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Thread: How does Lightroom store photos in your computer?

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    How does Lightroom store photos in your computer?

    Hi, I obviously don't have Lightroom yet. I am probably going to switch over from Aperture. I am very unhappy with Aperture and am frustrated with the way my photos are handcuffed in an Aperture format. I don't want to have to export projects and metadata and go through seventy file folders to find a photo in my system without going through Aperture.

    Can anyone explain how Lightroom sets up the files? I know that they don't damage the masters, but how are the master files set up? Do I have to do all of my exporting and backup the same way as through Aperture (if anyone knows?). Does Adobe put the files in a Lightroom format?
    Thanks.

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    Welcome to the forum. The short answer is there is no lightroom format. The lr database (catalog) contains the changes you make in the develope module, and bakes them in on export as either a tiff or jpeg. You might want to spend some time at adobe tv and check out the series on lightroom.

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    OK, thanks. I just didn't want to get into another mess I am trying to clean up. Oy.

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    Welcome NNorris to Lightroom Forums!

    Here is a great set of resources that will answer many of your questions. http://www.lightroomforums.net/showt...he-Starter-Kit

    If you don't find an answer to a specific question here, come back and ask us.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nnorris14 View Post
    I don't want to have to export projects and metadata and go through seventy file folders to find a photo in my system without going through Aperture.
    I'm not entirely sure what this means (I am not an Aperture owner), but your words seem like a red flag to me.

    In Lightroom, you have to Export your photos if you want your edits to be visible in other applications. So while you don't want to go through Aperture to find a photo, you will have to go through Lightroom to find your photos and make use of them.

    It almost sounds to me like you haven't taken advantage of the organizing features in Aperture; and you will need to take advantage of the organizing features in Lightroom, otherwise you will be in the same situation as in Aperture.

    So, it sounds like whatever problems you had in Aperture, you may have the same problems in Lightroom (or I have misunderstood you entirely).
    Last edited by dj_paige; 2 May 2011 at 11:31 am.
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    Well, you don't "have to go through Lightroom to find your photos and make use of them". You can of course find your original photos where they are stored on your harddrive using Windows Explorer och Mac Finder. Keep in mind though those are the unedited originals (the masters). Edited photos must first be exported in order to "exist" as files.

    That said, the features in Lightroom (such as keywording and collections) makes it far better in handling/finding images among tens-of-thousands.

    I agree with Paige: it seems you haven't been making use of those features in Aperture either (there are similar funcions I believe)
    Last edited by erro; 2 May 2011 at 11:17 am.

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    If you do not want to be "handcuffed" by lightroom then you need to have a logical folder system so that you know exactly where your files are so that you can gain access to them using your chosen software. One thing to remember though is that you will only be able to see your unedited photos if viewed from outside LR (or PS). To view your edited photos outside of LR then you need to create (export) separate photos in your preferred format (I choose Jpeg) and to export them to a location that you can easily access. I export mine into a folder that resides next to the folder that contains the RAW files.

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    Hi
    As one newbie to another I'll try to allay your fears. You could also download the free 30 day trial and explore the issues. I am currently running the trial version. Its easy to download and install.

    All my image files are held in a logical file structure with just one folder at the top level. It was a simple process to point LR at the top folder select 'all photos' and import all the images. This takes a while if you have lots of images, but you could do it with a smaller subset for a quick tryout though.

    Having imported all my image files into LR, my folder structure and all my files are just as they were. Nothing changed, apart from the fact that LR has added its catalogue (folder structure containing its database files). It hasn't messed with anything I had before though.

    I can still find all my files using the file manager (windows explorer in my case) - nothing has moved. I can still edit them with other converters or editors if I want to.

    If I now move files within my folder structure outside of LR I will cause LR a problem since it only knows where they were when imported, but its not difficult to fix that.

    So for example I can still use Bibble 5 to edit RAW files (it saves edit data in sidecar files, which LR doesn't use in its default configuration) . See post by TNG below.

