Category Archives Lightroom


Over the past few weeks, I’ve been highlighting some of the those little improvements Adobe snuck into Lightroom 3 Public Beta. These aren’t the features that are going to get any big fanfare, but may wind up impacting your daily workflow more than you’d think by either removing frustration or simply making things easier (and I’m all for that).

The first one is a really helpful tweak they made to the Import Image window (which has been completely revamped in Lightroom 3, but it’s not about the redesign—it’s about one particular tweak).


Above: Previously, your only Import choice was lots of thumbnails.


Now you can zoom in for a much larger preview to check sharpness, details, etc.

#1 The first tweak is that you now get some of the same preview functionality in the Import Window before you import the photos, that normally you wouldn’t get until after images are imported into Lightroom. Here’s what I mean: if you double-click on a thumbnail in the Import window, it now zooms into full size. Click again, it zooms in even tighter. Press the letter “G” and you’re back to the thumbnail Grid. This is really handy if you’re trying to find just one or two images you want to import from a shoot, or quickly check the sharpness of a photo to see if you even want to import it at all. Now, back in Lightroom 2, you could get a little larger view by increasing the size of all the thumbnails, but it was el-clunk-a-roonie. This is much better (and more consistent).

#2 The second tweak is actually something that helps new users probably more than anyone else, but it probably will save us all a click or two when we go Export our photos to JPEGs, TIFFs, etc. In the Export window, at the top of the window, is now a clearly visible pop-up menu that lets you choose whether you’re saving your images to disc, or burning them to a CD.


The little menu up top is now so obvious, actual users may find it!

This feature was actually in Lightroom 2, but it was hidden way over on the right side—I know it doesn’t look like a menu, but click and hold on it—and the default was to burn a disc, rather than saving to your computer. Again, it’ll probably help new users a lot (and I’ve gotten a lot of emails over the years about it), so I’m glad they made this feature “More Discoverable” (which is Adobe-speak for “now it’s not hidden”).

By the way—while we’re on the topic of Hiding things; there’s one feature in Photoshop that is so hidden, yet so important, that I can’t believe after all these years they’re still hiding it. It’s the button that Resets your current tool to it’s default settings. I get asked how to do this all the time, because if you didn’t know this feature was hidden there, you’d never find it.


Above: Here’s how you’d imagine this reset button would appear in the Options Bar
(way too easy for users to find).


Above: here’s what you actually have to do in Photoshop to find this hidden Reset button. You have to Ctrl-click (PC: Right-click) on the little down-facing arrow to the right of the Tool Presets pop-up menu in the top left corner of the Toolbar (as shown here).


Above: ….and from the pop-up menu that now appears (shown below), you can choose Reset Tool, or Reset All Tools.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Scott, what’s the big deal about having to right-click on that button? That doesn’t look so complicated.” You’re right—It’s not—as long as you already know to click that button in the first place. That’s the “gotcha!” Most users don’t know that (how would they?).

So, if anybody out there in Adobeland is reading this, and you feel like making life a little better for everybody, but especially for new Photoshop users, I hope you guys consider this little improvement for the next version of Photoshop. :)

Last week when I ran my “10 Things I wish I Could Tell New Lightroom Users” post (link), one of the 10 things I talked about was using Collections rather than Folders, and I had a number of follow-up questions on my collections workflow, so I thought I’d break it out a bit here. Here’s what I do:


STEP ONE: Make a Collection Set
Immediately after importing my photos into Lightroom, I go to the Collections panel and from the pop-out menu I choose “New Collection Set”, as shown above (which is kind of like a big folder I can put other collections inside to stay organized. It’s empty at this point, just like when you create a new folder on your computer). I’ll name this Collection Set “Tuscany.”

STEP TWO: Deleting the obvious mistakes
Before I do anything else, I quickly scroll through the images I just imported and delete any images that are obviously mistakes (Ones that are totally out of focus, or solid black, or shots where I accidentally took a shot of my foot, or the ground, or anything that so bad that even as a small thumbnail I can tell—-this needs to be deleted now).


