Adobe Lightroom Tricks and Tips (pt 2)

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 second section: Keywording in Lightroom

Will Publish

I was having this odd Smugmug experience where I *knew* for certain that I had applied a given keyword to an image / set of images.. but they simply were not showing up. I got so frustrated I even reached out to Smugmug support. They indicated that they did not see the keywords in question in the images and they were not removed either.

I was at a loss.. until I read an article elsewhere with some good tips/tricks and lo and behold the magic smoke I was looking for. “Will Publish”

If you go into your Library module then look in the right under Metadata till you find the Keywording section, you can see the default under keyword Tags: “Enter Keywords”. Change this to “Will Publish” and you will now see only keywords that are set up to actually export

So, what’s going on?

It turns out that when a given keyword was created, it may have been set to not actually export on publish. When this happens, you have a valid keyword that shows up and you can use in Lightroom, but the keyword won’t end up being put in the image you publish / export.

This seemed at first to be silly – after all, I wanted to export my darn keywords.. but it turns out it’s highly useful for more advanced Keywording techniques – hierarchical keywords.. see more below

The gist here though is that if you have a keyword that is not exporting, see if it’s missing from the Will Export view of the image.. if it is missing go to the Keyword list, find the keyword in question, right click and choose the Edit Keyword option and ensure that the “include on Export” option is checked.

Keyword Hierarchies

When I first started using Lightroom, I just used “flat keywords”… add a keyword for “MA”, and another for “Longmeadow” (my former hometown in MA), and then ensure that any images I want to tag for location in Longmeadow, MA I would select both keywords.

This is all well and good, but there’s a lot of magic that Lightroom can do here…

So, if you open up the Keyword list, you can try this… make a “parent” keyword such as a state name (“MA” for Massachusetts in my example), and then add a town in that state (“Longmeadow” in my example). Now, click on Longmeadow and drag/drop it onto MA.

You should now have a MA tag with Longmeadow as an indented sub tag.

Now, if you go and add “Longmeadow” to an image, it will bring “MA” along for the ride … maybe…

Why Maybe? because you need to ensure that the MA tag and the Longmeadow tag are both set up as Include on Export, and further, you must ensure that the Longmeadow tag has the “Export containing keywords” option set. If these are all true then you will be able to tag Longmeadow on a photo and the MA will get added automatically.

You can have many levels of parent/children/siblings…

For instance in my case, I have a tag I named “_world”. It’s a top level organizational tag (I also have “_years” for year of capture and “_meta” for keywords pertaining to meta info like “HDR”, “B&W” etc…). Inside, _world, I have _USA (another hidden tag), then each state where I have photos. so my tree looks like this:

				Windsor Locks

Now, I did not have to, but for matter of mnemonics, I chose to use an underscore to prefix a tag where I mean it to be “invisible” on export.. those tags are set to not include on export.. they’re merely Lightroom organizational tags.. so now when I type Longmeadow, it will tag the image with Longmeadow, MA. However, I don’t tag my USA photos with USA or US.. for now.. but if I ever wanted to change that I would just edit the tag to USA or US and change it to include on export and all my photos would update…

You may have noticed.. there are some dupes… I have Springfield in both MA and VA and Windsor in both ON and CT. Welcome to the real power of hierarchies… If I go to to add the keyword clicking on the link in the keyword list, it will add the appropriate one .. if I go to type it will give me the two options and I can select the right one.. and when used with a keyword that has multiple parents, it notates it using Parent>Child notation.


Using the Keyword List

This is another small tip.. the Keyword List once set up can be really useful for quickly finding all photos that have a given keyword.

In the list, if you notice there is a checkbox to the far left of a keyword. this may be blank, checked or a minus.

Blank means no currently selected photos have this keyword.

