settings. This simpler interface is ideal if you have already saved a number of import presets. When working in this mode all you need to do is to select an appropriate import preset. Figure 2: This shows the layout of the compact import dialog mode.
Copy as DNG, Copy, Move, or Add?
Let's look more carefully at the ways in which images can be imported starting with those that are relevant to camera card imports only: The "Copy as DNG" option copies the files from the card and at the same time converts them to the DNG file format. This option offers peace of mind, because the DNG file format is an Adobe-devised format for archiving raw capture files and widely regarded as a more versatile and therefore more appropriate file format for the long-term archival storage of raw camera files. The DNG conversion process also conveniently flags up any files that happen to be corrupted as they are imported. However, converting to DNG can easily double the time it takes to complete an import. The "Copy" option makes a straightforward copy of all the images that are on the memory card and stores them in the designated destination folder or subfolder. Note For the benefit of previous Lightroom 1 and Lightroom 2 users, "Copy Photos as Digital negative (DNG) and add to catalog" or "Convert to DNG" is now simply known as "Copy as DNG." "Copy photos to a new location and add to catalog" is now known as "Copy." "Move photos to a new location and add to catalog" is now called "Move" and the "Add photos to catalog without moving" option is now called "Add". If you intend to import photos from an existing folder of images you can consider using any of the four import options. In these instances, "Copy as DNG" is only useful if the folder of images you are copying from contains unconverted raw images. You can convert non-raw images such as JPEGs to DNG (though this does not actually convert them into raw files). The "Copy" option can again be used to make copies of the files to the chosen destination folder location and add them to the catalog. But remember, you don't always want to end up creating any more duplicate versions of master images than you need to, so "copying" files is mainly used whenever you need to copy files from a camera card or a DVD. If your intention is to import photographs from existing folders on your computer and add them to the Lightroom catalog, the two options you want to focus on are "Move" and "Add." The "Move" option copies files from the selected source folder, copies them to the destination folder, and then deletes the folder and files from the original location. This is a neat solution for importing photos into Lightroom, placing them in the exact folder location you want them to end up in and not ending up with yet more duplicate images. The downside is that copying files still takes time. The "Add" option is the one I suggest you use mostly here. With an "Add" import you are telling Lightroom to "reference" the files where they are located on the computer. When you "Add" files at the import stage it takes a minimal amount of time to complete the import process. You also have to bear in mind that Lightroom does not place any real restrictions as to how or where the images are stored—they can be stored anywhere you like. To summarize, I mainly suggest you use "Copy" for all card imports (and convert your raw files to DNG later) and use "Add" or "Move" for folder imports. Note If you apply lossy compression when converting to DNG you can preserve the full pixel resolution but at a reduced file size. Lossy DNGs are almost like normal DNGs, except the raw data is permanently demosaiced, but kept in a linear form. Note The Metadata panel in the Library module now has a DNG view mode. This allows you to see specific DNG file information, such as whether lossy compression has been applied.
Converting to DNG after import
I always prefer to convert my raw photos to DNG at the end of a photo shoot rather than convert them at the import stage. When I am busy in the studio this can easily save an hour or more of computer processing time, which is important because time (as we all know) is money. You can do this by going to the Library menu and choosing "Convert Photos to DNG" (the Convert Photos to DNG dialog is shown in Figure 3). In the Source Files section you can choose to only convert raw files. Normally you only want to convert raw images to DNG, but with the new lossy compression options it is possible to convert JPEGs to lossy DNG without increasing the file size. You can also choose to delete the original raw files after successfully converting them to DNG, which can help you avoid ending up with duplicate raw versions of your images (see sidebar). The options in the DNG Creation section are the same as those in the Lightroom File Handling DNG Import preferences (except for the lossy compression), so I recommend you read the information on pages to for advice on which options to select here. You can also choose whether to embed the original raw file in the DNG image or not. This option does provide the flexibility of reverting to the original raw file format state, but the downside is that you will end up with DNG files that are at least twice the size of the original. Mostly I would say it is safe to leave this option unchecked: convert everything to DNG and delete the raw originals as you do so. Figure 3: The Convert Photos to DNG dialog. Note that you also now have options to embed fast load data and apply lossy compression when converting photos to DNG. Note Should you keep the original raws? It all depends on whether you feel comfortable discarding the originals and keeping just the DNGs. Some proprietary software such as Canon DPP is able to recognize and process dust spots from the sensor using a method that relies on reading private XMP metadata information that is stored in the proprietary raw file. If you delete the original .CR2 files you won't be able to process the DNG versions in DPP unless you chose to embed the original raw file data (since this will allow you to extract the raw originals). Personally I have no trouble converting everything I shoot to DNG and never bother to embed the original raw data. I do, however, sometimes keep backup copies of the original raw files as an extra insurance policy, but in practice I've never had cause to use these—at least not yet! When files are converted to DNG the conversion process aims to preserve all the proprietary MakerNote information that is contained in the raw original. If the data is there, external, DNG-compatible software should have no problem reading it. However, there are known instances where manufacturers have placed MakerNote data in odd places, such as alongside the embedded JPEG preview (which is discarded during the conversion process). Basically, the DNG format is designed to allow full compatibility between different products, but this in turn is dependent on proper implementation by third parties.
