Thursday, May 31, 2007
Lightroom Lights Up
After a lengthy public beta and considerable time and thought in development, Adobe Lightroom arrives. Will the application become your ultimate workflow tool?
About The Folders
Yes, Lightroom allows users to organize their images within folders on their hard drives, and there's a one-for-one relationship regarding their location, their folder names as well as individual image names. That's a dual-edged sword in that if you already have an established and well-organized method of organization, Lightroom allows you to use it. However, if you're like many photographers, your existing organization might need a bit of help. While you can move things around and rename things, it's really a lot better if you organize folders and images before you import them. I've taken to putting images in one main enclosing folder, ~DigitalCaptures (the ~ sign allows the folder to be at the top of the hard-drive list). Within that main folder is a group of subfolders based upon the type of photography contained within. It's not perfect, but it seems to live comfortably with Lightroom's methodology.
If you do avail yourself of Lightroom's ability to move and manage, you'll be seeing a lot of these dialogs. Pay close attention when they come up because, just like moving or deleting images on your hard drive, it can't be “undone.”
The Left Panel
The left panel is where your images live. At the top is the main Library, something I don't tend to spend a lot of time in. Below that is the Find function, and it's a Find on steroids. You can “find” any text associated with an image, including all metadata, and your search can allow for the following criteria: Containing, Containing All, Not Containing, Starting with and Ending with. Additionally, you can narrow the search by date either by menu or by slider.
Below the Find function is the Folders view. When the public preview was released, there was no folder view of your Library; you had to import images based upon the concept of “Shoots.” Well, let's just say that didn't go over real well with the beta testers, so the engineers listened to the users on the Lightroom beta forums and tossed out “Shoots” and allowed users to import based upon folders on their hard drive.
Below Folders is the Collections function. Here, users can create collections based on any criteria they wish. The Collections aren't limited by folder or even drive volume. Members of the Collections can be from master files or virtual copies. The Collections is where you can group images in any manner you wish in “virtual folders” or subfolders—without actually moving the files themselves.
Below Collections is arguably one of the most critical aspects of image organization: Keyword Tags. Keywords allow the ability to embed a rich series of hierarchical tags that make searching through thousands of images quick and precise. The richer the keywords, the better the image organization will be.
At the bottom is the Metadata Browser. Since Lightroom constantly maintains a record of each piece of metadata contained in an image, the browser lets users view images based on the database's built-in organization of the data.
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