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Using Lightroom on the road

From: The Practicing Photographer

Video: Using Lightroom on the road

At home I use Lightroom for my still image post production. Right now, if you look here, you see a

Using Lightroom on the road

At home I use Lightroom for my still image post production. I really like its Editing tools. I like its Organizational tools. I like its performance, and I really appreciate its Photoshop integration. On the road, I also use Photoshop Lightroom. There's an easy way that I can manage and move my Lightroom catalog around as I travel. And this week on The Practicing Photographer, I'm going to show you how I do that. Now, if I set up my Lightroom catalog in the right way, using the right types of drives, I have found that I can easily take my entire system that I'm used to having on my desktop and seamlessly move it to my laptop.

What I'm looking for when I'm on the road typically is not heavy post-production. I tend to focus more on shooting, and I don't worry too much about image-editing until I get back. Nevertheless, there are times when I want to work an image up to a finished result, either to see if I got what I needed before I leave a location or simply because I can't wait and I'm curious, or because I need to deliver images while I'm out on the road. Even if I'm not doing heavy image-editing though, I want the ability to go ahead and start rating my images, defining my select, adding metadata. And I do all of that in Lightroom.

So, it's silly to do it somewhere else and have to move it back into Lightroom when I get home. So, for all of those reasons, this is the scheme that I use. Lightroom keeps it's catalog in a file on your hard drive somewhere. By default when you start a Lightroom catalog, it puts it in the same directory where, or the same drive where Lightroom is. In catalog settings I can tell Lightroom where I want it to store it's catalog. I don't have to take that default location. Now where I choose is this drive right here. This is just a portable, bus-powered, two terrabyte, two-and-a-half inch, USB 3 drive.

Nice speedy little drive, doesn't cost that much. Has a lot of storage. My Lightroom catalogue is stored on here. So at home, I plug it into my Mac Pro and my Lightroom preferences there are set to point to this volume, and to this specific directory. When I get ready to hit the road, I just unplug it, I plug it into this laptop. Its Lightroom preferences are set to point to the same place. So, my catalog travel's intact wherever I go. It doesn't even know that it's been moved around. So in this way, I get all of my keywords and everything else, all my metadata, all of my images, all of my edits. They just travel very easily simply by moving this drive around.

Now, I don't keep images on this drive. I like to have the catalog separate from the images because when you're using Lightroom, it has to do a lot of reading and writing on that catalog. If that's one the same drive that it's trying to read and write images from, that's a whole lot of seeking for the head to do, your overall drive performance will go down. So I keep images on a separate drive, and that keeps things a little bit speedier. I have toyed with the idea of switching this over to an SSD, a solid state drive because they're so speedy. Right now, the price per gigabyte still doesn't work in my favor.

I would need a pretty large drive and that's awfully expensive, so I'm sticking with an actual hard drive. It's USB 3 drive, because that's the fasted port I have on both this and my desktop. This has a thunderbolt port, which is very speedy. My Mac Pro does not, so I feel like this is a good solution for now. When something faster or cheaper comes along, I can simply copy the catalog to that new volume, whatever it is, get the same name, and Lightroom won't know that anything has changed. Things will simply be going faster. So for images at home, I have a drive that is dedicated to holding images.

It has a particular name, and there is a folder on it called Images. That's the root level of my image hierarchy within Lightroom. This drive is also a little portable USB 3 drive, I had given it the same name as that drive at home where I keep my images. And it's also got a folder on it called images, that is the root level drive. So, that gives me a lot of portability of images. My main image archive is to big to fit on a portable drive. I can't take it with me. I can only take a subset of it. So, when I go on the road I try and pick the images that I know I might need full access to and I copy those folders over to this drive.

If I make Metadata changes, edits, anything else, that all gets stored in the Lightroom catalog. If I generate new TIFF files, because I've been round tripping to Photoshop or what not, that'll get stored on here. When I go back home, I just use Sync Software to sync up this folder, or, or these folders, with the ones I left behind. All the new stuff gets copied over, and now my master set at home is up to date. But with this setup, I get more then just these few images that I brought with me. Because when you import, I keep doing that these drives aren't going to last very long. I gotta go solid state.

When you import images into Lightroom, it builds these little thumb nail files. These are what it uses when you're in the library module to give you a little preview. But it also builds full res JPG preview of every single image, even if it's Raw files or any other format. So, all of those full res previews are stored in the Lightroom catalog. So when I'm traveling, I'm actually travelling with nice, big full pixel count copies of every image in my library. They won't be Raws, I can't go in and alter the white balance of them. But I've at least got nice big JPGs.

So, if I'm on the road, and I decide, wow, I really need this image and it's not one of the ones that I thought to bring, I still have a nice, big JPG preview. For me, that works out well just because of the nature of my work. Sometimes a publisher calls and says, boy, we really need a picture of that frog that you took, and oh okay, I've got a nice big JPG of that. I can send that to them, and that's usually enough to get by. So with this setup, I've got the ability to seamlessly move all of that catalog data around, simply by a drive back and forth. And I've got the ability to take a select set of full-res Raw files, or whatever other formats I want on this drive.

And whatever I don't choose to bring, I still have full-res JPGs of. So I found this to be a really nice way to take my entire image editing life on the road with me. And one thing that's nice about having it all with me is, there's a lot of just grunt work I can do when I'm on the road that I never get around to doing at home. Right now, if you look here, you see a lot of these folders have question marks on them. These are folders that the original images aren't around for. Nevertheless, I do still have copies of each of those images. Again, those full JPG previews.

I can go ahead and edit metadata on those. So I can go through and keyword images, I can rate images. While I'm sitting on a plane or something, I can do all that grunt work that I never get around to at home. So if you tend to travel, If you move back and forth between multiple machines. Even if you don't travel. Even if it's just that you've got a work machine and a home machine. This is, I have found a good scheme for having a single Lightroom library that travels well and that gives you a tremendous amount of work capability.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for The Practicing Photographer
The Practicing Photographer

71 video lessons · 44114 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 5m 35s
    1. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
  2. 7m 34s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
    2. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
  3. 6h 54m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s

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