Updating DNG previews for third-party viewing
The DNG file format has been around for several years now and has been widely adopted as a preferred format for archiving raw camera files. One snag though is that the DNG created previews may not always be up-to-date. This is not necessarily a problem if you are using DNG in Bridge or Lightroom, since the previews can easily be rebuilt when transferring DNG files from one Lightroom/Bridge setup to another. However, it is less convenient when working with other DNG-aware programs such as Expression Media, where such programs are unable to rebuild a Camera Raw–generated preview. To get around this problem you can go to the Library module Metadata menu and choose "Update DNG Previews & Metadata." This does two things: it updates the metadata the same way as the Save Metadata to Files command does, and it rebuilds the JPEG previews that are contained within the DNG files (see also the Appendix).
Importing files from a card
Over the next few pages I have shown how to import photos from a camera card using the Import dialog in the compact mode. Tip On a Macintosh, the Lightroom Preferences are located in the Lightroom menu (or you can use the , shortcut). On a PC, they are located in the Edit menu.
- Before you import any photos, go to the Lightroom menu (Mac) or Edit menu (PC) and choose Preferences... In the General section check the "Show Import dialog when a memory card is detected" option. When checked, Lightroom will automatically show the Import Photos dialog every time a memory card is detected.
Importing image 1
- To start importing photos, insert a memory card into the computer so that it mounts on the Desktop. If the "Show Import dialog when a memory card is detected" option is unchecked, you will have to import the photos manually using one of the following manual methods: choose File → Import Photos and Video..., click the Import... button in the Library module, or use the I (Mac) or I (PC) keyboard shortcut.
Importing image 2
- If the Lightroom Preferences are configured as shown in Step 1, Lightroom will automatically open the Import Photos dialog. How the Import Photos dialog is displayed will depend on whether you last used the compact interface (shown above) or had checked the expand dialog button (circled) to reveal the full range of options in the expanded mode view (I used the compact interface here). In this example, the EOS_DIGITAL camera card appeared in the From section. In the workflow section you can choose to Copy as DNG, Copy, Move, or Add. For card imports the choice boils down to Copy as DNG or Copy. I nearly always select "Copy" here.
Importing image 3
- The To section initially points to the computer user's Pictures folder. This is a sensible default, but if you wish, you can select an alternative destination folder.
Importing image 4
- For camera card imports you will want to import your images using folders segmented "By date" or "Into one folder." There is a lot to be said for the "By date" option. All your files are imported and placed in dated folders and this provides a neatly ordered way to manage your camera card imports. However, to make this work effectively you'll need to tag the imported photos with at least one keyword; otherwise, you'll experience difficulties later when tracking down specific photos. Importing photos into one folder (and naming the folder appropriately) will allow you to search for photos by the Folders panel name as well as by keywords.
Importing image 5
- If you select the "Into one folder"option, then you will most likely want to check the "Into subfolder box" (as shown here) and type in a name for the subfolder you wish to create in the destination location. To keep things easy (and repeatable), I suggest that every time you import photos from a card you do so to a standard import folder. I usually name this "Imported photos."
Importing image 6
- If you already have a prepared IPTC metadata template, it is a good idea to select this now from the Metadata Preset menu list (circled).
