Well, actually it’s at least 3-photo tips for this Friday (we do these every week – have been for a long time — if you follow KelbyOne on Facebook, you’ll see them every Friday, even when I don’t blog about ’em). In fact, there’s a new tip there today that I’m not featuring here, so when you’re done with these, head over to catch today’s new tip. Here we go:
We’ll start with a very clever tip from KelbyOne Instructor Dave Cross:
Dave’s new KelbyOne course on Photoshop selections is right here (ya know, in case you’re so inclined).
OK, here’s a nice one for Wacom tablet users from KelbyOne Instructor Erik Valind:
If you’re digging that, check out Erik’s class on Active Lifestyle portaits. Ready for another one? This one’s from KelbyOne Instructor Gabriel Biderman:
Thanks, Gabe! By the way (ahem…) Gabe’s awesome class on nighttime photography is right here.
Well, folks — there ya have it. Some Friday Photo Tip love.
Here’s wishing you an awesome weekend! :)
P.S. If you’re looking for a new class to watch this weekend, Today we’re releasing my new class: “Scott Kelby’s ‘Seven Point System’ for Lightroom” — an expanded version of what I taught on my live “Shoot Like a Pro Tour” and if you’re a KelbyOne member, you can go watch it right now (or, at the very least, I hope you’ll check it out this weekend). If you’re not a KelbyOne member yet, take the 10-day free trial and you can start watching it immediately.
My name is Joe Glyda and I am a commercial photographer specializing in food photography.
I would like to thank Scott for inviting me to be a guest on his blog. This year marks my 40th year as a commercial food photographer. Yes, I am one of those photographers that worked my way through the darkroom and started my career using 4×5, 8×10, and 11×14 Deardorf view cameras that used film.
The one thing I loved about shooting film was, ‘the set’ had to be ready and complete before the film was loaded into the camera. There wasn’t “I’ll just fix it in Photoshop.” Getting it all put together in one shot and looking at the subject upside down and backwards taught me to see the food ‘as a subject’ very differently. Painstaking details went into every shot, as Polaroids were used to get the test shot done, before exposing the film. But seeing that transparency on the light box was extremely rewarding.
I thought I would talk a little about my favorite subject, Food Photography. The unique aspect about commercial/food photography is that it’s ALL about the product. It’s NOT about you the photographer and your style, or your vision. It’s about the client’s vision, who in turn, hires an art director to come up with an approved layout and make the product be the hero. It then becomes the photographer’s responsibility to engage in a conversation with the art director and concur on a plan of action.
In other words, ask questions, LISTEN, then solve the problem.
Engage in a conversation prior to the photo session. Do not wait until the art director shows up to start setting up. Be prepared and ready to go. Do some testing to get yourself familiar with the product that’s about to be photographed ahead of time.
One of the key elements in food photography is finding the products with the right elements of detail that work with all the other elements in the photo. So, in the case of this print ad, what seemed to be an easy shot ended up taking a dozen cheese wedges and twice as many Polaroids to create the cut marks on the cheese wedge so they fell exactly under where the package artwork was to be placed. The client wanted the package to represent the natural look and flavor of real Cheddar cheese. Knowing what the client wants is so very important before the camera is even set-up.
That doesn’t mean photographers can’t have their own ideas or be able to contribute an idea regarding the images. At first, it’s important to leave your personal vision at the door. What I mean is, waiting for the right opportunity to share your ideas with the art director or client, after learning what the vision of the product is. Don’t be afraid to talk to the art director. Take an AD to lunch. Share ideas with them.
This image was part of a year-long campaign which stemmed from a lunch appointment with an AD who just finished meeting the client from Cracker Barrel Cheese. We talked about the client’s needs to make their snacking product look different and more trendy. Polaroid transfers were very popular at the time, so I suggested to shoot the real food on a Polaroid of an empty plate. The art director drew up layouts and our collaboration was a success.
When shooting multiple dishes, it is crucial to work with a prop stylist. They have resources beyond the photographers’ prop room. They tend to watch trends and have a pulse on what’s hot and what’s not. It’s also important to know what foods will last on the set longer than others, especially with multiple dishes. In this case, it was the spaghetti sauce that was put in place last so the sauce wouldn’t run through the tortellini.