Minus (-) means some of the currently selected photos have this keyword
(or that some selected photos have children of this keyword selected)

Checked means that all currently selected photos have this keyword

There is also a white arrow to the far right. If you click this arrow while in the Library module, Lightroom will display all photos that have this keyword in the current library screen

Smugmug Limits on Keywords

While I was in contact with Smugmug support, I got one bit of clarification that you may find useful: Smugmug supports up to 100 distinct keywords per photo.

This is per photo and there’s not really a limit on length of a given keyword.. just that it will ignore any keywords beyond #100

The Digital Sorceress

Adobe Lightroom Tricks and Tips (pt1)

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, 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:

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

Five Things I’ve Learned While Telecommuting

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a job that has allowed me to telecommute for the past two years. It’s a long story, but the gist of it is that I was lucky enough to have had the following conversation with my boss:

ME: “Um, boss, what would the chances be that I could move 500 miles away and keep my job … you know – telecommute?”

BOSS: ~thoughtful look for a moment~ “I don’t see why not”

ME: “COOL! Thanks. Do we need anyone else’s approval?”

BOSS: “I’ll double check with ~general manager~. but he shouldn’t have a problem” … next day … “You’re good to go”

Two two years later, I do not regret it for a moment… and neither has my boss.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been work – a lot of work. What surprised me most was how much work I had to do on myself. You see, I’m a bit of a workaholic. I’m the type of gal who gets a great deal of my sense of personal satisfaction from feeling that I do a damn good job at what I do. This caused me to have to do a bit of mental adjustment and self-monitoring to avoid over-stressing… to strike a proper balance between work and life.

Anyone who works in a field where it is possible for folks to work remotely has probably had ~that co-worker~ the one who says they’re “Working from home” when they’re really “Working” (intentional use of quotes there) from home…. or to put it bluntly – fucking off.

Well, when you’re full-time telecommuting… even when you’re actually working your arse off, there will always be those who assume you’re not actually working. Either because they’re jealous, or because they would just use it as an excuse to goof off on the company’s dime.

So long as those with that attitude are not your boss and are not in your immediate chain of command, you’re generally ok … but surprisingly, there’s one person who you would never expect to feel that way about you … and that’s you.

Yep, because:

Telecommuting Makes You Feel That You Need to Constantly Prove Yourself

I spent the first 6 months of my telecommuting job never taking a lunch break, and never, ever actually logging off work “at quittin’ time” I would regularly end up “staying late” and checking up on work stuff at all hours because I felt I had to prove how much I was working.

I’ve always done that to some extent as it’s my nature as a Type-A personality – I worry, but I kind of went into hyper-self-critical mode thinking I wasn’t working hard enough that everyone was going to think I was screwing around.

It took my boss pretty much ordering me to take care of myself – to take lunch breaks and relax, to trust that she would tell me if she had an issue with me before I finally got the message and reached a good place in my head so that I stopped burning myself out.

That being said,

Staying “Part of the Team” Takes Active Effort

In a regular office environment, just showing up at the office every day – grabbing your coffee, taking a bathroom break – others see you (note to self: proximity of “bathroom break” and “others see you” may not be the best mental image); they know you’re there.

Also, it’s amazing how much input/feedback you get from simply passively hearing the office chatter and from seeing who is talking to whom or who has been in the bosses office with the door closed for the last 30 minutes.

That office gossip and the environment is full of useful information that we make use of… but being “out of sight” can mean “out of mind”… and if you’re not careful to actively participate, there’s a danger of being left out.

My coping mechanism for this was to use Google Hangouts to keep an active conference with my boss and the two other engineers on my team (another of whom was also a telecommuter) we basically made our own little virtual office, and that really made a huge difference. Even with the sound off, my co-workers and I could see when the others were on a phone call or were away from the desk – not in a big-brother kind of way, but in a way that mimics a traditional office.

When all you have is Email and IM, it’s hard to get a feel for someone’s presence and current state… if you IM them or email and they don’t respond right away – are they ignoring you? or are they on a call ? or are they on lunch? In a meeting? Having a chat with someone who is stopped by to ask them a question? abducted by aliens? Who knows?