Importing image 7
- After you have configured all these settings it is a good idea to go to the Import Preset menu and save the import settings as a new preset for future use. When you are done just click on the Import button to commence the camera card import. Lightroom will import the files from the card to the Lightroom catalog. As the images are imported, the thumbnails will start to appear one by one in the Library module view. Meanwhile, the status indicator in the top-left corner will show the import progress. Often, there may be at least two processes taking place at once: the file import and the preview rendering. The progress bars give you a visual indication of how the import process is progressing. If more than one operation is taking place at a time, you will see the grouped status indicator (seen on the left). If you click the small arrow to the right, you can toggle the status indicator between each of the tasks in progress and the grouped indicator.
Importing image 8Note
- When you choose Copy as DNG, the Lightroom DNG converter should report a problem if it is unable to convert a supported raw file. However, this does not guarantee that all file corruptions will be reported. Only those problems that the Lightroom/Adobe Camera Raw processor is able to detect will be highlighted.
- Normally, you should not encounter any problems when importing files from a camera card. But if you choose the Copy Photos as DNG option, you will be alerted to any corruptions in the files as they are imported. After you have successfully imported all the images to the computer, you can safely eject the camera card and prepare it for reuse. However, at this stage I usually prefer to completely delete all the files on the card before removing it from the computer. The reason I suggest doing this is because when you reinsert the card in the camera, you won't be distracted by the fact that there are still images left on the card. For example, when I carry out studio shoots I find it helps to establish a routine in which the files are deleted immediately via the computer before ejecting. I find on a busy shoot it helps to avoid confusion if you clear the cards as soon as the files have been imported. Otherwise you may pick up a card, put it in the camera, and not be sure if this is one you have imported from already or not. This might cause you to wonder whether you have removed all the images. I would also advise you to always reformat the card using the camera formatting option before you start capturing further images. This is good housekeeping practice that can help reduce the risk of file corruption as new capture files are written to the card.
Importing image 9
You can use the Source panel to navigate and find the photos you wish to import. The Source panel view displays any found devices at the top under "Devices." This includes camera cards, tethered cameras (where there are files on the camera card), and also things like smartphones. So, when you insert a camera card the card should automatically appear listed in the "Devices" section and selected as the source (see Figure 4). Normally, Lightroom will only let you import from one card device at a time. However, if your computer is able to see memory cards as separate drive volumes and they appear listed under "Files," rather than "Devices," then it can be possible to import files from several camera cards at once. You can check the "Eject after Import" option if you want the card to be ejected after all the photos have been imported—this saves you having to do so manually at the system level. Figure 4: The Source panel in card import mode showing a card ready to import under found "Devices." For all other types of imports where you wish to either Copy as DNG, Copy, Move, or Add a folder of images to the Lightroom catalog via an existing volume listed in the "Files" section, the volume headers in the Source panel can be expanded in order to locate the pictures you wish to import, just as you would in a regular file browser program (Figure 5). It is important to note here that Lightroom displays all connected and available directory volumes regardless of whether they may contain image files or not (the same is true for the Destination panel). When selecting files to import from the Source panel "Files" section you need to first click on a volume header to expand it to view the drive's root level folders. From there you can click on the arrows to the left of each folder to expand the folder hierarchy and reveal the subfolder contents. Where you have folders nested several folders deep inside other folders you may find it helps if you double-click on a selected folder to reveal a more compact hierarchy, such as that shown in the Figure 6 view. If you compare this with Figure 5 you will notice how the same folder is selected in both views, but in the Figure 6 example only the folders belonging to that specific folder hierarchy are displayed and all other folders are hidden. If you double-click on a parent folder the Source panel folder hierarchy changes to reveal just those folders that belong to the parent folder's parent directory and so on. This is known as a docked folder view. It is probably easier for you to go to the File menu, choose Import Photos and Video..., and navigate the Source panel to understand how docked navigation works. The docked method can at first appear confusing as the folders appear to dance around unexpectedly. Once you spend a little time familiarizing yourself with the double-click method of navigation, the shuffling about that you see happening won't be so confusing. Figure 5: The Source panel with no card or other device found, showing the "Files" that can be selected for import. Figure 6: This shows the Source panel where double-clicking on the date folder listed in Figure 5 changes the folder list view to show a more compact hierarchy. Tip When selecting folders to import from in the Source panel, they don't all have to be on the same drive. It is possible to import from multiple folders that are on different drives. As you click on a folder listed in the Source panel, the photos that are contained in that folder will appear in the main content area and depending on whether the "Include Subfolders" option is checked or not, all subfolders will be included as well. It is possible to select multiple folders from the Source panel. You can do this by using the key to select a contiguous list of folders, or you can use the -click (Mac) or -click (PC) to make a discontiguous selection.
