The Digital Sorceress

Adobe Lightroom Tricks and Tips

Oct 13, 2017

I've been doing a massive push to get my digital photo archives up on my Smugmug site. In that process, I've had to somewhat relearn Lightroom and come to terms with some idiosyncrasies about Lightroom and also with Smugmug.

I started out with the idea that this would be one quick article with a few (maybe 10) quick tips.. but as I began to order my thoughts, I realized there's actually a lot here.. so I will break this up into a few articles

Here then is the first section: Lightroom general tips

Lightroom Flavors - Standalone vs Creative Cloud

Adobe has been pushing their "Creative Cloud" services for some time now. On the one hand, this may be a good deal for some - their current offering for photography is a bundle with Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99 a month or so

For those who never had Lightroom as a standalone app, there may well be good reasons to choose to use the Creative Cloud version. However, I started out with Lightroom 1, so I'm kind of married to my ways.. I wanted the standalone version... and it was surprisingly difficult to find the right option to purchase the upgrade and get the standalone version and installer.

If you just go to www.adobe.com, and follow links to Lightroom or products you inevitably get force to the Creative Cloud versions... the Buy now buttons only lead to Creative Cloud options. It's like Adobe doesn't want you to find the standalone versions... the trick is they call it "desktop".

As of this writing (October 13, 2017), the correct link for the US store where you can find the standalone versions is:
http://www.adobe.com/products/catalog.html?filters=pf_252Fdesktop&page=8

Lightroom UI - Second Second Screen

I can't tell you how many times while editing, I've gotten the "second screen" up by accident and it's covering up my web browser (which I use to edit /view / adjust my Smugmug site while working in Lightroom)

When it's in full screen mode, it takes over the whole second monitor and provides no clickable buttons to close or minimize.

To get out of this mode either find the second monitor button on the bottom of the UI (screen cap to come) and click it, or use the F11 key to shut it down.

Lightroom UI - Getting Stuck in odd view

So you're editing away ... maybe typing in keywords or captions and suddenly the UI changes. The UI goes gray or black and all you see are your photos.

Congratulations! you've just entered "Lights Out" mode.

This mode exists to help you better examine your images without the User Interface (UI) "polluting" the view with light from itself. Personally, I find it annoying and the first time it happened it took me ages to figure out how to get out of it.

The secret.. is to press the L key. Each press toggles to "next lights out view". There are 3 modes: Gray, Black and Oh gods, thank you for NORMAL. Just press L until the display returns to sanity

Lightroom Catalog - Network Share

Common wisdom (and any official Adobe support site) will tell you that no, you can not host your Lightroom catalog on a network Share.

From a technical perspective, this makes some sense - you really don't want multiple people editing the same catalog at the same time - Lightroom wasn't built for this (it's extremely complex to code a system where multiple people may be editing the same things at the same times.. or to prevent such with check-outs / check-ins etc...). Also, almost any network share will be slower than almost any local hard drive, and performance may be hindered.. so it's not really a good idea.

Despite all this, there is a kludge that allows you to work around it. I've been using it for nearly as long as I've been using Lightroom. I am not sharing my catalog with anyone else, I just wanted it to be on my home server where I have regular, religious backups running, etc...

This has served me well until now. However, I was noticing a serious slowness to my processing when I was dealing with massive bulk changes. In the past, my workstation had a spinning hard drive and the network drive was realistically just as fast for most operations for me. However, my workstation is a high end gaming laptop with SSD drives and it is screamingly fast.. and the catalog just can't keep up.

So, in this case, I moved my catalog to my laptop, but kept the photos directory on a network share. This lets me still take advantage of my serious server storage and religious backups.. but lets the catalog work with its disk IO intensive operations screamingly fast.

OK, you've been warned and now, I'll share the hack if you absolutely can't live without your Lightroom catalog being on a network share.

The magic smoke is that you can't just map a network drive through the Windows share.. if you do, Lightroom will detect that it's a network drive and will not allow you to put a catalog there. Instead you must use the subst command:

		subst DRIVELETTER: \\servername\Sharename
	

So, in my case, I use drive L: (for Lightroom dontchyaknow) and so I would use subst L: \\myServerName\LightroomShareName

I had put this in a small batch script that I put in the startup folder for my login so it maps nearly as soon as I log in.

NOTE: The drive will show up in Windows explorer and always claim to be a "disconnected" drive.. but it works properly like a normal network drive and Lightroom absolutely does allow you to use it even though they'd rather you didn't.

Renaming/Upgrading Catalogs

I know that when I upgrade Lightroom, it needs to upgrade my catalog. Furthermore, I know that when I do this, it automatically backs up the original, etc...

However, I am a control freak. I want to manually back up my own catalog and make a new one with the new name.

Start by using Windows Explorer to make a full copy of your catalog directory.. in my case, the original was L:\LRCatalogs\LightroomData-4 (for Lightroom 4). So now you have L:\LRCatalogs\LightroomData-4-Copy

Rename LighroomData-4-Copy to LightroomData-6

Cd into LightroomData-6 and rename LightroomData-4.lrcat to LightroomData-6.lrcat

Rename LightroomData-4 Previews.lrdata to LightroomData-6 Previews.lrdata

NOTE: I do all that then I point LR at the new catalog.. it will then proceed to make a BACKUP of the LR catalog named LightroomData-6-2.lrcat or similar... You can rename that if you choose... use the same basic process.

--The Digital Sorceress