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Understanding the Catalog

Lesson 2 from: How To Get and Stay Organized in Lightroom

Tim Grey

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Lesson Info

2. Understanding the Catalog

Get to know exactly what your catalog can do and how to save space and work around some of its limitations.

Lesson Info

Understanding the Catalog

The light room catalog is separate from the photos. The photos are on an external hard drive just because that makes the most sense for my work flow again the key being that those photos aaron one basic place what about the catalog? Well, I want the catalog always available there's two basic things here. One his performance having the light room catalog on an external hard drive actually slows things down quite a bit in most cases and so I don't like having the light room catalog on an external unless that's absolutely critical. I need to share the photos and the catalog with other photographers in the studio or something like that. But the catalog I generally want tohave in a place number one where I've got the best performance that's usually in your actual computer and I want to make sure that I have access to it on a regular basis. So for me personally I'm traveling a ton, but I can have my light room catalog on my laptop so that I can look at my pictures at any time no matter where...

I am. Because the catalog contains previews for my images, it contains all the meta data for my images I've got all sorts of possibilities in terms of being able to work remotely essentially I guess you could say because I have my catalog on my computer that also gives me a performance advantage the key is to keep mine again. These are two separate things that we're managing as two components of an overall workflow. We have to choose where we want those components in terms of performance. Best to have the catalog on the internal hard drive with your primary computer that you're using to access light room. Unfortunately, at least for now, we're not able to store are lighter and catalog in a network storage locations of sharing among multiple users is a bit of a limitation at the moment. Obviously, for many photographers, it's not a huge issue because it's usually one photographer, maybe a couple of photographers so you can work around that now you keep saying the light room cattle over your light room catalog? How many catalogs might you have? Well, as far as I'm concerned, it should be a single catalog. Are there exceptions? Sure, there's exceptions to everything, but in my mind, having a single catalog makes the most sense, just as I want all of my photos on one hard drive, so don't have to think about which drive contains my photos. I want all of my photos in one the catalog, so I don't have to think about which catalog to open to find my photos when I need a photo, I just go into my light room catalog. Again, there's that little caveat. I travel a lot when I'm traveling all use a separate catalog just for that trip, but then all merge that catalog with my primary catalog once I get back home. So a couple of exceptions, depending on your workflow, but I really try to emphasize that notion of one catalog in light room as your master catalog for all of your photos, one storage location for all of your photos, so that you're removing a lot of those variables. This is my catalog, these are my photos, and we can start from there, so let's, take a look at some of catalogs. Setting is not. This is again just a simple demo catalog with a few images that I've been capturing while I've been here in seattle is part of creative lives photoshopped, weak. I can take a look at my catalog settings by going to the light room menu on the macintosh version of light room or the edit menu on the windows version and then just choosing catalog settings that will bring up a catalog, settings, dialogue and notice that I can see where my catalog is actually stored in case on curious. I can also see when it was created and when it was last backed up I can set my backup frequency once a week or once a month or every day as the case may be, I actually don't worry about backing up my light room catalog for a couple of reasons, one of which we'll talk about in just a second. The other is I actually use other processes to back up my entire computer system, so I don't really need and extra backup of my light room catalog. But hey, when you're paranoid like me there's no such thing as too many backups but let's, take a look at the metadata section because here, I think is some really helpful options in terms of working with other applications, but also having kind of a built in backup of your catalog. So I switched to the metadata tab in the catalog settings dialogue, and you'll notice that we have a check box here called automatically right changes into ex mp I want that option turned on it's turned off by default, and the main reason that it's turned off by default is to improve overall performance in libra. So what the heck is an ex mp and why might we want to automatically right changes into that ex mp well light room, as I mentioned, is using a catalog to store information about your photos that catalog is that central database that's, where all the information about your images is stored and by default that's, the only place that light room adds that information. So if you add a keyword in light room that key word gets out of the catalogue, if you go browse your photos and bridge, you won't see that key word. If you turn on this option to automatically right changes index mp, then the keywords and all other standard metadata will be written out automatically to your photos, so if you browse with another application, you can see those changes. I strongly recommend that you do not make additional changes with those other software tools, but sometimes it's just convenient to quickly browse a folder with bridge rather than launching light room, for example. But also and for me, more importantly, is that this essentially serves as a real time automatic backup. For most of the information about my photos, it does not back up my photos. I still need to do that myself, but it will back up most of the metadata that is contained within the catalog in light room. Most not all there are some features and light remember light room specific, and that will not be backed up to the ex mp sidecar file for your role capture. We'll talk more about that in just a moment. But what stuff is excluded? Well, the history in the development will