As you navigate using the Source panel, the files to be imported are displayed in a Grid view in the content area and you can use the Thumbnails slider in the Toolbar (Figure 7) to adjust the size of the grid cells. As with the Library module Grid view, you can double-click on a grid cell or use the E key to switch to a Loupe view of the selected file. The Loupe view mode allows you to check photos more easily before you import them into Lightroom. This may be useful if you are importing photos from a folder and need to ensure you have the right ones selected before you carry out an import and check for things like sharpness. The Loupe view Toolbar options (Figure 8) allow you to adjust the Loupe view zoom setting; you can also use the Spacebar to toggle the preview between a "zoom to fit" and a close-up zoom view (use the G key to return to a Grid view). In the Grid view, each cell has a check box next to it. You can use the "Check All" And "Uncheck All" buttons in the Toolbar (Figure 7) to select or deselect all the photos in the current Grid view that you wish to import. With all the cells deselected you can make a custom cell selection. Use a -click to make contiguous selections of photos, or use a -click(Mac) or -click (PC) to make a discontiguous selection and then click on any one of the check boxes to select or deselect all the photos that are in that selection. Furthermore, in both the Grid and Loupe views, You can use the "pick" keyboard shortcut (P) to add a photo to an import selection and use the "unpick" keyboard shortcut (either U or X) to remove a photo from an import selection and use ` to toggle between selecting and unselecting. If you hold down the key as you apply these key shortcuts you can auto advance to the next photo. Lastly, you can also use the spacebar to toggle adding or removing a photo from an import selection. Also in the Grid view Toolbar (Figure 7) is a Sort menu. This lets you sort files by Capture Time, Checked State, or File Name, which can play a useful role in helping you see more easily which specific files you wish to select when making an import. Figure 7: The Import dialog Toolbar with the Content area in Grid view mode. Figure 8: The Import dialog Toolbar with the Content area in Loupe view mode (note that an "Include in import" check box is on the Toolbar in the Loupe view mode). Tip You can right-click a folder to select "Dock Folder" and switch to a docked folder view and use the same contextual menu to quickly switch to an undocked view. Remember, the Lightroom Import dialog can only show supported image and video files. If no files can be imported you'll see a "No photos found" message. If you select a folder to import from in the Source panel and "Include Subfolders" happens to be unchecked (see Figure 5), you may see an "Include Subfolders" button in the middle of the content area (Figure 9). If you click on this it will switch this option back on and display the subfolder contents. Figure 9: The "No Photos Found" message plus "Include Subfolders" button. The Grid view cells provide some visual clues regarding import status. Files that are unselected are displayed with a dark vignette, meaning they won't be included in the import. If you have the "Don't import suspected duplicates" option checked in the File Handling panel (see page 51), any files that are suspected duplicates will appear grayed out. Lightroom is able to work this out by carrying out a background check to see if any of these files are already in the current catalog. Note Lightroom applies the following file check when determining whether a file is a suspected duplicate. First, Lightroom checks the filename to see if it matches. It also checks the EXIF metadata to see if the original capture date/time and file length match. Content area segmenting options How the photos are segmented in this view depends on which option you have selected in the bar at the top of the content area. As you might expect, the "All Photos" option shows all files without any segmenting. The "New Photos" option is useful as this hides any duplicate photos. The "Destination Folders" option works in conjunction with whichever Organize option you have selected in the Destination panel (see page 57) to determine how the photos appear segmented. If the "Into one folder" option is selected there will be no segmenting of the files. If the "By original folders" option is selected, the files in the content area will appear segmented in subfolder groupings (if any) from the selected source folder. And if the "By date" option is selected, the files in the content area will appear segmented by the date the files were captured. To illustrate this, Figure 10 shows photos ready to import by "Destination Folders." Here, the Destination panel is set to organize "By original folders" (circled in red) and the photos are separated into dated segments in the content area. You will notice that some of the thumbnails are grayed out, which indicates these are suspect duplicate photos, which if the "Don't import selected photos" option in the File Handling section is checked, won't be imported. In the Figure 11 example, this shows photos ready to import by "Destination Folders." Here, the Destination panel is set to organize "By date" (circled in blue) and the photos are separated into dated segments in the content area. Note how the photos that have been deselected here are displayed with a dark vignette. Figure 10: This shows photos ready to import by "Destination Folders" where the Destination panel is set to organize "By original folders." Figure 11: This also shows photos ready to import by "Destination Folders" where the Destination panel is set to organize "By date." Note In Figure 11 you'll see that the date destination folders appear in italics in the Destination panel. Basically this is telling you that these folders have not been created yet and also tells you how many files will be placed in these new folders.
