Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Preparing your computer for LR Mobile, part of Lightroom & Lightroom Mobile: Raw Workflows.
- I'm really hoping that, by now, you're enjoying having Lightroom on your mobile device. Personally, I love that I don't have to switch to a different tool set from what I'm used to on my computer when I want to edit an image on my phone or tablet. In this chapter, we're going to dive into the details of activating, configuring, and using syncing on your desktop and mobile versions of Lightroom. Before we do that, though, we're going to look at some specifics of how you might set up your Lightroom catalog on your computer. Lightroom offers a lot of flexibility in the way that you store your catalog and images, and configuring your computer a particular way, can make for a much easier mobile workflow.
It takes a lot of different kinds of data to make the Lightroom catalog work. Go into Lightroom and go to Lightroom's catalog settings. On the Mac, this is under the Lightroom menu, while on Windows, it's under the Edit menu. The resulting dialog is identical in both operating systems. Under the General tab, you'll see an entry for location, right here. This is where the catalog information, for the catalog you're currently viewing, is stored. It's a path to a particular spot on one of your drives. Hit the Show button, and Lightroom will take you to the catalog's folder in your File Manager.
If I open up that folder, I find these things, LightroomCatalogPreviews.LRdata, LightroomCatalog.LRcat, and so on. These files are where Lightroom stores everything from thumbnails of your images to larger preview files, and smart previews, as well as meta data ratings, and of course, all the edits that you've made to your images. It's basically just a data base. When you create a new catalog, you're creating a new empty data base, and when you open a catalog, you're simply pointing Lightroom to a specific folder containing a Lightroom data base.
In addition to all that stuff I just mentioned, there's another batch of critical data in the Lightroom catalog, and that's the location, or path to every image that you've imported into your Lightroom catalog. The actual image files that you import into Lightroom are not kept in the Lightroom catalog data base. They are no where in this folder. They are kept in their original format in folders on a hard drive attached to your computer. It might be an internal drive, it might be an external. In it's catalog file, Lightroom stores the location of each one of those files.
This means that you an have images in your Lightroom catalog that are stored across multiple folders on a drive, or even across multiple drives. In fact, you can have images in your Lightroom catalog stored on offline drives, and you can even perform a fair amount of editing on those offline images. Lightroom's catalogs are very economical in their use of space. To give you an idea of space requirements, I have a Lightroom catalog that contains roughly 78,000 images, and that takes up about 100 gigabytes of space, the catalog, a tenth of a terabyte.
A lot of those images are from cameras with very high pixel counts, so it's safe to say that Lightroom catalogs are pretty small. What's more, it takes a long time to amass tens of thousands of images, so if you're just starting out, your Lightroom catalog is going to be pretty small. Lightroom's architecture is incredibly flexible. It allows you to organize your images any way that you want to, which makes it easier to find things when you're working in Lightroom. But the ability to control where images are stored also makes it simple to design a workstation that you can easily expand, backup, share across a LAN, take on the road.
This is very important when it comes to defining a mobile workflow that works for you and your particular combination of devices and needs. When you're setting up your Lightroom system, you need to think about two different things, where you're going to store your Lightroom catalog, and where you're going to store your images. There are many different strategies you can take to answer these two questions, and over the next few movies, we're going to look at a few different strategies. Which one is right for you will depend on what devices you have, and what kind of devices you want to take into the field. There's one thing that all of these strategies have in common.
A need for speed. When you're working in Lightroom, your computer has to read and write data to its catalog file, while simultaneously reading data from your original image files. For smooth operation, you want all that to happen as quickly as possible. You can speed things up by not storing the catalog on the same volume as your image data. Drive choice can also have a big impact on performance. Choose the fastest hard drives you can afford, or use fast solid-state drives, or arrays of hard drives or solid-state drives. Pay attention to the connections that you use for external drives.
USB and Thunderbolt drives are faster than older USB-2 drives. Obviously CPU and graphics card power make a big difference, as well. Moving images made up of dozens of mega pixels is no small feat, so any bit of incremental performance improvement that you can muster will make a big difference. Before we dive into configuration and storage strategies, I want to do a quick review of file management in Lightroom, because there are some potentially tricky bits to it. I have a very simple catalog in Lightroom right now.
My catalog is managed entirely in this left-hand pane. And of course, I can collapse this to get it out of the way. Right now, it's set so that it opens when I mouseover here. I can also set it to just stay open. I have a category up at the top that just says catalog. It tells me that there are a total of 133 images in my library. Synced photographs is something we're going to look at later. Quick collection is simply a little album that I can use when I need to just throw a collection of images together for one reason or other. This is the last group of images that I imported.
