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The Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

By D.A. Wagner | August 29, 2014 |

If you’ve ever attempted to use the Spot Removal Tool to clone out anything bigger than a piece of sensor dust, you already know Lightroom does a lousy job cloning big areas. In fact, it can make things look much worse than when you started. Lightroom’s Spot Removal Tool lacks finesse and works in the complete opposite of Photoshop’s Rubber Stamp cloning tool. I’ve mentioned this function reversal with the Radial Gradient in an earlier post.

So, what’s the cloning difference between Photoshop and Lightroom?

Photoshop allows you to choose your source (the section of the image you want to copy and paint with elsewhere) and then you choose the destination (the stuff you want to hide with what you just copied) and gives you a paintbrush for some control. To me, that’s logical thinking. But maybe that’s what nearly 20 years of working with Photoshop will do to you.

Lightroom has you working in the opposite. Instead of choosing your source first, you choose the destination – i.e. the thing you want to hide – and, instead of a brush they give you a hammer (disclaimer – Lightroom does not really come with a hammer tool). And, geez, Lightroom chooses the destination for you. What makes Lightroom think a street foreground is a good blend with an out of focus doorway? Yes, Lightroom allows you to adjust your source and destination but it’s not Photoshop by any stretch of the imagination.

Arrrrgggghhhh! But don’t give up. You can work wonders with the Spot Removal Tool with a little patience and practice. Well, maybe a lot of patience and practice, especially in the beginning. But it’s possible to make it work quite well once you get the hang of it.

I had only a couple of seconds to catch this fantastic photograph of two accordion players walking down the street in Florence, Italy with my Nikon D800E. But there’s an unwanted pedestrian crossing the street in the background and here’s how I got rid of him…


Finding Missing Lightroom Photos and Relink Them

By D.A. Wagner | August 14, 2014 |

Lightroom is not fun when you can’t find your photos.

And one of the most difficult and frustrating challenges is finding missing Lightroom photos and relinking them. There are a fair number of tutorials on this, but missing images rarely will be found in the same folder as where they were originally located, which is what most tutorials cover. That’s waaaaay to easy. You usually lose (or shall we say “misplace”) images because they were moved outside of Lightroom (we won’t say by whom) using your Finder or Explorer – if you’re on a PC.  So finding and reconnecting the file is only the start, then locating where the photo ended up and moving it back to its proper folder and linking it is the finish – and the process can be confusing.

My video attempts to explain how to identify missing files, locate and reconnect them to the Lightroom library. I also have some useful suggestions to find those reconnected images because strange things happen when you reconnect files that are no longer in the same folder as your original import. Trying to simplify the step-by-step process of finding and relinking missing photos has been challenging. There’s no one way to do it and everyone’s library is different. So, consider this video tutorial a suggested serving…

If this video has helped you, please leave a comment and if something wasn’t clear, let me know, too!


Adding Folder Names To Dated Folders After Importing Into Lightroom

By D.A. Wagner | August 8, 2014 |

Lightroom – Dated Folders vs. Titled Folders – I’ll take both, please…

If you’ve watched my previous post on importing into the Lightroom Library, you know that I recommend importing your photos into Lightroom with dated folders. Once you’re back in the Lightroom library, this is the next step – naming your folders while keeping the date up front.

I know, there are two camps on naming folders: one for importing into folders by date and one for importing into folders with names. But I hate having to choose one over the other and wondering when I took took the photos or what’s in the folder.  Working both camps makes the most sense, dated folders with names to identify the contents. Here’s how in this short, two-minute video tutorial about adding descriptions to your dated folders in the Lightroom library.


The Lightroom Library Mystery Part 4

By D.A. Wagner | August 5, 2014 |

Or, Lightroom Guy’s Completely Over Explained and Over Simplified Method of Importing Photos and Maintaining the Lightroom Library

Part 4 – The Finale

Soooooo many LR users have struggled with lost files and keeping their libraries organized that even Adobe now has a warning at the very beginning of the Workflows chapter, in the Lightroom PDF manual:

“Important: When importing for the first time, think through how you want to organize your photos and where you plan to store them before you start to import. Planning ahead can help minimize the need to move photos later and possibly lose track of them in your catalog.”