File Handling panel
The File Handling panel (Figure 12) is where you decide how the imported photos should be managed. The Render Previews menu allows you to decide how previews should be rendered during the import process. The default setting here is Minimal, which imports photos as quickly as possible without devoting resources to building the previews just yet. The Embedded & Sidecar option makes use of any previews embedded in the original images or sidecar files. This can help speed up the import process from a camera card and let you see some kind of image preview right away, but the previews may only offer a rough guide as to the images' appearance. You can also force Lightroom to build Standard previews as the files are imported, or choose 1:1, which will go the whole nine yards and build full-size previews (this can really slow down the import times). Fortunately, Lightroom always prioritizes importing the photos first before it proceeds to render the finer-quality previews. Of the four available options, I reckon "Embedded & Sidecar" makes the most sense, because although the previews may not be as accurate, this will still be the fastest way to get some kind of preview to appear as the files are imported. Figure 12: This shows a full view of File Handling panel options (top) and the Render Preview options (bottom). It should be noted that Lightroom is able to import all the supported raw file formats plus RGB, Lab, CMYK, and grayscale images saved using the TIFF, JPEG, or PSD file formats. Non-raw images can be in 8-bit or 16-bit mode, but PSD files must be saved from Photoshop with the Maximum Compatibility option switched on (see Figure 13). If there are no compatibility problems, everything should import successfully, but if there are files Lightroom cannot process you'll encounter a feedback dialog like the one shown in Figure 14. Figure 13: To ensure that your layered Photoshop format (PSD) files are recognized in Lightroom, make sure you have the Maximum Compatibility option switched on in the Photoshop File Handling preferences before you save layered PSD files via Photoshop. If you ever find you are unable to import PSD files into Lightroom, try switching this option on in Photoshop and resave the PSDs overwriting the originals. Shown here is the Photoshop CS5 Preferences dialog. Figure 14: If there are files that can't be imported into Lightroom, you'll see the warning dialog shown here, which lists the files that couldn't be imported and the reasons why. Note Here is a summary of why some images may fail to be imported into Lightroom: imported files are in an unsupported color mode such as Index Color mode. The file size is too big because it exceeds the maximum pixel width of 65,000 pixels. It could be due to files becoming corrupted because of a hardware corruption (this can particularly be a problem at the camera card import stage). Or, if you have the "Don't Import Duplicates" option checked, they may already be in the catalog.
Making backup copies of imported files
Whenever you choose Copy as DNG, Copy, or Move to import files into Lightroom you can check the "Make a Second Copy To" box and select a folder for storing backups of the files that are about to be imported. The backup option is therefore extremely useful when importing photos from a camera card, because you never know when a hard disk failure might occur. If you copy the original camera files to a separate backup drive at the import stage (as shown in Figure 15) the chances of losing all your camera files due to disk failure or human error will be greatly diminished. Note that the backup copy images are always stored in their original file state with no file renaming and no develop settings or metadata settings applied to them (although when you choose "Copy as DNG" the backup copy files will be renamed). What you end up with is an exact copy of the files that were captured on the original camera card before they were imported into Lightroom. After you have renamed and edited the master selection of images and have backed up these images, you'll no longer need to keep the initial backup copy files. Nonetheless, it's a wise precaution at the camera card import stage to temporarily keep more than one copy of the master files stored on the system. Figure 15: This illustrates the standard Lightroom file handling backup procedure where you can assign a Second Copy folder to save backup files to at the time of import. Note I know some people would like the second copy backup feature to store copies of the files after they have been imported into Lightroom (i.e., renamed and with the added metadata and develop settings). However, it can actually be quite a good idea to have the security of keeping backup files that have been untouched by Lightroom.