STEP THREE: Create a “Full Shoot” Collection
Now that the obviously bad ones have been deleted (from Lightroom, and from my hard disc), I Select All, then press Command-N (PC: Ctrl-N) to put all the photos into a new collection (as shown above). When the New Collection dialog appears, I make sure this new collection appears within the Collection Set I created in the previous step.


STEP FOUR: Find the Winners and Losers
I double-click on the first image (to enlarge the size), then I press Shift-Tab (to hide all the panels), then I press the letter “L” twice. This puts my photo center screen, with a black background around my photo, so all the distractions are out of the way. Now I use the right arrow keys to move through the images to mark just two things: (1) Which ones are so bad that they should be deleted [really bad ones I missed when just looking at small thumbnails), and (2) The really good shots from the shoot—-ones the client might actually see.

STEP FIVE: Separate the Best Shots
I turn on the filter so only the ones I marked as really good are showing. Now I do a “Select All” and put those in their own collection called “Picks.” At this point, inside my main Tuscany Collection Set I have two Collections:

(1) The Full Shoot (minus the really bad ones)
(2) Picks (the keepers—the ones that could possibly wind up being seen by the client)

STEP SIX: Narrow it down to just the very Best Shots
I don’t want to send my client 80 or 90 photos—–I’d rather do the photo editing and edit things down to the best of the best. Maybe 15 or 20 shots max (more likely, less). So, I go through the Picks collection and find the very best ones, and mark them as so.


STEP SEVEN: One Last Collection of “The best of the Best”
Then I turn the filter on again to just show those I marked as the best. I Select All and put them into a Collection, and name it “Selects.” These are the ones I email to the client, or post in a Web gallery for them to proof. Now I have three collections inside my Collection Set (as seen above).

How this works for me:

(1) If I want to see all the shots from this shoot, I’m one click away—I click “Full Shoot”
(2) If I want to see just the good shots—the keepers–I click “Picks”
(3) But most of the time, all I really care about in the future are the very best shots from that day—-so I click “Selects”

If I’m shooting an event, like a Wedding, or Sporting Event, I use the same basic idea, but I use more Collections inside my Collection Set (as shown below).


Now, you could actually break these groups of three info their own Collection Sets inside the Collection Set, which I sometimes do, but since they all appear together (thanks to the magic of alphabetizing), I don’t have to (but again, sometimes I still do. If things gets crazy [lots of collections] then I usually do).

Well, there you have it—a look at how I arrange my own Collections in Lightroom. This obviously won’t work for everybody, but I’ve tried a number of different options, and for me this way is quick, simple, and consistent. Also, using this method is much, much faster than it looks here in print—the whole process moves along really quickly, and gets you down to the ones you’ll actually show the client (or your friends) very quickly.

I hope that answers at least some of the questions from last week. :)


P.S. I’m teaching my “Photoshop for Digital Photographers” tour today in Tampa, so I won’t be able to answer any questions until later this evening, but during the lunch break I will take at look at your comments.

I got the idea for this post from an excellent post from Rob Sylvan (Rob is one of our Photoshop Help Desk gurus, as well as a Lightroom author and instructor), called “10 Things I Wish I Could Tell Every New Lightroom User.”

Rob’s article ran on Scott Bourne’s must-visit site, and he had lots of really great tips for new users (here’s the direct link). I thought his idea was brillliant, and I sat down and started thinking about what I would tell new users, and then I thought I oughta do a similar post (with a different list of ten).

I was thinking of using a different name for mine, but then Rob wound up coming to to my Boston “Photoshop for Digital Photographers” seminar, and afterward he even gave me a ride to the airport. During that ride to the airport, although we didn’t talk about his post, I felt that somehow there was an implicit permission to run with his idea [ ;-) ] so with apologies (and full credit) to Rob (and Scott Bourne), here’s my own list, called:.