And, lose track we do. Ah, but do they tell you how to do this? Nope. Nor do they tell you how to fix it if things get screwed up. I meet most of my new students because of this. Adobe assumes everyone knows how to come up with a plan to organize his or her photos. We don’t. And, just for the record, when I started with LR five years ago, boy did I screw up! It used to be that all my photos were in a file cabinet where I had clues as where things were: a bent file hanger, a yellow highlighter, an oddball brand of file folder I bought on a rainy Sunday or even a label written with a sharpie instead of a pen could get me where I wanted. That kind of human quality is something that no one has yet invented for the digital world.

I only use ONE catalog for everything and recommend it for everyone, even pros. Why? Because keeping multiple catalogs can turn your library into thousands of missing images. And, while I love meeting new students, repairing and organizing Lightroom catalogs instead of teaching Lightroom processing techniques is never much fun for anyone. I’d much prefer to get down to the art of Lightroom processing.

Importing From Start to Finish

I’ve tried not to get sidetracked with all of the available Lightroom options, but rather to demonstrate a simple method of importing that sustains an organized library, import after import. Truly, it’s taken me years of repairing LR libraries to figure this out. I hope that sharing this with you helps!

Here are Lightroom Guy’s 7 rules to an organized and secure library:

  1. Create ONE master Lightroom catalog and keep it in your Pictures folder, not your desktop – this means all your images will be in one place
  2. Always import into the same folder or hard drive location
  3. Import your Lightroom images to a dedicated external hard drive if possible, otherwise import them to the Pictures folder with your master Lightroom catalog
  4. Always use the 2014/05-19 dating format and, after importing, add names to the folders without deleting the dates – doing this will maintain a chronological folder structure by year, month and date
  5. Create an Import Preset and use it every time you import to guarantee your images are imported to the same place every time – this way you won’t loose track of your images
  6. NEVER, EVER move or delete any files or folders outside of Lightroom. Ever! If you do, I guarantee that Lightroom will loose your images.
  7. Finally, back up your entire computer and your external hard drive daily! I recommend Carbon Copy Cloner – It’s saved my @$$ more than a few times

Remember, there are only two kinds of computer users: those who have lost data and those who will.

P.S. Don’t forget to look at the previous postings of The Lightroom Library Mystery Parts 1, 2 and 3!

The Lightroom Library Mystery Part 3

By D.A. Wagner | July 23, 2014 |

Or, Lightroom Guy’s Completely Over Explained and Over Simplified Method of Importing Photos and Maintaining the Lightroom Library – Part 3

Even though the Image Preview Area seems pretty straight forward, there’s a lot going on and you can save time and dodge the frustrations of unintentionally importing duplicates into your library. This third part of the series shows more of my Lightroom importing methods that keep my students (professionals and amateurs alike) organized and frustration free. These two videos illustrate a few more ways to do that.

NOTE: Keep in mind that I am using the latest version of Lightroom, 5.5, recently renamed by Adobe to Lightroom CC. The features and behaviors of earlier versions of Lightroom may differ.

The first video is important enough that I’ve separated it from the Image Preview tutorial as a stand alone video. If you frequently add photos to your library from a memory card and then put that memory card back in your camera and shoot more photos, you may have experienced the problem of adding duplicate photos to your library. The “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” checkbox prevents this from happening. All too often, somehow, we don’t know who or what sneaks over, turns on our computer, opens Lightroom and unchecks this on us, but it happens. And when it does, we start importing the same images over and over again wondering, what’s going on?

Setting the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” checkbox

There are many ways to skin a cat or, in this case, view an image in while in Lightroom’s Import dialog.

Using the Image Preview Area of the Lightroom Import Dialog

Here are a few things to remember when working in the Import Dialog:

1. It’s easy to forget you’re in the Import Dialog and not in the Lightroom Library where you can develop or mark photos with flags, colors or stars. You can’t!

2. If you just bought the latest and the greatest new digital camera, the manufacturer will likely have changed their camera raw formula to the latest and greatest proprietary camera raw which Adobe probably has not yet updated Lightroom to recognize. In this case you will see a “Preview Unavailable for this Image” in each frame where a preview should be.

Lightroom Raw Unavailable

Adobe will usually update their Adobe Camera Raw (also known as ACR) to recognize it in the next version of Lightroom. In the meantime, consider checking your camera manufacturer’s website for their software until Adobe catches up. It’s a real pain, but this is the way it works. The workaround is usually going to the Adobe site and downloading the latest Camera Raw Converter, a stand-alone program which they usually update first. You can find the latest Camera Raw Converter Here.

In the next episode of the Lightroom Library Mystery I will tackle the Big Kahuna, the Import Destination Panel and creating an organized library.

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