Exporting Revealed: Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure

by Mikkel Aaland

With Lightroom, you can export one photo at a time, or many. Most export choices are made in the Export dialog box, where you can enter a name and select the file format, size, color space, and more. If you are exporting a catalog, choices are found in the Export as Catalog dialog box. Let's see how it all works.

This excerpt is from Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure. Completely up-to-date for Lightroom 2, this beautifully illustrated and eminently practical book offers a complete tour of Adobe's integrated digital photography workflow application. Augmented by photos and case studies from a demanding road test in Tasmania, award-winning photographer Mikkel Aaland explains how Lightroom allows you to import, select, develop and showcase large volumes of digital images.

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You can export images from any Lightroom module by using the filmstrip to make your selection (circled in Figure 9-1). Make your choice, then use the menu command File→Export, as shown in Figure 9-1. Or you can use the keyboard shortcut ⌘+Shift+E (Ctrl+Shift+E), which brings up the Export dialog box. You can select and export one batch of images with one set of settings (for instance, save as JPEG), and then, before the export process is complete, start another export with a different set of settings (for instance, save as TIFF). The export progress is noted in Lightroom's Progress bar (or bars, if you have two operations running at once), as shown in Figure 9-2.


Figure 9-1


Figure 9-2

Export Methods

There are a variety of ways to export:

Export from the Library module To export from Lightroom's Library module, start in the Grid view and select the image you want to export. Select File→Export from the menu, or click on the Export button at the bottom of the left panel, as shown in Figure 9-3.


Figure 9-3

Some other useful export menu commands are found in all modules:

Export with Previous The menu command File→Export with Previous bypasses the Export dialog box and applies the last Export dialog box settings to your images. It places your images in the previously designated destination folder or location.

Export with Preset Selecting File→Export with Preset, as shown in Figure 9-4, makes all your export presets (both the default presets and those created in the Export dialog box) available without having to go through the Export dialog box.


Figure 9-4

Export as Catalog This option is relevant if you want to create a new Lightroom catalog that contains previews and references to selected images. After this selective catalog is created, it can be imported and incorporated into another Lightroom catalog.

NOTE If you press the Option/Alt key in the Library module, the word Export at the bottom of the left panel becomes Export Catalog. Use this to export a selection of images as a standalone catalog or if you want to incorporate a set of images into another catalog.

Navigating Export Dialog Box

Figure 9-6 shows the Export dialog box that you get when you choose Export from the File menu or at the bottom of the Library module's left panel. Here, you make export choices such as destination, file name, file type, and so on. In Lightroom 2 this dialog box is also a gateway into using and managing Lightroom third-party plug-ins. Let's go through all the options.


Figure 9-6

Choose a preset

Lightroom ships with some commonly used export presets: Burn Full-Sized JPEGs, Export to DNG, and For E-Mail, as shown in Figure 9-7. These are the same presets you see when you select File→Export Presets from the menu bar. You'll probably want to make some of your own export presets as well. I show you how, later in this section.


Figure 9-7

Plug-In Manager

At the bottom left of the Export dialog box is a button that reads Plug-in Manager. Click on it to open the Lightroom Plug-in Manager dialog box, shown in Figure 9-8. (You can also get to the Plug-in Manager from the Lightroom menu bar: File→Plug-in Manager). Here it's really easy to add and remove third-party plug-ins and make sure they are working properly by checking their status. If you are online, clicking on the Plug-in Exchange button takes you directly to the Adobe Lightroom Exchange website, which is full of useful plug-ins—some free, some for sale.


Figure 9-8

“Export [...] selected photos to” menu bar

At the top of the Export dialog box is the “Export [...] selected photos to” menu bar, circled in Figure 9-9. (The number of images selected to export will appear instead of [...].) Here, using the up and down arrows and the subsequent pop-up window, you can choose where your images are exported to. By default Lightroom 2 gives you two export choices: Files on Disc, and Files on CD/DVD (which won't be an option on 64-bit Windows). If you have installed third-party plug-ins, such as the SmugMug or Zenfolio upload plug-ins from Jeff Friedl, or Digital Railroad's plug-in, these will also show up here as an option. Subsequent options in the Export dialog box will vary depending on your Export To choice.