10 Things I Would Tell New Lightroom Users:


(1) Use Solo Mode To Tame All Those Panels
New users can get really flustered by scrolling up and down the list of open panels in Lightroom, which is why you should turn on “Solo Mode.” That way, the only panel you’ll see is the one you’re working on (and the rest all automatically collapse). This not only saves time, but cuts the clutter big time, and makes it easier to focus on just what you’re working with. You turn this on by Ctrl-clicking (PC: Right-clicking) on the title of any panel and choose “Solo Mode” from the pop-up menu that appears.


(2) Use Collections instead of Folders
Folders are where the actual photos you imported from a particular shoot are stored. Your good photos from that shoot, bad photos—the whole ball of wax. But once we import photos, are most of us really care about are the good ones, and that’s why Collections were invented (well, it’s one of the reasons anyway). Matt and I always joke that “Folders are where we go when we want to see the shots that weren’t any good” because we put all our “keepers” in a collection right away. Collections are safe, and will keep most users out of trouble.

(3) Store all your photos inside one main folder
You can have as many sub-folders inside that one main folder as you want, but if you want to have peace, calm, and order in your Lightroom, the key is not to import photos from all over your computer. Choose one main folder (like your Pictures folder on a Mac, or your My Pictures folder on a Windows PC), and put all your photos inside that folder. THEN import them into Lightroom (and if you’re importing from a memory card, have those images copied from the card info a folder within your main folder). Plus, this makes backing up your image library a breeze. Every time I run into someone who’s Lightroom life is a mess, it’s because they didn’t follow this one simple rule. Also, if you’re working on a laptop, it’s totally fine to store your photos on an external drive, rather than on your laptop.

(4) Do as much work in Lightroom as possible
I now do about 80% of my work in Lightroom in itself, and I only go over to Photoshop in case of an emergency, or to do something that Lightroom just can’t do (like collaging images with layers, or creating professional level type, or using the pen tool, applying certain filters, etc.).. You can do an amazing amount of your everyday work within Lightroom’s Develop Module (especially since the addition of the Adjustment Brush and Gradient Filter). So, take the time to learn these tools, and you will speed your workflow (and simplify your life) in ways you can’t imagine, by staying in Lightroom as much as possible.


(5) Create Presets and Templates whenever possible
The key to working efficiently in Lightroom is to make Presets and Templates for the things you do every day (even though a lot of users never take the few seconds it takes to create even one). If you find yourself making a particular edit more than just a couple of times; make a Develop Module preset for it, so it’s always just one click away. Have a printing set-up you use pretty often? Save it as a template. Once you start making presets and templates, your efficiency will go through the roof. Unless you’re charging by the hour, this is how to up your ROI big time!

Save as JPEG

(6) How to Save Your Image as a JPEG
Matt reminded me about this one and it’s a good one, because I get asked this question again and again at my Lightroom seminars. It’s because it’s not totally obvious how to do it, because there is no “Save As” or even just “Save” command under the File Menu (like almost every other app on earth). If you do go under the File menu, you’ll find four different Export commands, but none of them say “Export as JPEG” so again—it’s not real obvious. However, you can just choose the one called “Export,” when the dialog appears, you’ll have the Option to save your selected image (or images) as a JPEG.

Auto Hide

(7) Turn off Auto Show for panels
I get more emails from new Lightroom users asking if there’s a way to turn off this “feature” than you can stick a shake at. I have users literally begging me; “Please tell me there’s a way to stop the panels from popping in and out on me all day long!” Thankfully, there is; Ctrl-click (PC: Right-click) on the little arrows on the center edge of each panel. A pop-up menu will appear—-just choose “Manual” and now the panels will only open when you click on that little arrow (or if you press the F-key keyboard shortcuts [F5 to show/hide the top navigation panel. F6 for the filmstrip at the bottom. F7 for the left side panels, and F8 for the right side panels], or if you press the Tab key it will hide all the panels).