I can collapse this, if I want to simplify my screen. This is the important part, when it comes to managing my Lightroom catalog. Folders. This shows every volume that contains Lightroom images. Here's my Macintosh HT, that's the internal drive. You see this thing called Warehouse. That's an external drive that I had connected at one point, but it doesn't actually contain any images. Right now, all of the images in my library are spread amongst three folders, California, Death Valley, and San Francisco. They're all stored on the Macintosh hard drive.
California has 34 images, Death Valley has 34 images, San Francisco has 50. If I open up California, I see that there are subfolders. 2015, 2016, and if I open those folders, I see that there are subfolders inside of there. When I import images into Lightroom, I have it separate images into subfolders by date. So it arranges all of these by date for me automatically. Obviously, it doesn't know what images go in California and what don't, so I defined this folder, it's defining all the ones inside.
Because that happens automatically, it's very, very easy for me to stay organized, by date, so I really like scheme. Inside of this folder are just a bunch of images, and I can see those here. If I open up 2015, that's not a good example, somewhere I have, here we go, in Death Valley under 2015, I have two different dates. I can click on this date to view only it, or I can click on 2015 to view everything in 2015. It is a very easy way to navigate, but it can be a little bit confusing, at times.
So there's this California folder, which is on Macintosh HD, but where is it really? If I look at this as a directory tree, you might think that California is in the root level of the directory, and it's not, it's actually in my pictures folder. Lightroom is not showing the enclosing folders. I think there's a good reason for this, which is that actually, there are a lot of enclosing folders, so how would it know how many to show. So it just shows only the folder that I've imported. If I right-click on this folder, I can see Show in Finder.
You see the same thing in Windows, it won't say Finder, but it will take you to that folder in your file browser. So you can see, here's my California folder. It's located in Pictures. I'm going to close this, just to get it out of the way. On the Mac I can Command, click on this to see the entire path. Here's my hard drive, then there's a folder called Users, then my Account Name, and then Pictures. So I'm actually several levels deep, again, that's why it doesn't bother to show me the entire file hierarchy. That would just create a bunch of extra stuff on my screen that I don't need.
Inside this California folder, I can see, sure enough, here are my folders by dates, and so on, and so forth. So it's important to know that folders can be enclosed by other folders. The reason I say that is because when we go to set up a certain folder later, this is going to be a problem for us, so I wanted you to understand that ahead of time. Another cool thing about this interface is, it is actually a file manager. I can move files around. So, as an example, I'm here in my California folder, and if I go look at this particular batch of images, these were actually all shot in San Francisco.
I would rather have these in my San Francisco folder. So I'm going to open up San Francisco, I have a 2016 folder here, also. I do not already have a January 4th entry down here, so I'm just going to pick up this entire folder and move it down to here. "Moving files on Disk. This will cause the corresponding files on disk to be moved." In other words, this is not just changing settings within the catalog, it is actually moving files. So again, this is what I mean when I say Lightroom is a file manager.
I'm going to hit move, it takes it a moment, and now this entry is down here. What's cool, is if I go out the Finder and say, "Show me the San Francisco folder," I will see that, sure enough, there is a January 4th entry. It did, in fact, move the files. I can even move folders to other drives. I don't have to look up an image in Lightroom, find it's corresponding folder, and then go back to my File Manager and move it where I want it. So this is an easy way of rearranging images as I add drives, or as I add more storage to a RAID, or something like that.
I can also move individual images within folders. If, for some reason, I decided that I wanted to move these images to another folder, I can just pick them up and drop them on another folder. It again warns me that I'm moving files. If you get tired of reading that, you can say, "Don't show again." And there you just saw the numbers here change, as it moved two files around. So this interface, small as it may be on the whole screen here, is actually very powerful. There's a lot that I do here. When I think about different organization schemes, or if I realize that I've imported something into the wrong place, I just move files around within Lightroom.
Again, understanding this or having some experience with this is going to become more important as we start thinking about how to set up Lightroom to properly organize images that are syncing in from our mobile devices. So with all that under your belt, we can now start talking about different configuration operations. Let's start with the easiest.
- Shooting raw with iOS and Android
- How Lightroom stores images
- Raw shooting
- iOS transfer
- Android transfer
- Importing images into Lightroom for mobile
- Editing raw images on a mobile device
- Exporting final images using Lightroom for mobile