    Changes made in LR are stored in its database, so changes made by either of these are not seen by the other. LR uses the same method for JPEG & TIFF files so these changes are also non-destructive wrt the original file.

    To get some output outside of LR you do need to "export" but this is really just LRs term for "SAVE AS" to produce a jpeg or tiff. In Bibble you use an "OUTPUT" batch dialogue. So for example if after working on a folder full of images you wanted to produce a number of jpegs to print your favourites you'd click on "Export" from the file menu, make selections for format (jpeg), where you want them, what output sharpening etc, and click the Export button (I think its labelled export).

    If you tried LR for a month and having imported all your images, and exported some as jpegs, you then decided not to go for it. All you would need to do is uninstall it delete the catalogue and your images and file folder structure are as they were. Unaffected. (except you might have some new jpegs or other output (exports).

    You are kind of locked into it once you invest time in editing many images because the image adjustments and the catalog (asset management) facilities can only be accessed by lightroom. Your output (exports) though have the benefit of those adjustments so the jpeg, tiff and dng files are a permanent record of the final result. That pretty much goes for any other solution though.

    Regards
    John
    Last edited by jbourne; 6 May 2011 at 8:43 am. Reason: clarification

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    Great post John....

    However, there's one particular point which probably needs clarification:

    So for example I can still use Bibble 5 to edit RAW files (it saves edit data in sidecar files, which LR doesn't use)
    Three things to note about this:

    • There is a option in the Lightroom Catalog settings - Automatically write changes to XMP - which by default is OFF but when turned ON it will write all metadata changes (for existing as well as future changes) back to the original files. For Jpg, DNG, Tiff this is done by actually updating the XMP area in the header of the files themselves, but for RAW files this is done by the creation of an XMP sidecar file (will have the same filename as the original but with an .XMP extension instead of .CR2, .NEF etc.
    • The second point is that it is possible to tell Lightroom to READ existing XMP metadata from an existing file. For example I sometimes use Geosetter to add GPS data to a RAW file....this is done outside Lightroom, Geosetter gives me a mapping feature which I use to pinpoint the location, when I'm done Geosetter writes that data into an XMP sidecar file. Back in Lightroom I tell LR to 'Read Metadata from file', it reads the sidecar and populates the GPS data in the catalog accordingly. Key thing to note here is that the existing metadata is reset when you do this, thus potentially losing existing edits etc. There are workarounds, just be aware....
    • The last point is that when importing a file, Lightroom will read existing sidecar files (provided they are in the same folder with the correct filename) and attempt to apply the metadata therein. Not sure how that might play if you have previously processed a RAW using Bibble, or even if Bibble uses the same sidecar-naming method, it's just something to watch out for.
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    Thanks Jim

    Apologies to the OP , but LR won't change your sidecar files in its default mode, so with that condition, LR will leave your files unaltered. As you can see, if you do have a problem theres plenty of prompt help & support here.

    I should have added "by default" to that line. I'll ammend it and reference your post. The point I was making is that in its default state Lightroom shouldn't conflict with the OPs existing setup. That is he's safe to give it a try because its not going to screw things up. Regarding the last point LR definitely does import metadata from bibbles sidecar files bt it doesn't update them with changes made in LR (in the default mode) (they are .xmp files) but not the image adjustments (at least in default mode )

    Thanks for the clarifications
    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNG View Post
    Great post John....

    However, there's one particular point which probably needs clarification:

    Three things to note about this:

    • There is a option in the Lightroom Catalog settings - Automatically write changes to XMP
    And another point to make with the clarification: Bibble Pro can create two types of sidecar file. the default is the *.bib file which is ASCII text conforming to Bibble's expectations. Since the Introduction of BibblePro5, you also have tha option to create an XMP file which is XML ASCII text. I haven't tested this recently, but I do not believe the XMP file created by BibblePro is usable by Adobe Products.

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