Post-Processing Workflow in Lightroom

Posted on

To start with, I’m going to assume that you shot all of your photos of the car meet that you just shot in RAW. If you didn’t, you should have.
I’m also going to assume that you have Adobe Lightroom on a computer with a decent amount of hard drive space, memory, and a reasonably fast processor.
Finally, I’m going to assume that you already have been in Lightroom before, and have played around with it, and that you have already reviewed all of the Lightroom tutorials posted on SLR Lounge. If you haven’t, go do that first, then come back here.

SLR Lounge Tutorials

Lightroom 3 Guide: http://www.slrlounge.com/guides/lightroom-3-training-198-9
Lightroom 4 Guide: http://www.slrlounge.com/guides/lightroom-4-training-198-25


IMPORTING

First, copy the RAW files from your SD/CF card to your hard drive. You need to make a folder to load them into. I have a directory that is called Photos on a secondary drive, then under that I have a directory called <Current Year>, then under that I have the event listed as <Date> – <Event Name> (example: 03132013 – We Hungry Meet). under that directory, I have another called RAWs. I place the files in the RAWs directory.

Folder Structure

Next, open LR, and Import your RAW files. While doing so, set the tags, and any pre-processing work that you want (I use SLR Lounge presets to set Standard Import as my default preset.). Make sure that you set it to render 1:1 previews, as that will make developing easier later. Set it to give all of the photos a “2 star” rating.

Now, select all of the photos in the bottom filmstrip, and click on the + icon on the Collections line. You want to Create a New Collection, and Include the Selected Photos. You do not need to make new virtual copies. Name your Collection something useful.

CULLING

Once you have imported the files into LR, you can begin the culling process. What you want to do is to pull up similar copies where you may have taken more than 1 photo from a similar angle, and choose only the best. Too often, I see that people have 2-3 of the same shots, where they just didn’t choose the best one. Don’t do it – its lazy and unprofessional. You can enter Survey mode while in the Library view. Just hit “N” on the keyboard, then click on the ones that you want to view at the same time (CNTL+click). On the photos that you don’t want, set their star rating to 1. On photos that are really good, set their star rating to 3.
When you are done, turn on the rating filter and set it to show 3 stars and above. Go through the ones rated 3 stars and edit them using the Develop module. As you edit them, set them to 4 stars.
When done, go back to your ones rated 2 stars, and pick the best few, and make certain that they are properly exposed. Adjust as needed, and then set them to 3 stars.

Finally, select just the 1 start rated photos – right click and delete them from disk. You will not need them again.

DEVELOPING

I use the SLR Lounge presets, and I recommend them highly. Most of the developing for the majority of your images can be done in less than 5 clicks of your mouse, once you get used to how the presets work.
For an event, like a car meet, you will likely have 150+ photos to edit, and you don’t want to spend several days editing them. Since you have already culled your images, you only need to develop the ones that you have determined are properly focused and exposed. This is where I recommend that you review the SLR Lounge LR training for developing again, to make certain that you understand what the sliders do, or use the SLR Presets for fast developing. Develop one shot, then use LR’s “sync” feature to apply those changes to the other photos that are similar. You may have to group “like shots” and do this a few times for an event.

I also use NIK’s software plug-ins, such as Color EFX, Silver EFX, and Vivenza. They all have specialized purposes. With the NIK plugins, the software creates a virtual copy, and you simply apply the style that you like to the photo.

There is only so much that you can do in LR. While 90% of your needs can be answered with LR, there will come a time when you have to export to Photoshop. If you wish to add a lens flare, dynamic lighting, etc to a photo, you will need to export it over to PS for that type of work.

EXPORTING

Enter Library mode and select all of the photos on the bottom bar. Right click and select Export.Choose an export location (I create a new folder above my RAW folder and call it Forum Images), then choose a name for the exported files (I choose Custom Name – Sequence and then give it <Date>_<Event Name>). Image Format should be JPEG, and color space should be sRGB, with Quality set to 100. Do not limit file size.
If you are uploading to a forum, and using an image hosting service like Photobucket, you should choose to resize the photos to optimize your quality. Choose Width and Height and set them to W=1024 and H=768. Check “Don’t Enlarge” and set the resolution to 72.
For sharpening, set it to High. LR is pretty soft on its sharpening.

Now, go ahead and export to the location that you choose for export.

UPLOADING AND LINKING

There are a lot of options for where you want to store your photos. Two of the most popular ones are Flickr and Photobucket. Either will do fine. I  generally use Photobucket for my car photos that I post on forums, so I’ll explain that process here. Flickr is similar, so use that if you want to.

There is also FaceBook, so I will give you the optimal sizes for exporting your photos to upload to FB as well.

Photobucket

I’m going to assume that you have already signed up for Photobucket, and already know your user name and have logged in. Start by organizing your albums correctly. Create a folder call “<Year> – Car Events”. For each event that you upload, create a new subfolder, and upload your photos to it.

While logged in and in your new folder that has your photos in it, click on the “Organize” link.

pb_organize_link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have clicked on it, you will see that it changes to “Exit Organizer”, and a bottom bar will appear. None of the links in the bottom bar will be clickable yet. Click on the first image in your grid of images, then press and hold the shift key, then scroll down and click on the last image. All of the images will be highlighted with a blue border. Then release the shift key and click on the “Link” in the bottom bar. A new window will pop up with different ways to link to the images that you selected. For forums, you will need to copy the box below “IMG Codes”. Paste that into your post in your forum, and  the images will be displayed.

Remember how we sized the images down to 1024 x 768px? This is where that comes into play. The images are already resized, so that the forum software doesn’t degrade the image quality by trying to resize it smaller.

Now, if you want to upload larger than that, follow these instructions: http://support.photobucket.com/entries/21640110

FaceBook

FaceBook has already published it’s preferred sizes. so all you have to do is export to a size that they support.

Their instructions are:

  • Resize your photo before you upload it. These are the sizes we support:

    Regular photos 720 px, 960 px, 2048 px
    Cover photos 851 px by 315 px

    If you use a 2048 px photo, make sure to select the High Quality option when you upload it.

    To avoid compression when you upload your cover photo, make sure the file size is under 100 KB.

  • Save your image as a JPEG with an sRGB color profile.

https://www.facebook.com/help/www/266520536764594

I upload at 2048px wide, and you can do that by exporting your photos with the Resize option checked in Lightroom, and set the dropdown to “Long Side” and set the value to 2048 px.