not the changes you made your adjustments will be preserved, but the history, the list of changes you applied your images, those would be lost if you lost your catalog and had to revert to the ex mp sidecar file. In addition, virtual copies would be lost, pick flags will talk about those would be lost. Membership in collections would be lost, there's, a variety of light room specific features that are not preserved here. So if you use those features it's, very important that you actually back up your catalog on a very regular basis, how often, how much work do you want to have to redo if you lose your catalog? Not very much, I would say, is often is you're making major changes to the catalog. Fortunately, it is exceedingly rare for the light room catalog to be corrupted. I've been working with light room since it was launched. I make countless catalogs for demo purposes all the time I talked to a lot of photographers I only know of about. Four photographers who have ever had a catalogue get corrupted and that's having talked to a lot of photographers and so it's a fairly rare event but still obviously want to safeguard yourself so this automatically right changes into ex mp option is helpful in terms of preserving your most important metadata your keywords, your star ratings, et cetera, but it doesn't protect everything. So what is that ex mp really? This doesn't relate specifically or exclusively to ex mp and ex mp pile is just a little sidecar file it's an extra bonus file that goes alongside your original raw capture. The idea is that light room, by and large, wants to avoid a situation where it's updating your original raw capture sort of like back in the film days not to go back in time too far, but if you had to get a slide scan that he wanted to let somebody else do it, how comfortable would you be with that? Now you're sending one of your photos one of your slides in the mail that someone else hoping they don't scratch it or damage it or lose it same sort of concept when light room is updating the actual raw capture if it were to do so, there's a risk of corrupting that file and so instead it uses a sidecar file to store the information about the photo separate from the royal capture the exception would be for j peg, or tiff images, in which case that metadata will actually be written into the actual image file itself, so the j peg, or the tiff image will be updated with that meditated. So to me, this is a wonderful thing, because now, when eyebrows, my images and bridge, for example, they're automatically reflecting the changes I made in light room in terms of that core meditative the standard meta data, and it also means that I've got that sort of automatic backup, so maybe I'll lose collections in history and pick flags, but I've got all my key words and all my star rating, and so I focus on using those things that are standard metadata for all of my overall image management will talk more about that shortly, so something that I recommend having turned on, yes, if I select ten thousand images and add a single key word to ten thousand images, light room in the background is going to be writing ten thousand tiny little ex mp sidecar files that could take a little bit of time that can slow down overall system performance. I'll take that slowdown in return for the peace of mind that it gives me knowing that that information is being backed up, no peace of mind now going to contradict myself, essentially, and say that under the exit, we have the option to write the date and time changes into the proprietary raw files, your original raw capture. Now, fortunately, I rarely admit to forgetting to change the time zone on my camera when I changed time zones. And so this is rarely I wish an issue, but we can actually correct the capture time I was in new york, my camera set two new york time. Now I come to seattle, I forget to change the clock on my camera to seattle time, and so now my pictures don't have the right time on them. I can correct that information here in light room. The question then becomes, do I want to update it in light room on lee, or do I want to change the original image? As much as I might theoretically be concerned about light room damaging my images, air corrupting those were all captures? I also want to destroy all evidence that I ever forgot to change the time on my camera, and so I actually turn this off. The notion is, in my mind, at least, that if there's a problem with light room corrupting files, I'm probably going to hear about it, and I'm not performing this task on a regular basis, and so I feel reasonably comfortable that it's not a huge risk in any event. So I leave it to you to decide for both of those options. Really, I do highly recommend that automatically, right changes into ex mp option. But the dating time changes may be less important, depending on your specific workflow and how badly you need to know exactly what time sunset really wass when you took those images. All right, so that takes care of our catalog settings. Pretty straightforward. There is a file handling section. We're not going to worry about that right now, because the defaults are perfectly fine, generally speaking, at least in the context of what we're focusing on today.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Tim Grey - How to Get and Stay Organized in Lightroom - Reference Guide.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Michael Griffith

I've been using Lightroom for a number of years, but thought it might be helpful to review the program. Tim Grey does is an expert in the program and does a wonderful job of explaining the intricacies of the program. He uses a lot of self deprecating humor and his examples stick with you. The map feature is one LR tab I've never before used. Having updated some of the metadata tags, I can easily find my pictures of Costa Rica or Taos, NM. (plus its fun to see my travels plotted on a map)

Gary Hook

Tim has a great style and a wealth of knowledge. I appreciate that he not only talks about a technique, but takes the time to actually demonstrate the 'how' and the results. Although I've been using LR for some time, I came away with some great tips and insights in some areas such as using the Maps function as a search tool


I have discovered a new teacher I LOVE. I love the pace of Tim's teaching as well as his linear pratical advise. He stays on task as he teaches and is thorough. He even adds a little humor. This is a great to the point course!

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