3 Useful Lightroom Tips to Speed up your Workflow
As with most other photographers, I rely heavily on Lightroom 6 for my post production workflow. Whilst Lightroom is a relatively simple piece of software to use (especially when compared to its big brother Photoshop), it does in fact conceal many lesser-known features and functions.
1) How to reduce the size of your JPEGs
A couple of years ago, I wrote a review of JPEGMini Pro and how I use it in my workflow to reduce the size of my JPEGs. It’s a great piece of software, but since then, I’ve found a good free alternative that integrates into the Lightroom Export workflow.
If you’re a Windows user you’ll have to use the web version, but for us Mac users, here’s what to do:
Download and install Image Optim.
In your Lightroom Export module, scroll down to ‘Post-Processing’ and select ‘Open in Other application’.
Click the ‘Choose…’ button, then find the Image Optim app and select it.
Next time you export from Lightroom, Image Optim will shrink your images’ file sizes without altering how they look. You can see how much size was shaved off each image, with reductions of up to 50%
Smaller images mean faster transfer times, faster loading websites, saved disk space and less bandwidth consumption. Not bad for a free app!
2) How to significantly speed up Lightroom
There are lots of little tweaks we can make to Lightroom 6 to make it run faster, but if you’re looking for the one change that will bring about the biggest difference, here’s what to do:
Convert your images to Smart Previews. You can do this upon import (‘File Handling’ -> ‘Build Smart Previews’) or in the Library module (‘Library’ -> ‘Previews’ -> ‘Build Smart Previews’)
Disassociate your original image files from Lightroom. You can do this by unplugging the external media used to store the original files, or changing the name of the folder containing the files on your hard drive. You’re essentially ‘hiding’ the files temporarily from Lightroom.
Then start culling and editing as normal. You’ll notice a dramatic speed difference, especially in the Library module where you can cull at speeds on par with Photo Mechanic, even on under-powered laptops.
When you’re ready to export your photos, simply reconnect your external drive or rename the folder to its original name. If you don’t require full resolution, you can actually export via Smart Previews which are lossy DNG files with a maximum size of 2540 pixels on the long edge.
3) Cull from your sofa
Whilst living in shared accommodation without access to a proper desk setup, I inadvertently discovered how to control Lightroom from my sofa.
Even now when I’m back at my regular desk, I use this method of culling down a wedding from 2000 photos to 500 in relative comfort. It’s also a lot of fun, a word not usually associated with culling!
Get hold of a Playstation3 or 4 wireless controller. You can use any number of other controllers, but the PS3 ones are available cheaply and sync quickly via bluetooth.
Download Joystick Mapper.
Map your controller’s buttons to the keys you use for culling in Lightroom. For example, I map the O button to the number ‘1’ and the X button to a ‘0’. Then I map the left and right cursor buttons to affect left and right scrolling, and the L1 button to ‘zoom to 100%’.
Sync your Playstation controller to your computer via Bluetooth following the instructions on the Joystick Mapper website.
With this set up, I can relax on my sofa and cycle through my photos with the cursor buttons of the Playstation controller. Aside from being a lot more comfortable, the physical distance between me and my monitor allows me to assess my photos from a new perspective.
I prefer to cull ‘positively’, so press the O button to mark a keeper and simply skip over the other photos by using the right cursor button. If I change my mind, I hit the X button to mark a photo back to a zero.
Occasionally I’ll need to check the focus on a photo, so I use the L1 button to zoom in.
Finally I filter by 1 star ratings (‘Filter:’ -> Rated ≥★) and bring those images into the Develop module.
I find this process much faster and more comfortable than sitting at my desk in front of the screen, and like I said before, it’s actually quite fun!
This was just a small taster of the 54 actionable Lightroom tips and tricks featured in the popular Lightroom Power User book. Remember to use coupon code planet5d for a 10% discount, and I hope you have a more efficient and enjoyable time in front of your computer!
Mark Condon is a British wedding photographer living in Sydney shooting weddings worldwide. Mark also gives photography enthusiasts a peek at the camera gear of some of the world’s best photographers over at Shotkit.
(cover photo credit: snap from Mark Condon)