I’ll start my rant off by absolving Adobe’s Lightroom from some of the blame related to this problem. For those of you who do not know, Adobe’s Lightroom application helps a photographer catalog and make edits to his/her photographs. The original photos along with all of the non-destructive edits to those photos are stored in a Lightroom catalog. I’ve started each of the past three/four years with a new Lightroom catalog. It just makes sense to me to start a fresh year with a fresh catalog, so 2010 was no different.
If Only The Default Setting Were Different
When creating a new catalog in Lightroom the user is asked where he/she wishes to store the catalog. Since I keep all of my photography-related material on an external hard drive (called “Media”) which is backed up nightly I naturally selected a path to “/Volumes/Media/2010” and Lightroom obliged by creating a catalog file there.
However, for some inane reason when importing photographs into a Lightroom catalog the default path into which they are stored is not the same path as the one defined for the catalog. Instead, the default path for photo import is “/Users/USERNAME/Pictures” and because I’d just rebuilt the machine on which I’m editing photos I’d yet to set up the proper backup procedures for this path.
Last night I noticed that the recent photos that I had imported and edited were not in the proper place and set out to correct this.
A Little Knowledge And A Little Bravado Make For A Big Error
A week or two ago I watched a video about correcting Lightroom Import errors. I vaguely remembered the solution dealt with moving the directory while in Lightroom. So, when I incorrectly renamed the directory instead of moving it I made a bad decision to delete the directory and start again.
When I cranked up Lightroom the next time it corrected the catalog and when I imported all of the files once again, all of my edits were lost. Undaunted I recovered the catalog file from my nightly backup drive to try again.
Workflow, Sometimes It’s Best To Leave Well-Enough Alone
Sometime last year I followed the “bright” idea posed to me at a workshop, that is to rename the files imported to reflect the date and sequence number in which they were imported. I’d suggest NEVER doing this!
When I imported the photos I’d saved off earlier into the catalog which contained all of the edit information, the import process renamed the files again. Now the photo files no longer had names that matched the names in the catalog which contained all of the editing information. DANGEN!
After Much Consternation, A Solution Was Found
So there I was.
I had a catalog containing all of the edits I spent hours making the other night.
I had a compact flash card containing the unedited versions of those photos, all named with the names originally given to them by the camera.
If I attempted to re-import the photos the sequence numbers would be incorrect, so I decided to attempt manual correction.
I imported the photos into the Lightroom catalog without altering their names. And, for those photos I tagged as “keepers” I determined which original photo corresponded to the final edit name that my now-former workflow had assigned to it and changed manually changed its name on the hard drive. Miraculously this worked.
Thankfully I only felt compelled to recover the five photos that I’d tagged as “keepers” as the process of changing the names on the hard drive was frustratingly slow.
The Future And Beyond
I’ve learned two valuable lessons from this fiasco:
- Pay attention to where your photos get placed when importing them into Lightroom!
- Do not attempt to be clever by assigning imported photos with new names, let them keep those assigned by the camera in case you need to re-import them.