In 1986, I witnessed my first retouching job on a Scitex Response-300 computer and knew right then that I had to get into digital technology. By 1993, I was using a Kodak DCS 460 digital camera and stopped using film by 1995. I helped convert the Kraft Foods in-house photography department from film completely over to digital by 1999. I wanted to have more control over the quality of the final image using the digital process. With the art director on set, we could see instantaneously together what we were getting, and make sure the color and direction was correct. Color management in food photography is so important. Food products have a certain color and their companies pay extra to make sure their products are not falsely advertised.
I use an X-rite color checker before every shot series to ensure the color is correct. Changing the color checker every time the light source changes is very important. This will ensure that the color of the food is right on.
Even though Photoshop 2 was a big part of the digital process, at the time, I continued to have the mind set of getting things done on set, prior to engaging the camera. I used the digital technology to my advantage whenever possible. It helped me create these images using digital fire in a campfire scene, and digital water from a pool on the deck while still having full control in the studio. Then creating outdoor lighting effects on the food to match the digital images made them look like they were photographed on-location.
Working with a food stylist is a must when working with food products. The job of a food photographer is lighting, composition, and the technical aspect of the photo session. The food stylist’s responsibility is to make sure the food looks good for the camera. They get the camera position in relationship to the plate from the photographer, and then position the food on the plate to make the food look its best. Dummy food is usually used during the set-up. Dummy food is a representation of the hero food but not yet styled. This helps the photographer light the food and create the composition needed to make the food look great. In this case, the soup was replaced by a salad and the sandwich direction was changed once the client saw the dummy food shot.
My favorite foods to photograph are desserts, for the obvious reason, they taste the best. They tend to be difficult to maneuver around the set during the set-up, but once the hero food is placed on the set, the shot is taken quickly before the food dies. My lens of choice is a Nikkor 100mm macro lens, and in some cases I love to use a bellows attached to my Nikon D800. It brings the texture and details of the food to the forefront. And the clients are thrilled because it shows off their product.
Another kind of food photography that I enjoy doing is packaging photography. It takes more patience because the image needs to FIT in between words, logos, or call-out flags. If there are multiple products, they all have to fit together like a family! Usually in this situation the camera angle is locked down so the position of the image stays the same throughout the series of shots. Notice the color under the plates on these packages change but the plate position does not.
Styles and trends, like in fashion, come and go in food photography. It’s important to watch how these trends influence the images across all media. Over the past year, straight down shots have been the angle of choice. Panera, Qdoba, and Starbucks are a few companies changing their look to this elevated level. I just had a client this month that wanted to see their cake recipe from this angle, and they loved it!
Even some of the car companies are now using this look and some say that it’s because of the increase of drone photography that has inspired the look. But I guarantee you, this trend is not new. It was very popular in the late 80’s, and here is one of my shots of asparagus I did in 1988. I remember an art director back then, saying after meeting with a client, “Do they really want to shoot from above again? I’m tired of this angle” Watch for the new trend to take over, and believe me, it will.
Finally, the secret to good food photography is backlight. The food looks best when the shadow falls under the front of the food to act as a base for the food to sit on. The light from behind the food creates a highlight effect along the top and back edge of the food to give the food a heroic effect. Fill cards are used to bounce the backlight back into the front of the food, creating a soft and pleasing appetizing appearance.
In summary, remember these five steps when working with food:
Listen to the client, It’s ALL about the product, not you!
Talk to the art director, engage in discussion about the project prior to the session, don’t wait till the day of the shoot.
Use a color management system to get accurate color.
Hire a professional food stylist. (and a prop stylist when necessary)
Backlight most food subjects for ultimate results.
Using these simple ideas will make your food images more appetizing and give the illusion that they are jumping off the page.
It was just a couple of months ago when Kalebra called us all together to share her idea of showcasing the work of our KelbyOne members — to lift them up and help them reach a wider audience — and give them a solo gallery showing and a live broadcast to share their work with other people around the world. Of course, step one was — build an art gallery, and with the help of a lot of wonderful folks, it all came together in seemingly no time. Saturday night, we were thrilled to be able to cut the ribbon (see below) on “The Gallery at KelbyOne”— a place where our members’ work would be celebrated and showcased in openings just like this all year long.
