Posted by: In: Lightroom, Printing 17 May 2017 0 comments Tags: , ,

So after a bit of a disastrous calendar last year, I decided to make my own. Why would I do that? Well my reasons are…
* Shiny paper is hard to write on with anything other than a felt tip.
* Many off the shelf calendars come with bespoke settings (often 1 photo up top, with calendar below) that you can’t edit.
* Many calendars also don’t come with useful important (UK) dates like Bank Holidays etc.

I’m lucky in that I have a decent quality printer that can print A3. A3 is about the right size for our wall space and has room for an A4 calendar on the bottom and an A4 space above for photos. This could be done just as easily on double sided A4 with the hinge in the middle.

This assumes you have Lightroom, a printer, and a bit of a creative head.


Step 1: Make the calendar

To use the print module efficiently, we need an image of the actual calendar month. I used Calendarpedia because it’s a UK site and can auto-add things like Bank Holidays. Their calendars can be downloaded as Word docs, which I did, so that I could go and add birthdays and anniversaries in type, rather than hand write them on in my illegible scrawl. You need to download one Word doc (or pdf) per month. Once you’ve finished editing the calendar, save each month as a pdf file. This will keep it high quality and A4 (landscape) sized.


Step 2: Convert pdf to jpeg/tiff/png & import into LR

Lightroom can’t work with pdfs unfortunately so you need to convert the months to an image format. I used Photoshop (open the pdf then save it as a high quality jpeg) but there are various free online sources for doing this. Once it’s converted, import the calendar month images into Lightroom.


Step 4: Create a Collection

I created a collection set of “2017 Calendar” with a single collection inside it for each month. Into each month, I then added the appropriate calendar page.

Step 5: Find Images

I then went through my library, adding images for each month that were appropriate. Your creative vision has no limit here. Better to add loads and remove later. I used people’s birthdays as a guide, anniversaries, pet birthdays, holidays etc. The great thing about the LR print module is that you can add as many photos as you want, in whatever shape you want.


Step 6: Create Print

For each month, I then set up an A3 custom package and built the calendar page. Remember to make sure that you leave space at the top of the package for the holes you’ll use to tie it all together. To add images, simply drag them on to your A3 sheet and place them where you want. Images can be resized with drag handles (remember to hold Shift to constrain the proportions) You can send back & forward with the right click menu on any image.

Step 7: Tie It All Together

I used a wire binding kit to bind mine, but you could easily punch a hole through the tops of all the months and tie off with ribbon or something more creative. I bought a wire kit from Joyce (direct – avoid inflated eBay prices!) and unfortunately then had to order separate wires from Amazon as the supplied ones weren’t man enough for the job. The kit comes with 6mm wires as standard, but this will only hold 2400 gsm worth of paper. I was using 285gsm paper, and 12 of those tops out at 3420gsm so I had to order 10mm wires just to be safe. The Joyce kit is pretty nice for binding one sheet at a time (it’s not tough enough to do multiple sheets of heavy grade photo paper) and comes with a thumb punch. I went for the heavier kit (this one) as I wanted the leverage of the bar type handle and a sturdier overall machine.

Posted by: In: Lightroom, Post Processing 27 Nov 2014 3 comments Tags: ,

Welcome to part 1 of an unknown length series(!) detailing how to go about organising photos in a sensible fashion.

If you’re anything like me, you take your camera out, you come home, you upload them all into Lightroom, you might go through and delete the rubbish, and maybe you then get called down to spend some time with your family. Repeat this over a few weeks, months or years and you soon end up with a huge catalogue of images that you “might someday” get round to properly organising. When that day finally arrives, you feel overwhelmed by the task because you’ve got x years worth of badly organised, unkeyworded images spread across different folders. Some are great and they have a star. The rest you’re not sure about but don’t want to delete them because… well… you might need them. The problem is that your Lightroom is chock full of images and it’s hard to see what’s good and what’s bad. So you do something else other than organising photos. I don’t blame you. That’s exactly how I felt and so I decided to do something about it. I did a bit of research on the web, and came up with this process which actually worked!

Main caveat: This post is NOT intended for professional photographers who shoot for a living, and also not intended for people who are already great at organising! This isn’t the “right” way to do it either. This is simply an overview of how I did it, and of how I can now find the images I want. The biggest part of this whole process is learning the ability to self-critique.

Let’s get cracking…

Before We Start Organising

Before you start making any changes though, my advice is to back up your stuff. More importantly, your settings, configurations and your photos!

Isavemetadataf you have already done work on images in Lightroom and want to save this work, you need to save those changes within the LR application. If you don’t do this regularly, then go into your catalogue(s) and do CTRL+A to select all your images followed by a CTRL+S to save the metadata. This will force save things like ratings, labels, keywords, flagging and anything else you’ve done to the image files. We’ll be stripping most of this when we re-organise so you might ask why bother? Well, this just gives you a “saved state” to go back to if everything goes wrong.

Once your work is saved, you can move your photos and Lightroom settings somewhere safe. I’d suggest a remote hard drive, but moving them to a safe part of your hard drive is ok too. I just dumped a backup copy of my entire “Pictures” folder to my external hard drive. I also moved copies of my catalogues.

In Lightroom, a catalogue is just that. It’s a pictorial representation of all the photos in it. I could have 5000 photos on my hard drive but only 500 in my catalogue. So when I open the catalogue, I only see 500 photos. The other 4500 are still there on the drive, but I can’t view or do anything with them in Lightroom unless I import them.

You can see the location of your catalogue by clicking Edit>Catalog Settings. Under the “General” tab you can see the location. Clicking “Show” will take you to that folder in Explorer and you can copy/paste it to the same backup location as your photos.

