Lightroom 3

Editing Workflow Part 1: Overview and Optimising Lightroom.

I have read and received many questions recently about editing workflow and decided to write about my experience achieveing a good workflow structure. My way of doing things will definately not be same as someone elses and it may not suit everyone. An editing workflow should be something you can do in your sleep and therefore needs to be familier and structured, however it should also quite organic and you should be ready to rethink and evaluate as you learn new tricks or find new software.This year I have introduced four new pieces of software into my workflow, 2 of which I use all the time and the others as an when they are needed.


Traditionally my workflow basically involved Lightroom to import, catalogue and RAW editing, then Photoshop to do more detailed editing and finishing off, before going back to Lightroom to Export etc. This has worked well over the years, but I was finding it difficult to keep up with catalogue structures within Lightroom and sometimes trying to find images outside of lightroom became messy. I decided to change my importing and filing system so that I could find images without having to go to Lightroom. I moved from a descriptive filing system (eg, Commercial, Portraits, Landscapes etc) to a year and date one (i know obvious hey!). So I now have a 2012 folder with the months in subfolders and the shoots subfolders within them. I then Keyword images in Lightroom so they can still be indentified.

I no longer use Lightroom to import images from my memory card. Since discovering Media Pro one from capture one i have decided to use that software to import etc. Mainly this is due to it being slightly quicker to import and backup images, but mainly I just preferred to handle this outside of Lightroom. Lightrooms inport module is still very good, but it is personal preference. I then just add the folder to the Lightroom catlogue afterwards.

So the software I use in order of use:

1. Media Pro 1

2. Lightroom 3

3. Photoshop CS5

4. Photo mechanic

I will talk a little more about these in future blog posts.



Before starting a workflow it is important to have things set up correctly and running smoothly. Obviously the main consideration is hardware if you have an old computer with no power then you will probably struggle to get Lightroom to run faster than walking pace, although Lightroom does have quite low minimum requirements so can be used on some really old machines. Assuming you are running a reasonable machine there are a couple of things you can do to make Lightroom handle quicker.

1. Increase the Cache size.

Lightroom 3 uses the Adobe Camera Raw engine when you are working in the develop module. Adobe Camera Raw generates large previews everytime you make a change within the develop module and stores these in the cache folder. This is how you see the changes straight away. Now for some reason Lightroom 3 defaults on installation to a cache size of 1GB. When the cache file is full Lightroom will delete the oldest image file and this happens very quickly when working with modern RAW files. This causes the long delay in loading time when switching between images in the devlop module and sometimes when making adjustments especially when using the healing tools and adjusment brushes as they rely on this cached previews. The best thing to do is to increase the size of your cache folder depending on how much hardrive space you have available. Ideally the cache file will be stored on a fast drive that does not contain your OS. A small SSD would be excellent for such purposes. However it can be put anywhere ad it will be better than the default option. Mine is stored on my main hardrive (hopefully this will change soon) and I have it set to a size of 40GB (maximum is 50GB).

To change the cachse setting you go to Edit > Preferences you then got to the "file handling" tab (see image below) choose the cache file location and size.

Adobe camera Raw Cache


2. Create Previews on Import.

I mentioned previews earlier and again this is a good practice to get into when importing into Lightroom. Lightroom relies a lot on previews when using the library module and depending what you tend to do in the library you can set to render previews on import so that you filck through your library quicker. If you just look at full screen images in the Library you can set to render "standard previews" these previews will take up less hard disk space, but will enable you to flick through images quicker. If, like me, you like to check focus using 1:1 views then rendering "1:1 previews" is a good option. It really speeds up the process in the library module. The main downside to this is that it takes a bit longer at the import stage, but I prefer that to sitting there waiting for previews to load. The rendering option is on the import screen (see image below).

Import screen


Thats it for this post. You should find that Lightroom will handle a little bit more efficiently. My next post will talk about speeding up and optimising Photoshop. Thanks for reading, please contact me with any questions about Lightroom or anything else for that matter. I run regular 1to1 and group tuition on Lightroom, photoshop and general photography. Contact me for more information.

Black and White in Lightroom 3

As you may have guessed, especially if you read my blog at all, that I am a massive fan of Black and White photography. I have written about using Silver FX pro from Nik software, which is my preferred method of converting black and whites. This is mainly for the convenience and the quality straight from the go.However one issue for me, because I use Lightroom 3 is that I have to export my image to some extent, either into photoshop or into Silver FX. I usually choose the photoshop route and use the filters, as it means I can edit other parts of the image at the same time.

So over the Christmas period, when I was recovering from turkey and wine overload, I started looking into ways of achieving good results in Lightroom. I have previously looked into presets, both standard Lightroom ones and third party ones and to be honest I have not found any that I really like. I have to say that a couple of the creative B&W presets do a reasonable job sometimes, but often they are a bit severe.

I therefore decided to dedicate some time and really look into the B&W functionality in Lightroom, away from presets and away from silver fx pro. The following is what I have found to be a good way of working, but obviously the method can be adapted. These are not all my ideas (obviously) but a mixture of methods found during my research.

Lightroom 3 B&W workflow.

So my first thing I do is make a nice colour photo. I do all the usual white balance and exposure corrections and adjust the clarity and saturation (Clarity is quite important during B&W conversions as it boosts contrast between the colour tones). I also do a small adjustment on the curve, but this is slightly easier to do once the image is B&W.

So now you will end up with a reasonable colour image.


This is my example. I shot these image knowing that I was going to make it B&W.

Now I change it to B&W by going to the colour adjustment panel and clicking the B&W tab.


Lightroom black and white

This is very similar to the channels tool in photoshop and what I have found very nice is the individual colour sliders, which you can use to adjust the look of the image and it is worth playing around with these to get the feel that you want.

Now you could leave it there and you will have a nice B&W image, but with Lightroom it does tend to produce slightly cold B&W, by that I mean there seems to be a very faint blue cast, especially in the highlights. So I found this nice little remedy which gives you a really nice feel to the image and produces something similar to a Platinum print, but it is worth playing around as you may find something you prefer.

For the sake of argument I shall call it the 50-50 effect and I have even saved it as a preset. Under the colour adjustment pallet you have the split toning pallet.

Lightroom 50-50

Basically the hue is set to a value of 50 for both highlights and shadows. Now this will actually have no effect on your image until you up the saturation slider. The amount of saturation you use is entirely personal taste and I like to preserve the B&W look and not turn it sepia, but even setting the saturation to 1 on each will make a difference. Again its worth playing around to find the recipe you like.

Here is the result from the earlier picture.


Obviously you can then go back and make curves adjustments. I have included some more examples of this method below. The shot of St Mary's Lighthouse has also been through colour efex 4 tonal contrast filter, so is slightly cheating. I liked the result though.



St Mary's Lighthouse 1


Thanks For reading. Any feedback or questions please contact me