Processing My Way 101 in Lightroom 1.1: Part I

by Ken Milburn

In the past couple of years of specializing in the workflow of digital photography and processing, there are two lessons I've learned above all others: (1) Any organized plan for a regular working procedure will save you hours of time and disaster over having none...and (2) One man's workflow is another man's folly. This is especially true of Lightroom, which continues to surprise me with its richness and power because it's so well designed to look simple. Every day I seem to discover some useful new tweak, so I just roll it in to my listed routine and re-write the list if I decide the addition is worthwhile.

This series of blogs is what I've come up with so far. Part I here starts with my procedure for downloading images from the camera. Actually, I never download from the camera because I don't want to get into that habit and then discover I have to use the camera while I'm downloading. Besides, using an external high-speed USB 2.0 card reader is faster.

First, I take the card out of my camera and use the standard routine to transfer the contents of each card into its own folder. I have one master folder on each drive called Drivename Photos. Each of the folder names in that folder starts with six digits that describe the date the folder was created, in this order: yymmdd.

That way, my folders are always sorted in perfect chronological order from oldest to newest. Following that date is the name of the subject matter that most broadly describes where or what was shot on that card. If the shots were taken for pay, that subject name is the name of the client or of the assignment or an abbreviated combination of the two. If there are several cards shot on the same day for the same assignment, I put all their contents into one folder. Then it's much less likely that I'll loose track of part of the assignment.


2007-07-13 10:51:43
It's great to see other photographers worflow. I can always get ideas and improve mine. Looking forward to this series. Thanks!
2007-07-13 12:47:24
Thanks for sharing, Ken!

It would be great to see the other bloggers here share their own version so we could get many different perspectives from professionals.

stefano giovannini
2007-07-13 13:55:29
My workflow with the folders is very similar. . I keep the orig NEF files without conversion. and I mark the rejects with the reject flag so I do not have to click ok each time I delete a photo. I do have a generic preset that mimics the Nikon in camera JPG.
regarding the DVD back up with this system you back up also the photos that you deleted from the Lightroom. wouldn't it be better to back up after you weeded down the rejects? I wish LR would show the folder sizes - that would make it simpler to fill and burn backup DVDs

Ken Milburn's response:

I convert to DNG from the original RAW format so that I'll have future compatibility with RAW processing version changes and publishers.

I save *everything* I shot on the first DVD just in case there's some little element there that will be useful later. That way, I can afford to be much more merciless in choosing the rejects.

2007-07-13 16:37:19
I think many (most) of us start with a folder system, it's a logical extension of how we collected things as children. But is also says we don't trust lightroom because we have to "help out" from the get-go with these folders. My bold prediction is that one day metadata useage will negate the need for folder conventions like this (but I am not changing any time soon, I still use iView/MS Expression as I love the folder management there!). However, if you've ever used Apple's Spotlight you know the showstopping power of proper fast search. Our photos are no different and properly tagged don't care a jot about folders.

Again, just wild theory as opposed to practice (it will surely make sense to retain a system that allows for log.ical backup systems - and folders nail this). But who knows? All I can say with certainty is that whatever we do now, will change...

You just explained, perfectly, my rationale for using a folder system. As far as I'm concerned, the most important thing is having a uniform system for file organization no matter what part of the file-management and processing routine we're engaged it. We don't want to have to say, Omigod, we were on Earth a minute ago and now we're in gravity-free outerspace. When we gravitate everything to outerspace if and because it works better, then I'm sure it will feel better than having one leg restricted by gravity.


2007-07-14 05:50:48
Why not use the card reader "Tool" from within LR ?
One of the greatest additions in version 1.1 was the auto "electronic eject" of the card once all the image files were copied and imported to the new location

Failure to "eject" a CF card before physical removal can cause corrupt files

We still use folders however we use dddmmyy## the lasttwo # being the number of the session we did that day
eg the first session on 01090701 (1sept2007 first session)

We export using highest file size Least compressed jpg

We use the back-up feature of LR and we use a pair of large drives in RAID configuration for backup during any image file work (so we have three drives with the same files AND burned files on media CD/DVD)

We never cull tell after the burn

We use Archive Creator to archive (Burn) our files
it allows spanning files over several cd/dvd's for AC

cheers !


stefano giovannini
2007-07-15 15:03:45
thanks for the tips/reply. the idea of backing up on DVD and being more merciless in the edit actually is a really good idea. although I wonder how many DVDs you end up having and how do you catalog the backup DVDs? also the filenames won't correspond... but I guess you can always find things by date.

regarding the DNG thing. do you shoot with Canon? I shoot with Nikon and the WB settings are encripted in the NEF file.
I saw that the compressed/lossess DNG is 1 MB or more smaller
than the NEF file. but the pixel dimensions are also different [like 8 / 10 pixels smaller ber side]. that kind of worries me.
If I embed the original NEF file the file size doubles.
what is your workflow with the DNG?
woudl it be worth convering 10000 NEF files into DNGs? would I lose the history?