Adobe Lightroom Folders and Filenames

Adobe Lightroom 2 is a game-changing product for digital photographers. Although I still continue to use Bridge and CS4 I have basically moved all of my workflow to Lightroom.

This was a move that I resisted at first. Lightroom 1.0 seemed like an unfinished product. Promising but too many limitations for me.

However, with so many of the major photo gurus having converted over to Lightroom 2, I decided to check out the new version. I brought down the 30-day trial and I was hooked. The ease of workflow with this product is simply too compelling. Before I updated my workflow, I did take advantage of learning from some excellent resources so that I could quickly master the software and get started on the right foot.

I really enjoyed the Lightroom 2 video course from Luminous Landscape which is available here. And Michael Clark has an excellent ebook on Lightroom. The ebook, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: A Professional Photographer’s Workflow, is available here. Highly recommended.

My own workflow has dramatically improved. From import, metadata, keywording, sorting and editing, I can do more than 90 percent of my work in this product quickly and easily. Lightroom also offers a comprehensive digital asset management capability.

I did have to make one rather significant change. Folders and filenames. To ensure appropriate and unique identification of image locations, I had to shift away from my previous naming conventions highlighted here. And then I had to import a rather large collection of images. Michael Clark’s ebook pointed this one out to me before I started importing my images into Lightroom.

The two screenshots below describe the new naming convention. My subfolders are now uniquely named and tagged with a filetype: yyyymmdd_descriptor_filetype. Lightroom builds up a catalog with, amongst other things, a folder location view. With my older workflow, I used to name the filetype location subfolders using generic names like “DNG Files” and “RAW Files”. Not a good plan.



3 replies
  1. Allen Woolfrey
    Allen Woolfrey says:

    I thought your readers might be interested in a less-expensive Nikon-only workflow approach for Nikon NEF (RAW) image files.

    I use two free downloadable Nikon utilities, “View NX” and “Nikon Transfer”, and Nikon’s $220 “Capture NX2”. Capture NX2 provides Lightroom-like global and local image adjustment. I have not read a head-to-head comparison, but it seems to be comparable. One of the Nikonians podcast “Image Doctors”, Jason Odell, has written a very good e-book on Capture NX2, and has a high regard for it.

    This is my workflow:

    1. Bring up View NX, insert my memory card in the reader, and click on “Nikon Transfer” (top left button in View NX).

    2. Configure the transfer parameters about file name and primary/secondary destinations. My images are transferred simultaneously to my internal hard drive and an external hard drive.

    3. Do a quick inspection of the image thumbnails in the View NX image viewer, and make obvious corrections to white balance and exposure compensation. I could also adjust sharpness, saturation, contrast, highlight protection, and shadow protection in View NX, but I tend to leave this for later in Capture NX2. Note that these corrections can be made to multiple images. (For example, I set up my camera on a tripod aimed at the family while we ate Christmas dinner and clicked the remote periodically throughout the meal. Oops, the white balance was still set on ‘daylight’ rather than flash. No problem to change the white balance of all images at once.)

    4. Still in View NX, assign ratings to the better images. I do this in multiple passes, using the View NX filtering tools to show me a narrower subset on each pass. After the first pass, I look at the images in full screen mode.

    5. When I have my set up best images, I open them in Capture NX2 for finer adjustment. The ratings assigned in View NX are available to Capture NX2.

    In summary, I think View NX is a great tool for me and the price (free) can’t be beat. Capture NX ($220) has much more capability than I have, and is highly regarded by very experienced Nikon shooters. Lightroom 2.0 is $430, and Aperture is $200 and Mac-only.

    I hope your readers find this overview useful.

    Best regards,
    Allen Woolfrey

  2. Richard Cleaver
    Richard Cleaver says:

    Thanks Al.

    A few concerns/limitations about the product set for me: spotty performance on the Mac platform, no support for DNG, Nikon only RAW support (I also shoot with Canons).

    I also do not view Nikon as a leader in image editing software. Nikon uses a third party, Nik Software, to build out the software.

    So, for those reasons and others I would not consider Capture NX 2 a comparable product to Lightroom/Photoshop and I would not consider it a strong choice for me. Sounds like a good alternative for Nikon shooters on a budget and I have heard good things about Capture NX 2.

  3. Allen Woolfrey
    Allen Woolfrey says:

    Excellent points.

    Regarding lack of support for non-Nikons (and even the Nikon P6000!): I wrote to The Image Doctors about processing non-Nikon RAW, and Rick Walker suggested I try using the software that comes with the camera to make basic adjustments, then convert the files to TIFF for processing in NX2. I’m planning to buy a buy a compact with RAW capabilities (maybe a 4:3 when they become available), and I would try this approach before investing in other products.

    I know Rick uses Adobe products mainly, so his suggestion is probably a process for the budget conscious.


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