After nearly 1,000 submissions from around the world, our judges chose the photographic work of Sonoma, California graphic designer Mark Wegner to open the gallery. We flew Mark and his lovely wife Carol in for a wine and cheese reception in the gallery on Saturday night, followed by a one-on-one interview with Mark about his work, his life, and his vision. It was such an inspiring, fun evening with Larry Becker hosting the presentation/interview (and of course, Larry was just marvelous).
I’m going to share some behind-the-scenes images from Saturday (below), but I wanted to give a special shoutout to the folks at Bay Photo Lab, who graciously not only provided the beautiful prints (and they were gorgeous), but also their clever mounting and exhibition system called “Xpozer” which couldn’t have been a better fit for our gallery, or for displaying Mark’s beautiful images. We had so many questions about the printing and mounting, that we were literally doing demo’s to the guests to show how it all works. Very clever (thank you Bay Photo — you guys rock!).
Here’s a peek behind the scenes (I’ll tell a bit more of the story in the captions — photos by Melvin Rodriguez unless otherwise noted):
Above:Cutting the ribbon to officially open “The Gallery at KelbyOne” (L to R: Jean A. Kendra, yours truly, Kalebra Kelby, our featured artist Mark Wegner, and our host for the evening, Larry Becker).
Above:A couple admiring one of my favorite’s of Mark’s images — his dramatic black and white shot of a Bison.
Above:Mark chatting with some of our guests in the gallery.
Above:One of our guests (far left) peeks behind one of the prints to see how they’re mounted.
Above:Lots of wonderful cheeses and wines on hand for our guests as they head into the gallery. When you first enter the gallery, we have a collection of photographic work from our KelbyOne instructors on display.
Above:Giving some love to BayPhoto for their awesome prints and mounting system.
Above:Mmmmmm. Cheese. :)
Above:A few scenes from Mark’s opening.
Above:Mark chatting with guests about his work.
Above:We opened the video area so guests could take a peek at the KelbyOne Studios and the sets we use for everything from training classes to live webcasts and even the set of “The Grid” (both the new one, and the classic set which is still intact for a few more weeks).
Above:After the reception, we moved into the KelbyOne theatre to learn more about Mark and his wonderful work. This is me briefly welcoming the crowd as I introduce Larry Becker, our host for the evening, and our featured artist, Mark Wegner.
Above: Larry and Mark begin their chat, streamed live all over the world.
Above:Larry was such a great host. Such a great wit, but also, so great at getting the most out of his guests. It made for a very inspiring night.
Above:Mark shared so many great insights, tips, and he was funny, clever, and such an inspiring artist.
Above:Mark talked about a number of his pieces in the gallery and what went into making them.
Above:A little behind-the-scenes from the production side of things. That’s Leighton on the jib crane camera.
Above:The chemistry between Larry and Mark really made the talk captivating.
Above:It was the perfect setting for such an intimate talk with the artist, and before you knew it, it was time to say goodnight.
Above:Larry looks on as Mark shares the story of his work.
Above:At the end of the night, after we said goodbye to our last guest, Kalebra snapped this shot of the gallery with her trusty iPhone. For me, it was really something to see her idea come to life so quickly, and it was especially gratifying in how our team embraced the idea of showcasing someone from our own community, and how they all came together in such a short amount of time to build a beautiful gallery to give our members that opportunity. I’m so proud of our crew — Kalebra, Jean Kendra and I are very blessed to be able to work with them each day.
In just a few weeks, we’ll start on the course to find the next KelbyOne member who’ll have their own solo opening here in our gallery, and I’ll be sure to let you know when submissions are open.
Again, our hearty congratulations to Mark for sharing his beautiful work, and for sharing his wonderful wife Carol with us during their visit. She was a joy. They both are — and it’s the icing on the cake to be there when really good things happen to really good people. Also, my humble thanks to my wife Kalebra for sharing her vision, and her heart for making people’s dreams come true, and for letting us all be a part of it.
Go Back Up Your Photos. Right Now! Seriously. If you want to do the most important thing you’ll do all day — stop what you’re doing right now and go back up your photos.This past Wednesday on The Grid our topic was backing up your photos and people were writing in with such heartbreaking stories of how they lost everything, or if they were lucky it was only thousands of photos they’ll never get back. They all mentioned how devistating it was. It takes much less time than you’d think, and you’ll sleep a whole lot better tonight knowing you’re finally, and fully backed up.
I’m embedding Wednesday episode below – we talked about which types of drives to get; how big, and different solutions for backing up to the cloud, and we answered a whole bunch of questions. If you’re not sure where to start, which this episode.