Photos shot as raw + JPEG
If you have your camera set to capture both raw + JPEG and the "Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos" option in the General Lightroom preferences is left unchecked (the default setting), the imported photos will appear grouped as a raw+JPEG image in the Lightroom catalog (Figure 16). If you decide later to import the JPEGs as separate photos, you can check the "Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos" option in the preferences, select the relevant folder, and choose Synchronize Folder... from the Library module Library menu. This will allow you to import the JPEGs that accompany the imported raw files as separate JPEG photos. Figure 16: If "Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos" is unchecked the raw files and accompanying JPEGs will both be copied to the destination folder during the import process, but only the raw files will actually appear "imported" into Lightroom. You will see such imports named using an extension suffix such as: .CR2+JPEG or .NEF+JPEG.
File handling limitations
As you may have gathered by now, Lightroom is principally a photo cataloging and raw editing program that can also edit non-raw files. You can import Grayscale, CMYK, and Lab mode images and these can be previewed and adjusted in Lightroom, but when you do so, the edit calculations are carried out in RGB and exported as RGB only. Lightroom does actually support importing CMYK photographs and makes it possible for you to edit them in the Develop module (via an internal RGB conversion), but I don't recommend doing this. Basically, it is best to use just the Library module to manage your CMYK images and not take them anywhere near the Develop module. Even so, I am sure many photographers will now appreciate being allowed to manage all their image assets (including CMYK originals) in Lightroom and have the ability to export them in their original format. Many digital cameras are capable of shooting movie clips as well as stills, so Lightroom also allows you to import video files; plus, Lightroom 4 now offers support for previewing movie clips inside Lightroom. You could argue that Lightroom has gone somewhat beyond its original remit as a "photography only" program. But as many photographers are now getting more and more into shooting video on their stills cameras, it makes sense that Lightroom should be able to handle the import, viewing, and (limited) editing of video files. Besides, anyone who has a video mode on their camera is likely at some point to want to shoot a few video clips alongside their still photos and will want to import these along with their stills shots. So while it is great that Lightroom 4 allows video clips to be played and edited inside Lightroom, I don't anticipate a shift toward full video editing capabilities being built into the program just yet. I mentioned already the limits of files saved in the PSD format with backward compatibility switched off in Photoshop and how to resolve this. One other thing to bear in mind is how the pixel limit for importing photos into Lightroom is 65,000 pixels per side. This means that where the widest dimension of an image exceeds this value, it can't be imported into Lightroom. But 65,000 pixels should be enough to satisfy most users.
File Renaming panel
In order to manage your image files successfully, it is important you rename them as early as possible. Ideally this should be carried out at the import stage. This can be done by checking "Rename Files" in the File Renaming panel (Figure 17). The Template menu contains several file renaming templates ready for immediate use. For example, if you select the Custom Name – Sequence template, you can enter text in the Custom Text field and the imported files will be renamed using this custom text followed by a sequence number starting with the number entered in the Start Number box. For an initial import of images, you may well want the numbering to start at 1, but if you are adding files to an existing shoot you will want to set the numbering so that it follows consecutively from the last number in the current image sequence. Note that once the start number has been set, Lightroom automatic-ally readjusts the numbering sequence as you import further images to the current folder. Figure 17: The File Renaming panel is shown here with the default Filename renaming template in use (top), the full Template menu list visible (middle), and with a Custom Name–sequence renaming template selected (bottom). If you choose the Edit... option from the bottom of the Template list, this opens the Filename Template Editor (Figure 18). This allows you to customize and save your own File Naming template designs using tokens, such as Date (YY) or Sequence #(0001). In the Figure 18 example, I clicked the "Insert" button next to the Custom Text item in the dialog to add a Custom Text token at the beginning of the File Naming template. Next, I went to the Additional section and clicked on the Insert button to add a series of Date format tokens (see the list options in Figure 19). I then went to the Numbering section and added a four-digit Sequence number token. This template was then saved and added to the File Renaming template list. Figure 18: The Filename Template Editor. Figure 19: This shows the Date options that are available when renaming. Note that the Julian Day of the Year option is applicable to things like astronomical dating. Alternatively, you can use the Custom Name – Original File Number template. This is actually quite a useful renaming option. When you use this template the sequence number uses the original, camera-generated file number and the file renamed sequence numbers will keep rolling over from one job to the next. So, instead of your imported images always being numbered from say, 1 to 500, you will end up with a much broader distribution of sequence numbers throughout the catalog. Consequently, this can make it easier for you if you need to narrow down an image selection based on a sequence number only search. Let's say for example that a client orders a photo, giving you just the last four numbers and nothing else. If you reset the numbers when renaming