Figure 9-9

Export location

Export Location is an option when you select Export to... Files on Disc or Files on CD/DVD. Choose a destination for the exported images by clicking Choose. Click on the triangle next to Choose (circled in Figure 9-10) and you get a pop-up menu with shortcuts to the most recent destinations selected. Check Put in Subfolder, and you can name a new folder that will reside in the selected folder. Select Add to This Catalog to automatically import the exported image data back into the Lightroom catalog. You can also have the exported images reimported and stacked with the original file in Lightroom. From the Existing Files pop-up menu, you can choose how files are handled when Lightroom encounters files with the same name. (I just leave the setting at Ask what to do.)


Figure 9-10

File naming

You can customize a file name in this field (shown in Figure 9-11) or just leave it as is. A preview of the file name appears in the Export dialog box (circled). Regardless of what you do, Lightroom automatically adds the appropriate file extension based on your file format choice. File naming presets are also available, as shown in the Template pop-up menu. If you select Edit from the Template pop-up menu, you can make a preset of your own. The Filename Template Editor dialog box, shown in Figure 9-12, appears when you select Edit. (I discuss how to use the Filename Template Editor in Chapter 3.) When you are finished, select Save Current Settings as New Preset from the Filename Template Editor's Preset pop-up menu (circled).


Figure 9-11


Figure 9-12

File settings

You can choose from the following file formats: JPEG, PSD, TIFF, DNG, and Original, as shown in Figure 9-13. You can export only one file format at a time, but as I said earlier, you can start one export before another is finished, effectively exporting multiple formats nearly simultaneously.


Figure 9-13

File format Image settings options vary from format to format. When you choose JPEG, for example, you can also choose the amount of compression with the Quality slider (circled in Figure 9-14). If you select TIFF, you can choose between Compression: None, Compression: LZW (which is a lossless compression algorithm and 8-bit only option), and Compression: ZIP (another lossless compression algorithm for both 8-bit and 16-bit). If you choose Original, there are no image-setting options. Original, after all, sends an exact copy of your original image to the destination of your choice. If you choose DNG, there are several important options to choose from, which I cover in detail later in this section.


Figure 9-14

If you choose JPEG, PSD, or TIFF as a format, you are presented with several Image Settings options, shown circled in Figure 9-15. Here is a summary of your choices:


Figure 9-15

Color space Choose between sRGB (narrower space, used for the Web and many desktop printers), AdobeRGB (wider space, commonly used in image editing applications), and ProPhoto RGB (wider color space, but not widely supported). Other brings up user-specific profiles to choose from.

Bit depth If you select the TIFF or PSD file format (but not JPEG), you can choose between 8 or 16 bits/component, as shown in Figure 9-16. It's best to use 8 bits unless you are planning to perform more image processing in another application where the extra bits give you more data to work with.


Figure 9-16

Image sizing

Lightroom 2 offers different ways to determine the dimensions of an image. If you leave Resize to Fit unchecked, the original dimensions of your image are maintained. Select Resize to Fit, and several options are available via the pop-up window, as shown in Figure 9-17:


Figure 9-17

Width & Height is an absolute constraint.

Dimensions applies the long value to the long edge of the photo regardless of orientation.

Long Edge and Short Edge apply the selected value to either the long or short edge of your image. The second value is determined by the aspect ratio of the image and may vary from image to image.

Don't Enlarge is shown circled in Figure 9-18 and when used with Resize to Fit, ensures that no enlargement interpolation is applied and that the copy never contains more pixels than the original.


Figure 9-18

Enter a resolution as pixels per inch or pixels per centimeter. The default is 240 pixels per inch, as shown in Figure 9-19. (Even if Resize to Fit is deselected, you can enter a new Resolution value.)


Figure 9-19

Output sharpening

New (and much welcomed) to Lightroom 2 are output sharpening options, shown circled in Figure 9-20. Here, as long as you've haven't chosen Original or DNG, you can select appropriate sharpening based on the final destination of your file. Correct sharpening, as many of you may know, is based on many factors.


Figure 9-20

Sharpening for screen or web viewing, for example, differs from sharpening for a print. And sharpening for a print depends on others factors as well. For example, what kind of paper are you using? Know very well that sharpening is as much a personal preference as a technical issue, and you'll just have to experiment and see if the new Lightroom export sharpening works as well for you as it does for me.

An image here would be good, you could do the whole dialog box again for context or a pretty sharpened image.


