My work flow in Lightroom

1. importIt was noted by a fellow suave photographer, while I was photographing performers at the Burlesque Idol Final, that I was snapping off lots of shots so post editing would take some time. I use Lightroom 4 which makes the processing of massive amounts of files easy to do. I thought I would share with you all how I process my shots.

1. Importing.

The first thing I do is get all my shots into Lightroom, I don’t waste time selecting the ones during the import stage I just want them copying to the hard disk asap, plenty of time to accept and reject later. I also don’t use Collections that much, I prefer to hold everything in folders dependent on what the subject is about i.e Aviation, London, Astronomy and branch off from there. On my Alpha hard drive I created a ‘Pictures’ folder and then a ‘_Lightroom dump’ folder.

Tip: If you put an underscore in front of your folder name then it jumps to the top of your folder list.

2. Apply SettingsI import direct to this folder. I do not rename the files as they come in though that can come later once I have the shots I’m happy with. I leave develop settings as they are. I would rather see the shots as they came out of the camera. I use my Lensintheface metadata which includes copyright information.

I also add the basic Keywords at this point, usually about the event or place I was visiting at the time and any general descriptive term that could be added. Once that is done I hit the import button.

2. Accept and Rejecting (A&R)

4. LoupeOnce I have imported all my shots from each SDHC card that was used. I then begin the process of Accepting or Rejecting. In the Library module I switch my view to Loupe mode, (2nd Icon from the left) and hide all the the other panels but pressing Ctrl-Shift-F, followed by the L key twice for Lights out mode.

This removes all the clutter so I can focus on the photo itself. I use the ‘p’ and ‘x’ keys to accept or reject a photo. Once I have chosen either accept or reject the view shifts to the next shot. I can quickly move through my shots this way using the following criteria.

  • Too blurry
  • Hands, feet cut off
  • Not sharp enough on the focus point
  • Wrong focus point
  • Too much ISO noise
  • Just plain bad..

3. Move the rejected, play with the rest

Once I have gone through the first A&R session I then move the rejected photos out of the way to a Reject folder. Pressing Ctrl-Shift-F and the L key again returns me to the normal working screen. I choose the Grid mode ( first icon of four above) in the Library module. So I can see all the photos, accepted and rejected.

7. Backslash key attribute

Pressing the ‘\’ back space key once brings up the Library Filter panel. I choose the x[] flag attribute so I am shown only the rejected pictures. I highlight the lot but pressing Ctrl-A. At this point, if I am feeling evil, I can delete all of them but I like to go back and check the rejected ones just to make sure I haven’t missed anything. With them all highlighted I right click on the _Lightroom dump folder and choose ‘Create Folder inside _Lightroom dump folder’, name it Rejected and tick the Include selected photos. Then hit the create button.

Tip: If you are moving a lot of photos to this reject folder, you can speed the process up by simply clicking on another, less populated folder. This means Lightoom doesn’t have to update the view each time it moves a photo, it is moving them in the background.

9. Reject Folder

4. Trimming in Survey mode

Stage 4 is where I use the Survey view (fourth icon from the left). This allows me to group mini sets of photos together and again I trim them down to a couple per mini set using the A&R method. I use this method because, as with live events, I may let the camera loose and just fire shot after shot. This will result in a number of photos looking very similar so using the Survey mode I can quickly discard (reject) the bad ones in favor of the better.

8. Survey Mode more rejecting

As all the photos at this point should have the Accept flag on them, I can use the ‘\’ key to bring up the filter pane and filter by accepted photos only. When I reject photos from the mini sets in the Survey mode they are hidden away, I can then filter and move them to the rejected folder as described in stage 3.

After that I should have the photos that will form the remaining set of the event. There I can now get on with editing the ones I want.

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