With that video conference, my co-workers could see me talking on the phone, and I could see them having a conversation with one of the sales reps who stopped by to ask them a question – just kind of getting that visual feedback we take for granted when we are in the same office.

However, it goes beyond that – it means always making sure to keep an eye / ear out for an IM or email coming in and trying to give quick feedback (to the others in the office who may not be in the hangout) so that you don’t leave anyone sitting around waiting for you to get back to them.

There are some really big benefits to working remotely – for you and for your co-workers. one of the most surprising was

Telecommuting Reduces Sick Days

This happens both because you can “tough it out” without worrying about spreading the ick around (which means ~they~ don’t get sick… continuing the chain) and it also means that you are likely to miss out on the latest plague that everyone else who IS in the office trying to tough it out keeps passing around.

Your average office is a veritable Petri dish… because far too many folks are either afraid of getting yelled at or they’re saving their sick days for when it’s important (Monday morning hangovers) or for taking their sick kid to the doctor (after politely bringing the ick into the office)

Working remotely, you get to break that cycle and it’s amazing – Other than an occasional migraine attack, I’ve not needed any sick days… EXCEPT FOR THAT WEEK I ENDED UP IN THE HOSPITAL WITH A COLLAPSED LUNG AND PNEUMONIA BECAUSE I GOT THE OFFICE PLAGUE FROM A QUARTERLY TRIP INTO THE OFFICE yeah that was fun. I can legit say that my job “tried to kill me” that one time.

Still, that week of my life (Actually, I pretty much lost a month to that plague, but only missed about a week of work), I have gotten back more time because…

No Commute Means You Get WEEKS of Your Life Back

Personally, the longest commute I ever had was a 45 minute drive each way (no traffic) that would regularly turn into a 1.5 hour drive due to traffic… and the shortest commute (aside from my current Telecommute) was about 15 minutes each way which never had any traffic… On average, over my career, I’d guess that I spent about 7 hours a week commuting. That’s ~350 hours or 8.75 work weeks a year. That’s twice as much as my vacation accruals.

Okay, so I do drive 7 hours each way to visit the office once a quarter but that’s still 1/15 of the time I spend telecommuting – and since it’s a business trip, I get paid mileage and per-diems on my travel days – hell, I ~could~ fly, but I am the “fly only if it’s more than 8 hours driving” type – I kind of ~like~ road trips where I’m not stuck losing my mind in bumper to bumper traffic…

Oh yeah and that’s one down side:

You Lose Tolerance for Even Minor Traffic

Nobody really likes being stuck in traffic… well, I’m sure Rule 34 even applies to that , but ewww… but most normal people will understand that traffic sucks.

However, one of the things I though would happen when I started telecommuting was that I’d be less annoyed on those occasions when I did encounter it simply for the fact that “at least I don’t deal with this every day”…


It’s turned out to be exactly the opposite. I’ve gotten very very used to not dealing with traffic every day – you might even go so far as to say “spoiled’ because OMG! WHY IS SHE DRIVING SO SLOW!!!!

Yep I’m even less tolerant. I guess I should have seen it coming – I mean I’ve been a user of ad blocking browser add-ons for ages… so when I sit down at someone else’s PC (like doing tech support for my partner or my mom) ALL I SEE ARE THOSE GORRAM ADS! because I’m so used to NOT seeing them that I have lost the ability to mentally block them out.

Well, traffic is just like that to me – any little bit of it gets to me because I’m completely spoiled by not having to deal with it every frigging day.

On the whole, I think I’ve managed to find balance. I have been able prove my worth and to maintain the self-discipline needed to make telecommuting effective for both me and my employer. However, I never lose sight of just how damn lucky I am to have a boss as open to telecommuting as mine has been.

Here’s hoping my luck will continue.

The Digital Sorceress