Speed Up Lightroom for Free

SPEED UP LIGHTROOM AND YOUR WORKFLOW
Without spending a penny!’

While talking with people about Lightroom it has come to my attention that some of the most seasoned users are asking me questions that seem obvious to me. This article is intended to help ALL Lightroom users with a few basic concepts that will save you time and speed up Lightroom.

Step #1. Hard Drive Space:
Make sure your primary hard drive is at least 50% available. I don’t know why, but when we use Lightroom on a computer that has a full or almost full primary working hard drive, Lightroom seems to slow down considerably.

Step #2. File Location:
Hard drives have different speeds. Basically, a hard drives’ ability to respond to your requests is a function of how fast it can spin and whether it is an internal drive directly connected to your computer or an external drive connected by a USB or Fire Wire cord. While you are actively editing a group of photographs, we suggest that you house them on your fastest hard drive that is directly connected to your computer. (AKA: not an external drive) On a PC we use the C: drive. On a MAC we use our desktop.

Step #3. Lightroom Catalog:
While Lightroom “can” manage large volumes of photographs, it tends to get slowed when you place too many images in any one catalog.
In our studio workflow we have one Lightroom catalog for each client as well as a master catalog for each of the different types of photography we do. We first edit our images in the client catalog and once we are done we will export the images and then import them into the master catalog.
The master catalog is only used to retrieve images using key words. (Read: too slow for editing) For example, I had a reception venue call the studio yesterday and ask if I had any photos of their hall with the tables all decorated and lit with candles. A quick key word search of the master library provided me with 10 images that I was able to show the individual and make a quick sale.

Step #4. File Structure:
We have found that a set file structure makes life much easier when using Lightroom. This is just a suggestion:
Client Name
RAW
LR
EDITS

We place the folder named "Client Name" on our desk top and place three sub folders within this client name folder. "RAW" "LR" and "EDITS." We place them on our desktop because this is our faster hard drive.
RAW: We place all of the non edited files from a shoot in this folder.
LR: We place the client specific Lightroom catalog in this folder
EDITS: When we are done editing in Lightroom we will export the files into this folder.

When we are finished editing a given client’s photos we will then move the entire file tree to an external hard drive to keep our primary working drive as free as possible. By moving the entire tree of folders together, we are making sure that Lightroom will always be able to find the original raw files. If a client asks you to re-edit an image, you will be able to open the Lightroom catalog from the external drive that it is housed in and Lightroom will still be able to see the RAW files.

Importing Photos:

Step #1 File Renaming:
The file name assigned to an image by our Canon camera has an obvious sequence to it, one that any person who has ever used a digital camera could recognize. This causes us problems because our clients then realize that we are “hiding” photos from them. To keep from ever being asked about the missing photos, we rename the files while downloading them from the memory cards.

We suggestions:
(Julian Day)_(Hours)_(Minute)_(Second)

By renaming your RAW files and keeping these files names all the way to the end product, you are saving yourself considerable headache down the road if a client asks for an image to be re-edited. If this happens you can put the file name referenced by the client into the search feature of Lightroom and the image in question will come up. This alone is why we keep the above file structure intact.

Step #2. Standard Sized Preview:
Once you have imported your images from your memory card into the RAW folder, we suggest you render a “standard size preview.” Basically this will load to your computer cashe an image of your files that is sized to match your computer screen resolution. (I think). Either way, selecting the “standard sized” preview seems to be the best option for our workflow. Selecting the 1:1 preview is asking your computer to remember more detail than is really needed: Slowing things down!

 

Editing:

Step #1. Full Sized photos:
We suggest editing screen sized photos rather than editing thumbnails. Just personal preference but it seems to let us look at the images more critically than is possible using thumbnails. This is critical given step #2 below.

Step #2. Only Once!
Talking with many Lightroom users we have learned that most of you like to do the whittling or culling process in one step and the editing process in another step.
We understand why you do this, but think you might be better off if you didn’t. Why not edit and whittle your images at the same time. Like it or not, it takes you about 30% more time to review your images and then go back and edit them in another round.
In our workflow we see an image on the screen for the first time, if we like it we make a few edits and we move on. We will never see that photograph again. If the next image is similar or basically the same, we will do one of two things:

Option #1: Reject the image using the reject key on the RPG KEY keyboard.
Option #2. Using a preset, we will make an alternate version of the previous image such as sepia, or BW.
Of all the concepts we have shared today, the idea of only seeing an image once is definitely the one that will shock the most people. It also happens to be the one tip that will save you the most time while editing!

Good luck and please feel free to email if you have any questions.
Cheers
Tim
tim@rpgkeys.com
www.rpgkeys.com

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