Today’s the last day to save $100 on a Photoshop World 2017 Conference Ticket That’s right — the Early Bird Discount ends tonight at midnight for next month’s mega-conference in Orlando, Florida (it’s warm here btw), but if you get it on right now you’re not too late to save 100 bucks.
Head on over to photoshopworld.com right now and snag your tickets. You’ve always wanted to go — you keep saying “I’m going to go one of these years…” why not come join us now. You’ll learn more in three days than you have in three years, and you’ll come back faster, better, and totally re-energized. Get on it tonight – right now (well, right after you backup your photos). :)
Tomorrow night — it’s the Grand Opening of “The Gallery at KelbyOne” We are just so excited — the gallery is complete, and tomorrow night we’ll be celebrating the photographic work of KelbyOne member Mark Wegner (Mark won our competition for a one-man show), and you’re invited to be a part of the opening, no matter where you are in the world. We’re streaming our “Artist Interview” live tomorrow night, and you’ll get a peek at the gallery, and you’ll be inspired by Mark’s work and his stories about how he “got the shots.” It’ll be a night to remember, and you’ll see it unfold live.
Who: Me, Photographer Mark Wegner, and our host Larry Becker (Plus, a bunch of people enjoying wine and cheese). Mmmm. Cheese. What: The Grand Opening of “The Gallery at KelbyOne” and a solo gallery showing of photographer Mark Wegner’s work When: Tomorrow night – Saturday, March 18th @8pm ET Where: My Facebook Page, or at http://kelbyone.com/gallery-webcast Why:To showcase the amazing work of KelbyOne members, and share their photography with a worldwide audience
The presentation starts at 8PM ET (Note to International viewers: the US observes Daylight Savings Time so we recently moved our clocks forward 1-hour). Hope you can join us. :)
That’s right — I’m giving away FIVE free copies of my latest Photoshop CC Book for Digital Photographers Just leave a comment below in the comment section, and you’re entered. We’ll pick a winner this weekend and announce the winners on Monday. You can enter anywhere you are in the world — good luck everybody (if don’t win, you can buy the book online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon, in print or ebook formats)
Thanks for stopping by, and please consider this your friendly reminder that this is, officially, “Back Up Your Photos Friday.” :)
Camera Focus Techniques: The Key To Super Sharp Photos with Larry Becker Learn all about focusing with Larry Becker! You’ll hit the ground running in this class, as Larry starts off with some basic concepts and terminology before digging deeper into everything related to focus techniques, tips, and best practices. Beginners and experienced users alike can benefit from learning how to take advantage what your camera (regardless of manufacturer) has to offer to help you get super sharp photos in all kinds of situations and subject matter. You’ll learn how to set the diopter for your vision, how to control depth of field, the differences in focusing when using the viewfinder versus live view, the benefits of back button focusing, and so much more!
In Case You Missed It Whether you are a professional or a hobbyist, there’s no getting around the fact that photography gear can be expensive. Join our Larry Becker as he shares all kinds of cool ways you can save money on a wide range of photographic accessories. Larry is always thinking of clever alternatives to conventional gear and do-it-yourself ways to make the things you need at a much lower cost. Sometimes we can save money just by learning from the cautionary tales told by our peers. In this class Larry has gathered up a ton of his favorite tips, tricks, and projects to help you find low cost solutions for things all photographers need and use. By the end of the class you’ll be ready to head out to your local hardware store and start experimenting with your own solutions and alternatives, so that you’ll have more money to spend on the important things.
On Feb 19th, 2017 Lightroom celebrated it’s 10th anniversary, which also happens to be the day I celebrated 10 years of providing Lightroom Help Desk support. Huzzah! I’ve had the honor and pleasure of helping a lot of people in that time, and I owe that all to Scott. Being invited back for a second guest post here is a privilege, and I figured it was the perfect opportunity to share back some of the most important (and hopefully useful) Help Desk advice I’ve given in that time. Here are the top 10 things every Lightroom user should know*:
*Disclaimer, these tips are intended to be helpful, but don’t just do them without understanding all of what is involved. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me directly before you act, and I can help you with your specific situation.
