The new catalog structure in Lightroom version 1.1 solves a lot of problems many photographers had with Version 1.0. The biggest solution it offers is moving images between computers. I wrote an extended blog post on XMP metadata files a while ago and how those could be used to re-import images into Lightroom and retain all of the crucial settings when moving images between computers. All of that can pleasantly be forgotten now - save for a few points about the usefulness of the XMP sidecar files.
In Lightroom 1.1, the catalog structure allows easy transportation of the RAW images, the XMP sidecar files, all previews and the Lightroom settings in one easy step. In this blog post we’ll explore just how that works along with a smattering of catalog settings.
So, lets say that you need to move a set of images you have partially worked up from your laptop to your desktop computer. First select the folder of images - then either select all of the images you’d like to export as a catalog or the entire folder of images (if you want to export all of them). Next, go to File > Export as Catalog as in the image below.
A dialog box (as below) will appear and you can choose where to save the catalog and select whether or not you’d like to include “negative files” and previews. By negative files Lightroom means the original RAW files or alternatively the Tiff or Jpeg files you were working on. As you can see below I have chosen to export the RAW files with their previews to my laptop’s desktop.
Once I have copied this catalog to an external hard drive I plug it into my desktop computer and copy over the folder. When you open the catalog folder you’ll notice that there is a folder with all of the full resolution RAW images in it along with the XMP sidecar files, the previews data with an .lrdata extension and the catalog file with an .lrcat file extension as in the example below.
To import the Lightroom catalog onto my desktop computer now I just go into Lightroom and select File > Import from Catalog.
Once Lightroom is finished importing images, I generally go back and move the RAW images folder (in the exported catalog folder) to one of my main image hard drives. In Lightroom it will ask where those images disappeared to and I’ll just select the folder of images and direct Lightroom to their new location. Pretty simple, but this helps me keep all of my images organized.
Now, just a note on the XMP sidecar files and Lightroom Version 1.1. I still very highly recommend that you turn on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” check box in the catalog preferences in Lightroom Version 1.1 as in the image below. This preference is in a new dialog box but it does all the same things just as before. To get to it, open the main preferences dialog, then in the bottom of the General preferences is a button that will take you to the Catalog preferences dialog.
Using the XMP sidecar files will slow Lightroom down just a bit but it also allows one to delete folders out of Lightroom, then if needed in the future re-import those images with the same settings as they were before deletion. This is a nice option and keeps thing nice and tidy in Lightroom until it becomes a full-on Digital Asset Management tool. Using the XMP sidecar files also helps with seamless integration in ACR 4.1 and Photoshop CS3.
That’s it for this session.
Adios, Michael Clark