so that they start from 0001 before each job, then every shoot you import will most likely have photos that are renamed with sequence numbers in the 0001–0100 range. If on the other hand, you use the Custom Name – Original File Number template to rename your photos, the chances are that there won't be many other photos in your catalog that have the exact same four-digit number. This method of renaming should work in most instances, although I am aware that with certain camera models there is a compatibility problem where the camera-assigned sequence number cannot be recognized. Lastly, the sample filename at the bottom of the File Naming panel gives you an advance indication of how the chosen renaming will be applied to the imported files. Tip I find the only time I ever need to use the Rename Photos dialog is when I have to correct files that have been imported out of sequence. For example, when I shoot in the tethered mode in Lightroom things only ever go wrong when I am at my most busiest! Consequently, I do sometimes end up manually importing files from the camera card to add these to the files that have been correctly imported (and automatically renamed). It is here that I find the original file number renaming really helpful. Renaming files based on the sequence number contained in the original camera-generated filename is far more reliable than manually trying to work out how to renumber files so that they fit within an existing sequence of imports.
Renaming catalog images later
Although it is always best to rename files at the import stage, files can also be renamed any time after you have imported them into Lightroom. You can make a selection of images in the Library module using the Grid or Filmstrip and choose Library Ô Rename Photos (alternatively, you can use the F2 keyboard shortcut). This opens the Rename Photos dialog shown in Figure 20, where you can use the File Naming menu to select a custom file renaming template like the ones just discussed, or choose Edit... from the File Naming menu to open the Filename Template Editor (Figure 18). My advice is to always rename early before you start sharing your work with clients. If you rename your files at a later stage this can only lead to confusion. Figure 20: In the Rename Photos dialog shown here, I selected a pre-created custom file renaming scheme from the File Naming menu, entered custom text that would be utilized during the renaming, and set the Start Number to "1."
Apply During Import panel
The Apply During Import panel (Figure 21) lets you choose the Develop settings and metadata information you wish to apply to photos as they are imported into Lightroom. For example, the Develop Settings menu lets you access all of the Develop settings you currently have saved in the Develop module Presets list. This is extremely useful because it means you can instruct Lightroom to apply a favorite Develop preset to photos as they are imported. In Figure 21 you can see that I selected one of the default Lightroom settings: General – Auto Tone. I generally find this develop setting useful whenever I want to auto-adjust photos as they are imported into Lightroom. Figure 21: The Apply During Import panel. Sensible folder naming and file naming can certainly make it easier to retrieve images later, but as your library grows you will begin to appreciate the benefit of using EXIF metadata and other types of metadata to help track down your files, especially when searching a large catalog collection of photographs. The Library module offers a number of ways to search for a specific image or groups of images. For example, the Library Filter bar can help you search for files using criteria such as by "Date," "Camera," or "File Type." This method of searching requires no prior input from the user, of course, but in the Apply During Import panel you can add custom metadata and keywords to your photos as they are imported and thereby ensure that such informational data is present in your files right from the start. Next to the Metadata item is a pop-list. This lets you access any metadata templates that you have pre-saved (see page for more about working with metadata templates). Or, you can click New... to open the Edit Metadata Preset menu shown in Figure 2. You can use this dialog to create brand-new metadata templates. Admittedly, the dialog shown here is rather tiny, so check out the above page reference if you would like to see the preset dialog contents more clearly. Metadata presets are particularly useful where you wish to add common information that conforms to the Telecommunications Council (IPTC) standards. This can include information such as your contact details and image copyright status. Figure 23 example I named the subfolder LR Import Folder and the full destination directory path would therefore be: Users/Username/Pictures/LR Import Folder/. Another option is to segment the photos by "Original Folders." So, if the source images on the drive are contained in more than one folder you can preserve the same source folder hierarchy structure when the files are imported. Lastly, you can choose to organize "By Date." This segments the imported photos into dated folders and the way it does this will depend on which date segment option you have selected (see Figure 24). Here, you can choose from a list of different date segmenting options. However, If you have a large number of images to import, a date calculation dialog may appear, which will indicate that Lightroom is reading in the capture date metadata of all the files that are available to be imported (see Figure 25 ). Note that if you choose either the "Original Folders" or "By Date" options you can click on "Destination Folders" in the content area workflow bar (see Figure 10 and Figure 11), which lets you preview how the photos will be segmented before you click "Import." Figure 23: The Destination panel. Notice how the volume headers in the Destination panel reveal how much disk space remains out of the total hard drive volume capacity. Figure 24: The Destination panel showing the segment folder options. Figure 25: This shows the date calculation in progress where a large number of files have been imported.