(8) Throw away your old backups
If you back-up your catalogs on a regular basis (once a day, or weekly) before long you’re going to have a whole bunch of back-ups stored on your computer. After a while, if you’ve got a lot of photos, those old outdated back-ups are going to start eating up a lot of space on your hard disc, so go to your backups folder and delete the ones that are more than a couple of weeks old. After all, if your catalog got messed up, would you want to go back months in time, or last week? Right—those old ones are pretty much useless.

New cat
(9) It’s OK to have multiple Catalogs
You don’t have to keep everything in just one catalog—-you can create as many catalogs as you want (and you might want to create multiple catalogs if you’re going to have more than 40,000 or 50,000 images in one catalog). For example, I have separate catalogs for portraits, for family photos, for travel photos, for sports photos, for weddings, and so on. I know a wedding photographer that creates a brand new fresh catalog for every wedding he shoots. He likes the speed and cleanliness of of a fresh catalog with nothing it in but the photos from that one particular wedding. Creating a new fresh, empty catalog is easy—just go under the File menu and choose New Catalog (don’t worry—it doesn’t erase your old catalog—it just saves and closes it). To open one of your previously open catalogs, just go under Lightroom’s File menu and choose Open Recent.
(10) Ask yourself whether you need lots of keywords or not
We were all originally taught to invest a reasonable amount of time adding global and specific keywords (search terms) to all the photos we import. If you’re selling stock photography, this is an absolute must, and if you have a client base that might call you up and ask, “Send me all your photos of red car, and they need to all be in vertical orientation, and I only need one’s where you can see the driver, and the driver has to be female” then you’ll want to keyword like a pro. However, if you’re just keeping track of the photos from your vacation to Paris last year, you might not need to go through all your photos and assign keywords. Ask yourself this question: When was the last time I couldn’t find the photos I need by just going to my Collections panel? If you’re not having problems getting your hands on the photos you need in just seconds, you might be able to skip all the keywording stuff. I’m not telling you not to keyword—I’m just asking you to consider whether you need to add a bunch of keywords or not, because most users probably don’t need many (or any). [Code: IAARRWTAW]

So there ya have it—-the 10 Things I would Tell new Lightroom Users. Thanks again to Rob Sylvan for the original idea (and to Scott Bourne for publishing Rob’s original post), and I hope those 10 ideas (along with Rob’s) help to make your Lightroom life easier.


OK, this isn’t the biggest fix in Lightroom 3, nor the most important fix, or even a fix that most folks would even notice at first, but it’s one of those little things that has annoyed me since Lightroom 1, and now instead of grimacing each time I see it, now I smile.

They changed it so the “Backup Catalog” dialog box, which used to appear when you launch Lightroom—-now only appears when you Quit, which to me just makes so much sense. I always felt having it show up when you first launched Lightroom was kind of like asking you to Save a blank document right when you first open it (even though I know what we’re doing isn’t technically ‘saving;’ we’re backing up the catalog, but I’d rather back-up the catalog after I’ve been working on it for hours—-not before I even start).

Anyway, I’m not sure how many of you noticed (or even cared), but I’d just like to throw out a “Yeah Baby!” to whomever made the call at Adobe to move this feature so it only appears when you Quit Lightroom.  (Code: IAARRWTNWIW).


Yup—it’s true! Lightroom 3 is here! (Well, the free public beta version is here, anyway).

Of course to get you up to speed fast on all the cool new goodies in Beta 3, NAPP (The National Assn. of Photoshop Professionals) has put together a Lightroom 3 Beta Learning Center, with videos from Matt Kloskowski and me, along with articles and info from RC Concepcion, and an exclusive video interview with Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty.

Also, later today look for Matt’s “Lightroom 3 Beta Power Session” full training class to go live on Kelby Training, which teaches all the new features in depth, and how they relate to, and update your current Lightroom workflow.

