A flock of pigeons in a gravel parking lot. They are in a spot of sunlight, between two spots of shade.

Light and Shadow: Two Weeks of Lightroom

My Lightroom education the past two weeks has been to alternate two tasks: reviewing forum posts for tips, tricks, and common dilemmas; and uploading, adding metadata, and organizing a limited number of images. I have some work to redo based on my forum reading. Within Lightroom, I have focused on establishing a backup, adding keywords and captions, and experimenting with formats for the title field. I sense that I am still resisting obvious paradigm shifts.

Lightroom Queen

Peter Krogh’s books pointed me to Victoria Bampton as a Lightroom (Lr) resource. I discovered she is the Lightroom Queen behind items in my various Google searches. She has written a number of books (to address the different Lr products/plans) and manages a series of forums for Lr users, where beginner and advanced users are welcome.

I am using Lightroom, which used to be referred to as Lightroom CC. It’s still confusing to just call it Lightroom, because there is such a long history of various products, services, and plans. The Lightroom Queen forums refer to Lightroom as “cloudy” to distinguish it from Lightroom Classic. I have concentrated on reviewing posts related to “cloudy.”

Basically, I am reading all of the posts in the “Lightroom desktop apps (cloud-based service)” forum, 1-3 pages of posts per day, just to educate myself. It is a little tricky, because as I get to older posts (early 2019 and further back), features have been added by now that address some of the post concerns. I’m not sure how far back I should read, as the information will become more and more dated.

I’ll need to tackle Victoria’s books for Lr (she updates them to reflect Adobe releases), and she also has a blog I want to read through.

A red brick building against a cloudless blue sky. The building says Barteldes on the left side and Seeds on the front side. A fire escape is visible on one side.
Reviewing forum posts feels like planting seeds: Barteldes Seeds building in Denver’s LoDo.

Backups: local storage

Before uploading too many images into Lightroom, I wanted to consider storage options. The idea behind the cloud plan is that you don’t have to worry about backing up everything on various hard drives, etc. You trust Adobe to handle that. Of course, who does? Maybe someday; it’s a paradigm shift. I’m actually ready for that, but my husband isn’t. There is an option to store locally, so I have selected that. As best I can tell, the local storage is of unedited originals, no metadata (or not all metadata?); hubby and I agreed this is sufficient. We have Time Machine to back up our hard drive, so we have that redundancy as well.

I’ve seen comments on the Forum stating that the intent of local storage really isn’t for backups, although they acknowledge it can serve that purpose. I’m still figuring it out.

A men with his back to the camera is beginning to walk down a set of outdoor stairs. His legs are no longer visible. A park and buildings are visible in front of him.
Cloud storage? The future. Walk into it.

Adding metadata

I am still struggling with this a bit. I have worked out a format for the title field of my images, but it is a long format. Krogh doesn’t include anything descriptive in his titles – just his name, date, and numbering. I am beginning to see the value of his approach. People in the forums debate how detailed file names and title fields should be, versus relying on keywords for that purpose. What information to enter into the caption field was pretty clear; it is intended to be long-form, so that is how I use it.

Lightroom is a database, and if you are still tempted to organize using folder structure and file name structure, it starts to feel like a square peg in a round hole. You actually cannot edit the file name in Lightroom (cloudy). Can I get comfortable with this? Some users cannot. The Lightroom Queen says “…it just doesn’t matter.” Except that it still feels like it does, or should…or used to. I recognize that I am trying to use the title field as a file name field; is this what I should do? Probably not. Do I need to loosen up on my desire for structure? Probably so; further research required. Another paradigm shift.

The facade of a building. The building is white, but most of it is not visible. Most of the photograph is a metal sculpture with three vertical panels.
The structure represented by this building facade in downtown Denver is what I seek for my images in Lightroom (maybe too much).

What I am delaying for now

  • I’ve taken a break from watching tutorials. Some were way too dated, or were focused on Lightroom Classic (definitely no point watching those if you aren’t subscribing to a plan with Classic). Even for the “cloudy” tutorials, after the first few segments, they all seem to jump into editing. I’m just not ready to focus on that; I am still figuring out how I can consistently organize my images and apply metadata. It was one of the Udemy tutorials referenced in my prior post that first made me aware of the local storage option, so they have been useful, to a point.
  • I want to read Peter Krogh’s DAM 3.0 book, but I think Victoria Bampton’s Lr books need to take precedence. Krogh covers a broader range of material, and I need to stay focused on Lightroom for now.
  • I joined Scan Your Entire Life (SYEL), but I have not returned to scanning at this time. Once I discovered the Lightroom Queen forums, I decided it was best to invest time in understanding the nuances of Lightroom. I want to establish certain standards up front before I get too many images scanned and uploaded; I desire to minimize rework (I’ve accepted there will be plenty). SYEL does address Lr and other tools for managing photos, so I should peruse it next, after I have consumed most of the relevant (i.e., “cloudy’) Lightroom Queen material. I did pay for an annual membership to SYEL, so I shouldn’t delay too long. Maybe SYEL can help me decide on file naming (does it matter?) and how to use the title field.

Make it YOURS

The journey for each of us will be different as we collect family memories (older ones, newer digital ones) and decide what to do with them. Considerations include identifying tools, establishing ultimate goals, and determining how much time and effort we can (or want to) put into a final product. Make your journey just that: YOURS.

A darkened alley in a city has the letters Y-O-U-R-S strung across it, from the front of the alley to the back.
YOURS: an alley in downtown Denver.

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