1. Set Your Default Catalog
The most important thing every Lightroom user needs to know is where your Lightroom catalog is located on your system. Even if you think you know, it’s worth taking a moment to make sure (you’d be surprised how many people find it is not where they expect). With Lightroom open, go to Lightroom > Catalog Settings > General (Win: Edit > Catalog Settings > General), and note the name of the catalog and the path to where it is located. Is it where you expected? If so, great! If not, here’s how you can move it to a new location:
Click the Show button on the General tab of the Catalog Settings to open the folder containing your catalog in your file browser.
Quit Lightroom. If prompted to backup, click skip for now.
Copy the folder containing the Lightroom catalog (.LRCAT) and its associated preview caches to the location you want it to be stored (pick a locally connected internal or external drive).
Once the copy operation is complete, double-click the catalog file to open it back into Lightroom. This way you can make sure all is working fine, and the new location will be included in the preferences.
Now, whether you moved your catalog or not, this next step is important. I highly recommend that you manually configure this catalog to be the Default catalog (in other words, don’t use Load most recent catalog). To do this, go to Lightroom > Preferences > General (WIN: Edit > Preferences > General), and set the When starting up use this catalog option to the specific catalog you just opened.
Remember, if you moved your catalog to a new location, don’t forget to go back and remove the original folder containing your old catalog. Having a good backup in place is good idea too (which I’ll cover in a bit).
2. Know Where Your Photos are Located
It is equally important for all Lightroom users to know how to find exactly where a given folder or photo resides on your drive from inside Lightroom. There are a few ways to identify where your folders and photos exist on your drive. The easiest is the good old right-click contextual menu. Go ahead and right-click any folder in the Folders panel and choose the Show in Finder (WIN: Show in Explorer) menu. This will open your file browser right to that folder and show you where it exists on your drive.
Similarly, you can right-click any photo and access that same Show in menu to take you right to that photo in your file browser. You don’t have to go that far to find that information though. If you just hover your cursor over a folder you should see its path revealed in a tooltip popup. So take a moment to make sure you know exactly where all of your photos are located on your drive.
If they’re not where you want them, then let’s look at how to move them.
3. Know How to Use Lightroom to Move Photos and Folders
Now that you know where your photos are located it is in your best interest to use Lightroom to move them if you need to put them somewhere else (with one exception that I’ll cover in tip 5). Moving photos between folders or moving entire folders is as easy as drag and drop. By using Lightroom to do the moving it not only moves the photos to the new location, but it also keeps the catalog up to date with where the photos can be found. You see, Lightroom stores the complete path to each photo in the catalog, and if anything in that path changes outside of Lightroom you end up with a situation where Lightroom tells you that your photos are offline or missing (here’s a link to an article I wrote on how to reconnect missing photos). This is easily avoided by doing the moving inside of Lightroom.
So to move a group of photos (or even just a single photo) from one folder to another try this:
In the Folders panel, select the folder containing the photos you want to move.
Press G to jump to Grid view.
Select the photo(s) you want to move, and drag/drop them on the folder you want them to be moved into. The destination folder will highlight in blue to signal it is the target of the drop.
Lightroom will then do the moving, and update the catalog accordingly. You do need to have a destination folder already showing in the Folders panel to complete the move, so let’s look at how to add a folder next.
4. Keep All Photo Folders Within a Single Parent Folder
I have found it incredibly useful to always keep all my photo folders within a single parent folder on each drive I use to store photos. The reason is that it makes my life so much simpler if I ever need to move the entire photo library on that drive, or if I need to reconnect the catalog to the photo library in the case of a primary drive failure/loss.
In typical Lightroom fashion there are a couple of ways to create new folders. To start, you can go to the Library menu and choose New Folder, or click the plus sign at the top of the Folders panel and choose Add Folder to launch the Choose or Create New Folder dialog. From here you can either choose an existing folder you may have created in your file browser or you can create a brand-new folder. For example, let’s say I want to add a new drive to my catalog and want to select/create a folder on it:
Go to Library > New Folder, to open the dialog for finding and creating a new folder at the location of your choosing.
Create a new folder or select an existing folder. In my case, I had previously created a folder on this drive in Finder.
Note, my screen capture shows the dialog on a Mac, but on Windows you’d get a Windows dialog. This is one of the few visual differences in Lightroom due to the operating systems.
That drive and folder will now appear in my Folders panel. I can drag and drop photos or folders into that folder from anywhere else in my catalog.
