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- Understanding Lightroom catalogs
- Importing photos from multiple sources
- Organizing photos with ratings, keywords, and collections
- Working with virtual copies
- Making basic corrections to photo color and tone
- Making local photo edits with the Adjustment Brush and Graduated Filter tools
- Removing spots from multiple photos at once
- Reducing digital noise and sharpening
- Cropping and straightening
- Printing and exporting edited photos
Skill Level Beginner
After a photo shoot, you'll use Lightroom's import features to download photos from your camera's memory card and at the same time to make a record of each photo in your Lightroom catalog. I'm working in my main Lightroom catalog, which is the catalog that I recommend you use for all of your own photos. I have inserted my camera card into the USB card reader that's attached to my computer, and when I did that, Lightroom recognize that camera card and automatically opened this Import window. If your Import window doesn't open automatically, you can open it manually by clicking the Import button at the bottom-left of the Library module.
You can see that the Import window offers lots of options when you're importing from a camera card, more than when you're importing from a hard drive. I would like to show you some of the more useful options here. The most important options are in the top bar. Over on the left is the Source field. Lightroom automatically detected my camera card and added it here as the source from which we are going import photos. In this area, I can tell Lightroom how I want it to import those photos. When I am importing photos from a camera card, I don't have the option to move the photos off the card or to add information about them to the catalog without copying them.
Really the best option here in most cases is Copy, which will copy the photos to a new location, the location I specify over here, and will add information about them to a catalog. There is another option to Copy as DNG, but this only comes into play if I'm copying RAW files and I know that I want to convert them to the open-source Digital Negative RAW format. That can slow down the process of importing, so if I do want to do that, I will do it later inside of Lightroom.
So, in most cases, Copy is the best choice here. Next, I will move over to the Destination field. Here, I will tell Lightroom where I want it to put the photos that it's bringing off of the camera card. As I explained in the last movie, it's a good idea to put all the photos that you bring into Lightroom in the same place. In the last movie, I made a folder for that purpose inside my Pictures folder, and I called it Jan Lightroom Photos, so that's the destination that I want to put in this area. To get there, I will click on this path and I'll choose Other Destination.
I will go into my Pictures folder, and I will choose Jan Lightroom Photos, and then I will click Choose. Over here in the Destination panel, by default, Lightroom will automatically create subfolders inside the Jan Lightroom Photos folder and name those subfolders with the dates of the photos that I am importing. If you look here, you can see the subfolders that I already have in my Jan Lightroom Photos folder. I like to name my shoot folders with the date and then the location and then the subject matter of the shoot.
So, rather than have Lightroom create date subfolders for me, I'm going to change the Organize menu to Into one folder, and then I'm going to type the name of the folder that's the same as the naming scheme I've been using. So, I will type the year of the shoot and then the month of the shoot and the day of the shoot, and then I'll type the location and an abbreviation for the subject matter. When I am importing photos from a photo card, I can see a preview of each of the photos on the card in this area.
I can use these previews to pick out the duds that I may not want to import. If I see a photo, like this one, that I don't want to import, I will just uncheck it here, and if I want to get a closer view to make that decision, I can double-click a photo thumbnail. And when I'm done looking at it in this larger view, I can double-click again to go back to the thumbnail grid view. There are some other useful options over here in the column on the right. I'm going to scroll up to the File Handling panel. Here, I like to tell Lightroom to make a second copy of the photos that I am importing and to store that second copy on an external hard drive.
Now, to make this work, I have to have attached the external hard drive to my computer before I came into this Import window, and I have done that. So, I will make sure that Make a Second Copy To is checked, and then I'll click on this path and I will navigate to my external hard drive and into the folder on that drive where I want to save the second copy of all the photos that Lightroom is bringing into my computer, and then I will click Choose. So, now I'll have a safe backup of all of the photos that I am bringing in.
And when I am importing from a camera card, I like to check Don't Import Suspected Duplicates, because it's possible that I use the same card before and then put it back in my camera and shot some more photos, so I don't want to bring any photos that I already brought into this Lightroom Catalog into the catalog again. If Lightroom does find any suspected duplicates, it will turn their previews gray, as you see here, and it won't import them into the Lightroom Catalog or into my computer.
If I don't want to see these gray previews, I can go up here and choose to view only the new photos on the card rather than all photos. There are some other options over here, including options to rename the files as you're importing them, options to add metadata like copyright data upon import and a place that you can add keywords. Now, sometimes I do add keywords, if there is a keyword that I think is relevant to all the photos that I am importing. So, for example, in this case, all of these photos are about a construction site, so I might type 'construction' here. And all of the photos were taken in Denver, so I might add a comma and then type another keyword 'Denver'.
And all of the photos have the dominant color orange, so after another comma, I might type orange. I can then use these keywords in the future to search for and find these particular photos among all the photos in this catalog. So, those are what I think are the most important options here in the expanded view of the Import window. But you know sometimes I just don't want to add all these options; all I want to do is to quickly get the photos off of my camera card and into Lightroom. If you find yourself in that situation, then you may prefer to use a simplified view of this Import window.
To switch to a simplified view, I will go down to the triangle at the bottom- left of the expanded Import window, and that switches to this simplified compact view. Here is an alternative to making all the choices that I did in the Expanded view. I could just check that I had the right source, I could make sure that I was copying the files off of my card, and here I could set the destination as well as create a subfolder within that destination. So, that's the minimum that you have to do to bring photos in from a camera card to Lightroom.
When you are done there, you can just click Import, and that will take you back to the Library module, where there is a progress bar indicating that Lightroom is bringing all the selected photos off of the camera card and into this Lightroom catalog. So whether you use the Expanded view or the Compact view of the Import window, that's how you can bring photos from your camera card into Lightroom.