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Veit's personal Lightroom Workflow Experience: Part 2


by Veit Irtenkauf

Manage the Digital Workflow


The first part of this series examined the minimal changes that are required to use Lightroom as a panorama photographer. This part looks at synchronizing Lightroom between different machines.

Traveling (The World)

Whenever I travel for work (in real life, I’m in high-tech Marketing), at least one camera always goes with me. I often end up with hundreds of images that I need to manage while on the road. And while my mobile computing equipment consists of a 3 year old corporate notebook, which is hopelessly underpowered, under-RAM’ed, not color-calibrated and features only a 10 inch screen, I often find the time to work on my images, be it stitching a panorama during a meeting (panorama stitching takes a lot of time on an old clunker, so yes, what better time to stitch than during a meeting when you don’t need your notebook), working on layer masks while on an airplane or doing some non-destructive editing in a hotel room. Thus, one critical question concerning Lightroom is: how can I export new images from my work notebook, including all the individual settings per image, and then import them into Lightroom on my main machine?

Traveler’s Workflow is similar, although I cannot finalize an adjustments

Upon a cursory glance, my traveler’s workflow looks pretty much like my regular workflow. But there are differences. In general, I cannot finalize any adjustment that requires me to make a visual judgment, since I don’t work in a calibrated environment. In reality, I can go through the entire ingestion process as I would do on my main machine, including backups to portable hard drives. But while I can also select and rate almost all of my keeper images, I can only make minor adjustments in Rawshooter Premium, basically relying on the histogram to not overdo any of my adjustments. Typically, I “under-adjust” and then fix later on my main machine in Photoshop. And while I stitch panoramas, I can only do non-destructive editing in Photoshop (through layers) in addition to labor-intensive tasks such as masking. Thus I end up with backups of my originals, RAW files with minor adjustments in my workspace folders and Photoshop files in various states of editing that need to then be finalized on my main machine at home.

When I return from a trip, I typically copy the following from one of my two external backup drives:

  • my originals
  • my Rawshooter Premium settings, so I can retain how I “developed” my RAW files
  • my Photoshop files which contain images (single and panoramic) in various states of adjustments.

How does Lightroom handle this challenge?

  • Originals: Since I keep my backups of my originals outside of Lightroom, I can simply use Windows or OSX to copy them from one machine to another
  • RAW files: The early beta versions contained a nifty feature called the photo binder that allowed a user to put a selection of images, including all their adjustments, into one big file, then transfer the file and import the Photo binder on another machine. Unfortunately, that feature did not make it into version 1 of Lightroom. So the best alternative is to select the images I want to copy in Develop mode and then click Metadata -> XMP -> Export XMP metadata to file. For every image in my selection, Lightroom then writes an XMP sidecar files containing all the adjustments I made (if I had changed my preferences to “Automatically write changes into XMP”, Lightroom would have already generated the XMP files and I would not have to do it manually). So I just grab the images and the corresponding XMP files, move them to the other machine and Lightroom automatically adds back all the adjustments when importing the images
  • For my Photoshop adjustments, since I use the Edit in Adobe Photoshop feature, I save these adjusted images in Photoshop format. Even although I bring them back into Lightroom, I don’t make any changes there, therefore, I don’t have to worry about XMP sidecar files. Again, I just grab the Photoshop files, transfer them to my main machine and import them into Lightroom.

While this process is manageable, I’d wish Adobe brought back the Photo Binder function from earlier beta releases or another function that allows me to create a selection of images, write everything within my selection to one big file and then re-import that file into Lightroom on my other machine. I give Adobe big kudos for making Lightroom work reasonably well on an underpowered notebook like my old IBM X31 (Pentium M 1GHz, 512MB, 10’ LCD, 5400 rpm disk). Not only does it run OK, but screen real estate is at a premium on a 10 inch LCD screen. How could I ever work in Lightroom without the ability to automatically hide the toolbars? I typically set the left, right and top toolbar to auto hide, thus being able to work within a much bigger and less cramped workspace. I use mainly keyboard commands to switch between modes and calling up the most important functions, thus being able to work efficiently even on my small travel notebook.

Lightroom on a 10 inch screen –the toolbar auto-hide feature helps a lot!

It’s often the little things that make a difference. And being able to use Lightroom on an old traveler’s notebook made a big difference to me. Well done, Adobe!

Come to think of it, I should probably install it on a Samsung Q1 seed unit that I received recently. The Q1 is a UMPC (Ultra-Mobile PC) running on an Intel Celeron processor, featuring a 7 inch screen and works like a tablet PC with no keyboard. But that’s outside of the scope of this series.

Part 3 of this series examines how Lightroom can help me as a photo-blogger.


Manage the Digital Workflow


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