Another common scenario is the need to create sub-folders within existing folders to help with your organizational needs. This process works in a similar fashion, but you start by selecting the parent folder you want to create the subfolder within.
Select the folder you want to create the subfolder within.
Right-click to open the contextual menu and choose Create Folder Inside “foldername.” This opens a smaller Create Folder dialog box where you can give the subfolder a name and click Create to complete the process. The subfolder will then appear in the Folders panel. These folders are ready for me to add photos, and even new folders as my organizational needs demand.
Now that I have a parent folder, and a subfolder within it, I can move folders from another drive into this drive by dragging and dropping on my new folder.
5. Know How to Move Your Photo Library to a New Drive
This is useful if you are wanting to move your entire photo Library from an internal drive to an external drive, or if you are running out of space on one drive and want to move to a new larger drive. Now, you could use Lightroom to move the folders as I just did in the previous tip, but I don’t recommend doing that when your entire library is at stake. Using a move command is risky, because if anything goes wrong in the middle of the transfer you could lose data. I prefer a technique that involves copying the folders to the new drive outside of Lightroom, updating Lightroom to this change, and then later manually deleting the files from the original location. Here’s how:
Open Finder (WIN: Explorer).
Copy the entire folder structure (as-is without changing the structure) to the other drive.
Once the copy operation is complete, right-click/ctrl-click the top-most-level folder in the Folders panel and choose Update Folder Location.
In the resulting dialog box, navigate to and select that same top-most-level folder in the new drive (the one you just copied over there).
Lightroom will update the catalog to point to the folder in the new location (and everything inside of that folder). If you have all your folders/photos in a single parent folder then you are done, but if there are additional folders at the same level as that top folder you just need to repeat steps 4 and 5 with those folders. Give it a test run to make sure everything is as it should be before removing the originals. Again, having a good backup in place before you do this is always a good idea.
6. Know How to Back Up Your Catalog
On the subject of backing up, there is a lot to say about backup strategies in general, but in the context of Lightroom catalogs I simply want to address the built-in functionality Lightroom provides. On the Catalog Settings dialog (see first tip) there is a place at the bottom where you can configure Lightroom to create a duplicate copy of the catalog at some interval of time. This is a set-it-and-forget-it type of feature, and its sole purpose is to create an exact duplicate of your working catalog file in a location of your choosing (no photos are included in this backup).
I will assume you already have some sort of full system backup running that regularly backs up all your important files, and so you may wonder if you really need this option running too. Based on the experience of helping people with Lightroom problems over the years I feel that it is in your best interests to take advantage of this built-in functionality. Sure, it may be redundant, but it is free, it is easy, and it may just one day make you weep with gratitude. I set mine to run every time I quit Lightroom, which make Lightroom throw up this prompt every time I exit.
It is only in this prompt that I can choose where I want my backup copy to be saved by clicking the Choose button and selecting a location. I recommend that you choose a different drive than the drive where your working catalog is stored. In my case, my laptop has a single internal drive, so I direct the backup to be saved to my Dropbox folder, which is automatically synced with the cloud and my other computers. I also take this opportunity to check the boxes for testing integrity and optimizing the catalog. Now, just because it prompts me each time doesn’t mean I backup every time. There is a Skip button that I use when I’m in a hurry and just want to quit.
I try to create a backup at least once a week or after I’ve done a whole lot of work. Each time this function runs it saves a copy of your catalog to the folder you chose. Lightroom does not overwrite existing backup copies. As a result you end up with a folder of iterative copies of your catalog. This can be very handy for recovering from self-inflicted problems or from the rare case of catalog file corruption.
7. Know How to Restore From Your Backup
Since a backup copy of the catalog is an exact duplicate of your working catalog at the time the backup was created all you must do to restore from the backup is the following:
Close Lightroom (if open).
Open the Lightroom folder containing your working catalog file in Finder/Windows Explorer.
Move the “bad” catalog file out of that folder to another location for safekeeping.
Move the latest/greatest “good” backup catalog copy into the Lightroom folder to replace the bad one. Starting with Lightroom 6/CC 2015 the backup copy is also compressed into a zip file to reduce file size (and keep people from accidentally opening a backup copy), so you may need to unzip the backup before you can move it into the Lightroom folder.
Once placed in the Lightroom folder, double-click the catalog file to open it into Lightroom and take it for a test drive.
