Efficient workflow in Lightroom

Header efficient workflow

Knowing our way through Lightroom means to save a considerable amount of time into doing the post production process. As we all know, keyboard shortcuts are part of this process, but without proper knowledge on how to develop your images in a faster way rather than exploring through categories and trying to remember where certain tools were located at you are not going to become any better, quite on the contrary. Let’s start by mentioning what I think are key points on creating an efficient workflow in Lightroom CC/6.

Importing your pictures

People tend to have two approaches on this matter:

  1. Copying your pictures from the memory card to a certain location at your PC. Then importing the pictures inside Lightroom through the Import command.
  2. Importing pictures from Lightroom only.

These two methods have its pros and cons. For the first method, there is no doubt it is a safe one. Since Lightroom does not work in a destructive way, there is no need for an extra copy of your images somewhere else; but you are creating them if you work like this because Lightroom creates its own library location folder besides the one you are importing your pictures from. In a few words, you are losing hard drive space by using this method.
The second method consists in Lightroom recognizing every time you enter a memory card at your PC, then prompting the Import dialog window… in my opinion, it can be incredibly annoying that every time you insert a sd card (and sometimes it even asks you while plugging pen drives) a pop-up window shows asking you to import your files when perhaps you only want to take a look at the pictures to decide what to import, which happens often if you are looking at someone else’s memory card.
Under those circumstances, what you need to do is go to the Preferences panel (listed on the Edit menu) and uncheck the option for Showing import dialog when a memory card is detected. This way you can use the import dialog only when YOU want to do so. Also, notice the second method solves a common Windows problem of management files with the same name at the same folder (you can use the compare info tool to decide which image should stay instead of becoming erased).

For bulk quantity of images, work with the Library Module for sorting them

If you were handling the selection of images to keep, or in other words, doing the “culling process”, under the Develop tab, it will take you a HUGE amount of time, as well as becoming tedious since you have to go through every image and remind the previous ones you saw. Also discarding images at the Library module is an easier task given the fact Lightroom has its own shortcuts designed for the task.

Keep it a simple task: save or discard. Perhaps at first it may take the time to train your eye for spotting imperfections at first sight, but you will end up becoming good at it, as well as speeding up your post production process.

Batch processing for large amount of images

Imagine you are working with 200+ shots that need to be processed by tomorrow morning, and its 9 pm by the time you arrived at your desk. The process may not be impossible if you use batch processing techniques.

Batch processing, even though it is mostly used in the film industry, works as a way where we can apply several adjustments to a large group of images at the same time. It syncs the settings you applied to one image to a large bulk of them (it can handle over 400 shots, and its process speed will depend on your computer performance capacity), resulting in saving perhaps over 5 hours of work at certain times. Perhaps, later on, you may need to review all of your shots for becoming sure no one needs special adjustments if that is the case you are ready to export your post-processed images.

The workflow for batch processing is simple: apply the adjustments to one shot at your new import; then select every image at the Library, right button click and under the Develop settings option, apply Sync Settings. You can then select which adjustments you want your image bulk to have in common, and voila!

Proceed to apply effects adjustments at Photoshop after you have done the batch processing, otherwise, the images will not be able to sync or they will lose the work you applied in Photoshop.

Export your images at format you will use later on

It is not necessary to export as RAW unless your aim is either to have a RAW processed files portfolio or if you want to reapply adjustments to these RAW files later on. Otherwise use JPEG for most cases, since it is the universal format for images all over the internet. If your image has a white background, avoid exporting it as PNG or perhaps you may lose detail given the transparency issue of PNG files. TIFF is the best format if you plan to plot your processed files, but it won’t work for uploading at most sites.

Also remember these three formats have a different color outcome, they process the color in a different way, so the three images resulting from exporting each time under a different file type will have a tonal range variation given the color range each image type can handle. For more information on RAW image handling please refer to this link.

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