5 hidden workflow features in Lightroom

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It goes without saying that Lightroom is the go-to software for image editing if you’re a photographer. There are alternatives, of course, but without doubt Adobe’s photographer-friendly application is far easier to use than most of the others — the learning curve is practically nonexistent for an average computer user.

Having said that, Lightroom has always been Alice’s Rabbit Hole — the deeper you go, the more you discover that there’s lots more you can do with this software. Today, we will walk you through 5 kick-ass hidden Lightroom features that can make a world of difference to your workflow. Pay close attention. 

Smart Previews

Some of you may have already begun using Smart Previews and swear by its usefulness. For those of you who haven’t, we’re going to state the one big problem that this feature solves.

How do you transfer a 1000 RAW files to your editor when you are off-site? If you’re traveling for a month or more and you have several thousand images to edit and you do not want to carry your hard disk everywhere, what do you do?

In Smart Previews you have the solution.

Smart Previews is essentially based on the lossless DNG format, and is a “size and weight” solution to your heavy images.

What it does is it creates an alternative lightweight format that you can always access regardless of storage or transfer limitations. So, instead of transferring several gigs of images, you’d have to just transfer a few megabytes of Smart Previews. And, your editor can make all the edits without the original RAW file. And if you’re traveling, it’s a good way to carry around several thousands of images that you want to edit without lugging storage devices with you.

On-the-go editing

If you have already created a catalog that you want to use when you’re traveling, this is what you need to do. When in the Library module, pull down the “Library” menu and select “Build Smart Previews” in the “Previews” selection. You’ll notice that the notation under the histogram that earlier said “Original” will now say “Original + Smart Preview”.

When you do this, you can offload the RAW images to your on-site storage and retain the Smart Previews alone for editing. That way, you can keep your laptop light and retain more space for additional images.

Transferring images

If you want to transfer a catalog to an editor who is located elsewhere, you do not need to transfer the RAW images along with the catalog. All you need to do is choose “Export as Catalog” under the “File” menu and check “Build/Include Smart Previews” and uncheck the other two items.

Now, you’ll have created a Smart Previews catalog that can be independently transferred/mailed to your editor.

Reconciling missing folders

You’ll often face the problem of missing images in your catalog. That’s caused by the absence of the source RAW file that you earlier linked to when you created the catalog.

You may have moved the RAW images folder elsewhere, so you now need to link it back to the Lightroom catalog.

There is a far less cumbersome solution.

Before you move the RAW images folder to another storage device/location, click on the Add Folders (+) icon in the Folders tab when you’re in the Library module.

Create a new folder and specify a name for the new folder that you want to move the RAW images to. Now, move the existing folder in Lightroom to the new folder. Now, Lightroom knows where the source files reside and it automatically reconciles the images.

Solo Mode

It can sometimes be frustrating to scroll through and back each Develop panel or section when you want to make image edits.

Instead, you can choose a collapsible structure, where opening one panel will collapse the previously opened panel. To enable this, right-click on any dark-grey region on the right panel and select “Solo Mode” from the list.

Full screen culling

Everybody loves to see a bigger preview of the images that they are rating or assigning a label. Lightroom allows you to do that.

Click “F” to take you to the full screen mode. Now, you can use your keys 1-5 for rating or 6-9 for color labeling.

Sync capture times from multiple cameras or photographers

It’s not rare that you’ll forget to sync your camera clock with your partner. This can be disastrous when you’re importing and sorting the images.

There is a solution to that, which is more of a hack than a feature in Lightroom.

Choose one picture from each photographer, with the time of capture as close to each other as possible. Select one of the images from the first photographer and in the Metadata for the image, note down the time and date as-is.

Next, use a filter to display only the second photographer’s images. Move to the image that you had previously identified as the closest in time taken to the first photog’s image. Select this image and then hit Ctrl/Cmd-A to select all the images. This essentially does a double selection.

Now, go to the Capture Time column in the Metadata settings and click. It will open up a dialog box, where you can now enter the time that you noted down from the first photographer’s image. By doing this, the new time will be recorded for the second photographer’s image. At the same time, the time of capture for all the selected photos will also be shifted by the same margin.

Do you have some to share?

Have you discovered more hidden features or settings in Lightroom that will prove very useful to photographers? Do share with us.

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