The backup copy of the catalog has the same name as your working catalog, so you should be good to go. It will only contain all the work up until the moment you made that backup copy, so backup frequently. If restoring from the backup solved your problem, don’t forget to delete the “bad” catalog that you moved out earlier.
8. Manage those Backup Copies
The only downside to running the catalog backup function (aside from the time it takes to run) is that Lightroom will keep putting new copies of the catalog into that folder until the drive is full. The management of the backup folder falls on us. Since we only value the most recent version(s) of the backup copies I periodically go into that folder and delete all but the most recent 2 or 3. Note that Lightroom doesn’t backup the preview caches because those can automatically be regenerated if lost. I’ve seen people regain hundreds of gigabytes of free space after clearing out old backup copies.
9. Know How to Rename Your Catalog
I often hear from people who are using the most up to date version of Lightroom, but have a catalog file named with an older version of Lightroom and it may also have some other numbers in it, such as Lightroom 5 Catalog-2. They wonder if this is a problem, and they want to know how to rename the catalog. First, it is not a problem at all. You can call your catalog file anything you want to call it. Lightroom doesn’t care. However, if you want to rename it to something that makes more sense to you, here’s how:
With Lightroom closed, go to the folder where the catalog resides using your operating system’s file browser; Finder on Mac, and Windows Explorer on WIN.
Using your file browser you can rename the catalog file, but keep the file extension the same (.LRCAT). Then rename the Preview cache and Smart Preview cache (if applicable) the same way, but retain the word Previews and Smart Previews in the name along with the original file extension.
So, for example if your catalog and preview cache was named:
Once renamed, double-click the catalog file to open it into Lightroom. Now you can give it a quick test drive to make sure all is well, and this writes the new catalog name into the Lightroom preference file. Be sure to update your Default catalog setting to point to this renamed catalog (see Tip 1).
10. Create a Custom Camera Raw Default
OK, all those tips were focused on library management, so let’s end on a Develop tip that could speed up your workflow. Lightroom has a set of default processing settings that are applied to all raw photos after import. Did you know that you can customize those settings to start your raw photos down the processing pipeline using your preferred choices? I’m not talking about a preset selected on the Import screen, but rather the built-in default settings. Save your import presets for something creative, and customize the baseline settings.
Let’s go through the steps to customize the default settings to include two of the most common adjustments people ask me about, lens corrections and camera profiles, but feel free to add any other settings you want to customize your process (or not include these if you’d rather not).
Select a raw photo that has not been processed at all beyond the default settings and press D to jump to Develop. Click the Reset button for good measure to ensure it has no other settings applied because every adjustment (even set to 0) is included in the default settings.
Expand the Lens Corrections panel, click the Profile tab if not active already, and check Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Profile Corrections.
Note: Including profile corrections can be resource intensive, so exclude this from your defaults if performance is degraded.
Expand the Camera Calibration Panel, click the Profile drop-down menu and choose the camera profile you prefer to be the starting point.
Note: The list of camera profiles varies with the camera model used to create the selected photo.
Go to Develop > Set Default Settings to open the Set Default Develop Settings dialog box. Default settings are specific to each camera model, in this case a Nikon D610, so if you are using multiple camera models you will need to update the defaults for each model separately.
Tip: You can also hold the Option (WIN: Alt) key and watch the Reset button change to Set Default and click that button to open the Set Default Develop Settings dialog box.
Click Update to Current Settings to customize the default settings to include the changes you made.
Note: While it states the changes are not undoable, this just means that you can’t revert back to the Adobe defaults via the Edit > Undo menu. You can always open this dialog box and click Restore Adobe Default Settings if you want to go back to the original settings.
This will only affect raw photos from that specific camera model as they are imported in the future, and if you hit the Reset button on a previously imported raw photo from that specific camera model. You must repeat that process to set defaults for any other camera models you are using. This does not change the settings on any previously imported photos.
I hope you’ve found some of those tips helpful. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have, or come see me at Photoshop World, where I’ll be teaching, and answering questions at the Expert Bar.
You can see more from Rob at photofocus.com and follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Aside from also being a KelbyOne Help Desk Specialist, and Adjunct Professor at NHTI, he is a founding member of Stocksy United (a stock photography co-op). Rob writes the “Under the Loupe” column for Lightroom User Magazine, and is the author of many photography related books. His latest book is Taming Your Photo Library with Lightroom.