The last thing you might want to back up are your Lightroom settings. These will remain until you completely uninstall Lightroom from your PC. The work we’re doing won’t require a re-install of Lightroom, but it’s probably good practise to back this stuff up anyway. Losing your presets can be a pain!

Lightroom settings are found in Users>YourName>App Data>Roaming>Adobe>Lightroom.

So there are three things that make up your image collection.

1. The Photos: These have the actual image data, and all the metadata (when the photo was taken, EXIF data, keywords, etc)

2. The Catalogue: A collection of settings in LR that apply to a group of photos. (Pointers to the photos in that catalogue, smart filters, preview sizes, etc)

3. Lightroom itself: All the settings that remain constant all the time (Export functions, filter presets, develop presets etc)

Once you have a safe backup of all the data and you’re in a position to be able to restore everything in case of disaster, you’re ready to make a start. The first thing we’re going to do before we even open Lightroom is sort out our images into a decent folder structure.

Folder Structure

folder_strucTo the right here, I’ve got an image of my folder structure. Yours may look a lot different!

I like to keep all my pictures in one place, no matter what they are. So my actual digital photos that I’ve taken sit alongside all sorts of other stuff.

I have a folder for each years worth of images, and then separate folders broken down as follows.

  1. Export_” folders are all generally empty. My Lightroom export presets are set up to export to these folders and when I’m done I remove them. “_Digital Frame” is the digital photo frame I bought for the in-laws. They’re not computer savvy, so when I shoot something I think they’d like, I just export to here. When they come over, and bring their USB stick, I just delete/replace with the new files. “_Photoshop”, “_Print” and “_Wallpapers” are all different quality exports.
  2. Assets are all my… Assets…. Website PNGs, icons, gifs, borders, textures, stock. All that stuff goes in here.
  3. Events are specific events. For example, my daughters’ proms resulted in a lot of photos. Weddings (there-as-a-guest) also generally get a lot of shots in them, and they clog up my catalogue. By having a “portfolio” folder, I send the absolute best to there and just basically archive the rest in Catalogues that will rarely be referenced again.
  4. Gaming is all my gaming screenshots. War Thunder and Kerbal Space Programme feature highly on here, and I have War Thunder skins and Battle for Wesnoth maps as well as Neverwinter Nights portraits. There’s a lot of gaming art here and as I will likely work on that separately, I don’t want it clogging my normal photo folders.
  5. iPhoneSync is for the phone.
  6. LR Catalogues is where all my catalogues sit. This was a mess before and I’m determined to keep it simple this time!!!
  7. Older Images are all my parents (and grandparents!) neg scans. From 1940 through to about 1985. There aren’t many of these.
  8. Portfolio is where I copy all my absolute best photos. I do this through Lightroom though and we’ll cover this in a later blog, so just set up an empty folder for it for now.
  9. Scans are literally document scans. They’re for household bills more than any artistic requirement, but Lightroom can make indexing and finding them very easy.
  10. Lastly, my blog screenies. These are just a dumping ground for the images (mostly screenshots) you see on the blog.

Within each folder there are some categories that have further folders. My 20XX folders all have a subsequent folder relating to the shoot, but it’s not required. Lightroom will be your sorting and “finding that picture” tool.

Once you’ve set up like this, you’re ready to get started. Because all our photos are now nicely organised, our whole cataloguing task can be broken down into bitesized chunks. When I first set this up, I did each year on one sitting in an evening. It was easy to remember where I was up to and the whole task was much more manageable.

Our next step is to look at Lightroom itself, the basic functions you might want to set up, and some talk about catalogue management. We’ll go through that in the next post (which you can find here when it’s up!)

(Edit – part 2 is here)


Posted by: In: Lightroom, Post Processing, Techniques 24 Nov 2014 2 comments Tags:


So… *cough* It’s been a while… *cough*. I’ve been putting off doing any updates mainly because of the amount of time that’s passed since I last wrote anything. However as usual –  my photography bug has gone full circle, and I’m getting back into things again. I’ve also been doing some teaching at the local college which has taken a fair bit of time but the course is done now until January, so I have a little time on my hands.

To start with, I’ve been looking at my workflow. Lightroom is my tool of choice for photo management and my whole folder system is a mess.

I have about ten catalogues – mostly all messed up and used for different ideas and projects. I have literally thousands of images shot since 2006 (when I went digital) not to mention the scanned negs…

It’s a daunting task to sort it all out, but after sitting down with a pen and paper and trying to come up with a plan, I think I’m there.

So over the next few weeks I’m going to document it here with some Lightroom workflow tips. Catalogue strategies, keywording strategies, and the basic concepts of thinning out a huge photo database. Hopefully this may help the budding photographer who has struggled with “too many” photos.

Here’s the basic process:

  • Save existing metadata
  • Back everything up!
  • Organise photos into proper folder structure
  • Build catalogue template
  • Create catalogue #1
    • Import everything
    • Add copyright metadata to all photos on import
    • 1st pass critique – delete the absolute rubbish
    • 2nd pass critique – remove the duplicate/similar images keeping only the best
    • 3rd pass – give 1 * to all the really outstanding photos
    • 4th pass – stamp “portfolio” / 5* images for passing to a Portfolio catalogue
    • Export portfolio images
    • Save metadata
    • Optimise catalogue
  • Create catalogue #2, etc etc.
  • Portfolio catalogue
    • Keywording
    • Markup for processing

It’s not a quick process. I’ve created a catalogue for each year. It’s far more manageable to do in chunks. I also have a catalogue for Screenshots, Old family photos (scanned negs) and a Portfolio catalogue.

We’ll get cracking with the pre-work later in the week.

Have fun!