Thursday, January 22nd 2009

Major Lightroom Project Completed

This blog has been dormant for about three weeks, so sorry to anyone who was expecting regular posts. My blogging tends to come and go.

The reason for the outage has been a fairly huge, crazy project that I started on some time after new year: Moving all my Raw photos into Lightroom. (Up until now I have only used it to organize my developed JPEGs.)

Until now I have used the Canon software Raw Image Task to turn my CR2 files into JPEGs. I liked the fact that it produced the same output as the camera itself in JPEG mode.

But it got to the point when Lightroom had so much going for it I just couldn’t keep making myself use the, by comparison, useless Canon software any more.

Here are all the things that made me switch:

  1. Not having to keep all photos as both Raw and JPEG. That saves me about 20 GB of space on a drive which is beginning to fill up.
  2. The vastly superior user interface in Lightroom. Lightroom makes it so much easier to get the white balance right, and has a much wider range of settings to help you save the slightly failed photos. Fill Light and Recovery are really useful for saving under- and overexposed shots.
  3. Simplified workflow: Lightroom does it all. Import, development, organization, keywording. I don’t have to keep switching programs all the time.
  4. Lightroom suppresses hot pixels. This was the straw that broke Raw Image Task’s back. By accident, when I was developing my star trail shots I noticed that Lightroom somehow can detect those pesky red, green and blue pixels that appear in really long exposures and replace them with something more reasonable. I have no idea how it does this but I love it.

I’m sure there were other reasons too that I can’t remember right now.

The only thing I find negative with switching to Lightroom is that I can’t reproduce the look that the camera outputs. But this may change given some time, since Lightroom allows you to import and use different base profiles for the Raw conversion.

Anyway, here’s what this little moving importing project entailed:

  1. Importing roughly 7,700 photos
  2. Copying keywords, captions, titles and location metadata from each JPEG to each CR2 file. This had to be done one photo at a time. Ctrl+Shift+C, Enter, right arrow, Ctrl+Shift+V, right arrow. 7,700 times. Easily worth it. :)
  3. Finding good defaults for the develop settings. Then going back and changing my mind about them again. And again. And again. And the going back to some previous settings.
  4. Tweaking white balance and exposure for all photos, one by one. (Lightroom doesn’t read any settings saved by Canon Raw Image Task.)
  5. Copying spot removal data for all photos taken at small apertures.

Well, now all that is done. I’m going to keep my JPEGs around for a while before I clear the space on the hard drive, just because that is the kind of thing you usually regret doing if you don’t think about it for long enough first.

Have some HDR shots from the Xmas holidays that I might post here. Uploading to Flickr at the moment.

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