Now, all that being said—just remember—this is a pre-release Beta testing version, so it’s far from the final finished product (if history is any indicator, when the real version ships, it will have more features, and lots of other improvements), so just remember—this is not a “finished” product, but a early testing version they’re letting you use for free to get your feedback before they release the shipping product at a later date.

So, definitely go to our Lightroom 3 Learning Center to get the full scoop (here’s the link), but in the meantime, here’s a 30-second look at some of my favorite stuff in the public beta:

(1) Importing has been redesigned with a new import window that lets you easily see where your images are coming from and where they’re going, with lots of little improvements and enhancements to make the process easier and much more visual.

(2) Drag and Drop Publishing to the Web (and more). Now you can just drag and drop an image to have it automatically published directly from Lightroom right up to Flickr, or directly to an iPhone sync folder, etc..

(3) Pro-level Noise Reduction. This is an area that Lightroom always lagged behind on, but now they have real pro-level noise reduction which competes, or beats, about anything out there (especially because it can do its noise reduction at the Raw file level, rather than on a processed 8-bit file).

(4) Built-in Film Grain feature. There’s been a lot of buzz recently about bringing back that film-grain look, and now that’s built right in.

(5) Better vignetting by a long shot. They really enhanced the post crop vignetting, and now post crop gives you a much better looking, and more natural result (and you have two choices for the type of vignetting effect as well).

(6) You can finally (finally, finally!!!!!) export a slideshow with music embedded in the slideshow (at last), and you can have your slideshow automatically sync the length of the slideshow to the length of your song. Plus, they made it so, on a Mac, you don’t need to use iTunes to host your slideshow music.

(7) Real watermarking is here! Now you can create real watermarks, at different sizes and opacities, and put them where you want them, for both web and print.

(8) Create print layouts with photos wherever you want them. Now there’s a Custom Print Package feature that lets you put as many photos, in whatever shape and size, on the page wherever you want them (you’re no longer restricted to use a grid of uniform cells), so now you can really come up with some creative print layouts without having your hands tied.

(9) You can change the background color for prints. Now you can choose any color as your background for printed pages. I know it sounds like a little thing, but it’s big.

(10) The Collections panel is now in the Develop Module, too. This one addition will dramatically increase your efficiency because now you don’t have to constantly switch back and forth between the Library Module and Develop Module, because you can get to all your collections and images from right within the Develop Module itself.

Plus, there are dozens of other little enhancements, fixes, improvements, and other little features which are scattered throughout the program—-but just remember—-it’s not done yet! (So don’t start posting questions like, “Why isn’t this feature or that feature not there?” because (say it with me, “It’s not done!”).

Now, go check out NAPP’s Learning Center, (link) where you’ll find a direct link to download the free public beta of Lightroom 3 direct from Adobe Labs. Sweet!!!! It’s a great day for Lightroom users!

P.S. Terry White, over at Terry’s Tech Blog has a video on Lightroom 3 Beta as well. Here’s the link.

Good Friday morning everyone!  Brad here, filling in for Scott today.

As I was driving into work, I got a call from Scott telling me how much he was looking forward to his Lightroom seminar in Livonia today, and how smoothly everything was running.  While we were talking, I asked, “By the way, was today’s no blog Friday intentional?”

“Oh no! I forgot!!  Can you put up a post letting everyone know what happened?  I just got so wrapped up in prepping for today’s seminar that it slipped my mind!”

So there you have it… The thrilling story of how today became “No. Blog. FRIDAY.”

Speaking of Lightroom, Rob Sylvan (who happens to be one of our Photoshop World moderators) has a great post up over on the Photo Focus blog called “10 Things I Wish I Could Tell Every New Lightroom User.”  Swing by there and check that out as it’s full of great tips for new users, and reminders for experienced users.

That’s it for today!  Have a great weekend!