Lightroom Panic, or A Cautionary Tale and Hooray for Backups
I still haven't completely nailed down my Lightroom workflow, partly because I keep discovering new features and of course then I want to use them. (Play with ALL the toys!) I already had lots of digital images when I started using Lightroom, and a loose sort of workflow with Canon DPP that covered getting images to the media center PC for slideshows and to Flickr for sharing. Lightroom has great tools for this sort of thing (Publish!) so some of my DPP habits don't make so much sense now.
For example, in DPP I exported my keepers as full-size JPGs. I'd then upload those to Flickr with a separate program, and just let the media center screensaver use the same images. Now I can publish screen-sized JPGs for the media center and full-size JPGs straight to Flickr, but I've still been exporting those full-size images to a "keepers" folder out of habit. It finally occurred to me that I don't use those files. I never look at them. I don't send them anywhere (except to the backup disk). They just sit around and take up disk space (twice!). Sure, disk space costs less and less as time goes by, but still, why?
Also, I want an easier way to keep track of "done" and "to do" states so I can get a sense of my progress going back through those old images. I used to just dump everything into My Pictures and let the screensaver fly, but it doesn't take long for that to result in a lot of crappy pictures on your screen, so I set myself the task of editing my existing library and rebuilding the slideshow folders with only good stuff. I've worked my way back through 2012 and part of 2011 this way.
All this leads up to Lightroom Panic Day.
Pre-Panic Day my labels looked like this:
- Red: ...
- Yellow: To Be Exported
- Green: Exported
- Blue: Pano/HDR/etc
- Purple: ...
I used the Yellow and Green labels to keep track of when to export the full-size JPG (Yellow) and when to publish to the media center and Flickr (Green). For tracking through my back catalog, I just imported one month at a time and kind of winged it, frequently forgetting where I was when I broke off to process NEW pictures. Obviously not an ideal process.
I decided to try this:
- Red: Skip
- Yellow: Consider
- Green: Keeper
- Blue: Pano/HDR/etc
- Purple: ...
Newly imported photos don't have a color, so I know I haven't looked at them yet. As I go through a set of images, I can toggle Red and Yellow using the 6 and 7 shortcut keys. Then I can filter on the Considers and work on them in the Develop module. I set the ones I like to Keeper and away we go.
First I went through all my Smart Collections and changed their rules to pick up Label Color = Green instead of Label Text = Exported. So far so good. Then I changed my Label Text values, and fumbled around a bit in that process, finally figuring out how to save the new names to my existing custom label set. I set up some new Smart Collections to show the various workflow states (New Imports = all uncolored, In Progress = all Yellows, Keepers = all Greens) and was feeling very clever, when I realized that all my Publish Smart Collections were now EMPTY!? WTF? Cue the Lightroom Panic....
AGH! Put the laptop down. Walk away. Calm down and think.... Hm, all those catalog backups I do every time I shut down Lightroom.... Maybe I can just open the last known good one of those.... Oh, the relief! Look at all my pretty green labels! Pretty pretty green labels and happy fat collections stuffed full of lovingly processed pictures! Whew.
Past the panic, (and with confidence in my safety net!) I knew I still wanted to try this new labeling idea, so I did some experimenting and discovered that when I changed the label text, all my pictures marked with that color changed to White (Custom), so I still had a way to identify them. I picked all the White ones, marked them as Green again, changed the rules on my Smart Collections, and voila, order was restored.
I haven't used my new system yet (still recovering from the panic, thanks) but I have high hopes.