Planning where to store your imported photos
The Lightroom files can be imported to any drive destination you like. The only restriction you have is that the catalog file cannot be stored on a network attached storage (NAS) device. This is because the Lightroom catalog can't be shared with other users across a network. How you plan to organize your photos and the folders they are stored in is a question I'll be addressing in more detail in the following chapter, where we will look at working with the Folders panel in the Library module in more detail. For now, let's just consider the various options that can be implemented here and ways to make the import workflow as smooth as possible. There are four main approaches I see photographers using. By far the most popular is the one of total chaos, where photographers are haphazard and inconsistent in the way they segment their photos into system folders. Obviously this is something you want to avoid, so you should at least try to segment your imported files by putting them into named folders that have some kind of systematic structure. If you mainly shoot on assignment you could import your photos to folders that use the client name plus date. I actually find this works pretty well for all my studio shoots. So, on a shoot for a client called "Clipso" that was shot in April 2011, I created a new folder called Clipso_190411 and used this to contain all the photos imported from that day's shoot. Alternatively, one could use a location name hierarchy, where Rome photos go inside an Italy folder inside a Europe folder. This can work but only as long as you are consistent with your folder hierarchy. Note that when choosing to import your files "Into one folder," you can use the directory to locate the folder to download to and check the "Into Subfolder" option to specify a subfolder (see Figure 26). A third method is to segment by date (as shown in Figure 24). This system can work well whether you shoot mainly on assignment or for pleasure. Plus, if you are using keyword metadata to extensively catalog all your photos it really should not matter which folder your photos live in. This is because you can search for everything by metadata. It can be argued that organizing your photo imports by date offers a much more consistent approach to folder organization and is specially suited to those users who systematically apply keywords to all their photos. Figure 26: In Lightroom 4, whenever the "Into Subfolder" option is checked in the Destination panel, the placeholder text says "Enter name," reminding you that you must type the name of the subfolder destination. With the above methods you need to take into account the scalability of the system you choose to implement. This is something I'll also discuss in more detail in the next chapter. So, rather than worrying too much at the import stage about where your imported images should eventually be stored, there is a fourth option, where a series of workflow folders are used to store the incoming files before you decide where best to store them for the long term. There is much to be said for a workflow folder system. Instead of trying to work out at the import stage which folder the photos should go into, or what hierarchy to use, you just import everything into the same import folder. This can be regarded as an initial holding folder to store all new, incoming images before you decide where they should eventually live. For example, when I am on location I download everything to a laptop computer. The laptop is only required to temporarily store the imported images before they are transferred to the main computer archive. It therefore makes sense to use a standard import folder such as the LR Import Folder, shown in the Figure 23 example. It is also pretty easy to create a standard import preset (see page 59) that can be used for every job. This method of importing can help you standardize the import process and has the added advantage that you don't need to think too much about where to store the images just yet. You just use the same import preset for each and every shoot.
Importing to a selected destination folder
You may often find yourself working with a folder of images and wish to import more photos to this same folder. You could go to the Import dialog and manually locate the relevant folder but there is an easier way. While you have the folder highlighted in the Library module Folders panel right-click (or use the key with an old-style Mac mouse) to access the contextual menu shown in Figure 27 and select "Import into this Folder..." This launches the Import dialog with that folder preselected as the destination folder. Figure 27: The contextual menu for the Folders panel, showing the "Import into this Folder..." menu item. To be continued