Under the heading of Metadata, as shown circled in Figure 9-21, you have three options:


Figure 9-21

Minimize Embedded Metadata If you don't select this option, Lightroom includes all the metadata entered in the IPTC fields. Select it, and only copyright metadata is included with the exported photos. (Not an option for DNG files.)

Write Keywords as Lightroom Hierarchy Regardless of which file format you choose, you'll have a choice of how keyword metadata is organized. If you check the box to Write Keywords as Lightroom Hierarchy, applications that don't support this option will still display your keywords, albeit without hierarchical structure.

Add Copyright Watermark Check this option, and Lightroom adds the name that's entered in images' IPTC copyright field, at the lower-left corner of every image (circled in Figure 9-22). (Not an option for DNG files.)


Figure 9-22


If you choose to Export to Files on Disk from the top menu, post-processing options appear at the bottom of the Export dialog window, as shown in Figure 9-23. Here you can instruct Lightroom to do several things after export is complete.


Figure 9-23

Do nothing If you select this, after export you'll return to the Lightroom module in which you were previously working.

Show in Finder/Explorer If you select this option, shown in Figure 9-24, after export, the files are displayed in an Explorer window (Windows) or Finder (Mac OS) window. I love this export option and use it all the time. It saves me from the "Where the heck did that file go?" frustration.


Figure 9-24

Open in Adobe Photoshop CS3 (or other designated editor) Opens an exported image in the designated external editor set in Lightroom preferences after Lightroom applies the parameters (file format, bit depth, size, and so on) set in the Export dialog box or Preferences/External Editing.

Maybe add photoshop interface here, definitely some kind of image.

Open in Other Application Choose this option and then use Choose (circled in Figure 9-25) to select an application such as Preview (Mac) or Windows Photo Gallery (Windows). When Export is complete, your images open in the designated application.


Figure 9-25

Go to Export Actions Folder Now This takes you to and opens the Export Actions folder, where you can place any executable application, shortcut, or an alias of an executable application. If you do this, the next time you choose Export, the alias you added to the folder will be listed in the After Export menu of the Export dialog box. You can also add Photoshop droplets or script files to the Export Actions folder.

Adding a Custom Preset

New User Presets can be easily added by making your selections in the Export dialog box and then selecting the Add button at the bottom left of the dialog box, circled in Figure 9-26. In the New Presets dialog box, name your preset and designate a folder for it to reside in. To remove a user preset, select the preset and then click Remove at the bottom left of the Export dialog box.


Figure 9-26

DNG Export Options

As promised earlier, here are the choices you have in the Export dialog box when you choose to export a DNG file (circled in Figure 9-27).


Figure 9-27

JPEG Previews

Choices are None, Medium Size, and Full Size. Larger sizes increase the total file size, but provide a ready-to-print JPEG proof.

File Extension

Choose between an uppercase and a lowercase extension.

Image Conversion Method

It's best to use Preserve Raw Image. Select Convert to Linear Image, as shown in Figure 9-28, only if you know that your RAW file contains unusual mosaic patterns not supported by all converters.


Figure 9-28

Options: Compressed (lossless)

Select this, as shown in Figure 9-29, and your DNG file will be about one-third smaller than the original RAW file with no tradeoff in quality.


Figure 9-29

Options: Embed Original Raw File

Select this, as also shown in Figure 9-30, and an exact copy of the original RAW file is embedded within the DNG file, which becomes about two-thirds larger than the original file. At this time, you'll need the Adobe DNG converter to retrieve the embedded RAW file from the DNG file.


Figure 9-30

Figure 9-31 represents a DNG file with the original RAW file embedded, and it weighs in at 25 MB. Figure 9-32 represents a DNG file without the original RAW file embedded, and it weighs in at 10.4 MB. Big difference! (I took the first shot of a Tasmanian devil with a Nikon D3, and Leo Laporte took the second shot of our intrepid guide Joshua with his Canon 5D. The original RAW files for both images are very similar in file size.)


Figure 9-31


Figure 9-32

NOTE DNG stands for digital negative. Use Lightroom to export proprietary RAW data files--or JPEGs or TIFFs--into DNG. (File→Export, or, in the Library module, Library→Convert Photo to DNG.) This archives your photos, accompanying metadata, the original RAW file, and a full-size JPEG preview (if you wish) into an open format that is more likely to be compatible with future software applications.

If you enjoyed this excerpt, buy a copy of Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure.