Lightroom Best Practices: Managing a Travel Catalog and a Master Catalog

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When I travel on a photography adventure, I bring my laptop and use a fresh, empty Lightroom Catalog to collect and manage all the new photographs I create. Then when I return home, I import that “travel catalog” into my main Lightroom Catalog on my Desktop PC (yes, a PC!). Over the years, I have found that this is a nice, tidy way to keep things separate and maintain my master catalog at home without having to lug it around the world with me.

As with many things in Lightroom, the procedure is somewhat convoluted, and has pitfalls that can trip you up. Here’s how to embrace this workflow:

  1. First, before you begin, assess your situation as a photographer - do you have a main home/office computer with your master Lightroom catalog? if you have that AND a Laptop that you take with you on trips, then read on. If you only have a laptop and you take your Master Catalog with you everywhere, then you may not need to embrace this workflow.

  2. Plan a trip somewhere amazing!

  3. Create a new, empty Lightroom catalog on your travel laptop

  4. Ingest (then organize and edit) your new photos to this catalog while you are out taking amazing photos. During Import from your cards as you travel and shoot, be sure to Copy the photos from the cards to your laptop’s hard drive, and make Standard-Sized and Smart Previews as well.

  5. Edit them on the plane ride home, and also make sure that you are completely organized by doing the following preparatory step:

    • In Collections Panel (in Library Module), Create a top-level Collection Set with a distinctive name such as “Iceland 2018 ALL” and then drag everything else (I really mean everything) into this collection set.

    • This step ensures that when you import everything back into your Master Catalog at home, that the different Collections and Collection sets you may have won’t go missing out among your existing collections/sets due to being “shuffled” in with everything alphabetically.

  6. Copy both the travel Lightroom Catalog AND all of your RAW photos (from wherever you stored them during ingests) onto a “go between” portable USB stick or External Hard Drive. To reiterate here - you need to bring both the Catalog files and the Photos over.

  7. Upon your return home, copy everything from the external drive to your Desktop, being careful to place it in a Folder that you can recall.

  8. Fire up Lightroom with your Master Catalog, and Choose the “Import from Another Catalog” option up in the menus.

  9. Navigate in your file system to your travel catalog, and choose it.

  10. Next, ensure you choose the correct option during the import - which is typically going to be “Add new photos to catalog without moving” since Lightroom will have them mapped from where they were on your Laptop in the Folders panel (which you have to fix next..) and you don’t want to duplicate these on your Desktop hard drive. Make sure you have only the photos you want “ticked” over on the right in the grid gallery. Click Import.

  11. After the import, your Travel Photos will be found in your Master Catalog’s list of Collections/Sets with your organizational structure intact, out in your list of Collections Sets wherever that may be, alphabetically.

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Your last step, and one of the most important, is to re-locate all of your travel photos in FOLDERS (not collections!), since you likely have a different hard drive name on your desktop than your laptop.

To do this, simply go (in Library Module) to your Folders, and click on one of your top-level Folders(e.g. “Iceland 2018 RAWs) and click on the “!” or the box at upper right of each missing photo. Once you re-map the location of a photo in each folder, Lightroom will do the rest and automatically update the locations.


That’s it! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Lightroom Best Practices - How to ACTUALLY Delete Images in Lightroom Classic CC

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In this , the first in a series of “Lightroom Best Practices” posts, let’s examine the best way to do what many of us neglect, and what I desperately need to do more of - delete images from disk to make more space.

Lightroom makes it VERY difficult to actually delete images from your computer - and by actually delete I mean to literally get rid of the files themselves - to get them both out of your Lightroom catalog and off of your hard disk and into your Waste Basket / Recycle Bin.

Let’s cover several scenarios - let’s say you are in Library Module active, browsing around in a Collection. Don’t like an image? Just hit “delete” right? Nope. That action will merely remove the photograph from the collection that is currently active.

How about right-clicking” on it? Nope. That action only allows “Remove from Collection.”

How about going up into the menus at the top of the screen and see what’s in the “Photo” menu? Nope. There you only get “Remove Photo from Catalog.”

What if I hold in CMD (Mac) or Cntrl (PC) and then browse to the Photo menu at the top? VOILA! In doing this, we get this option:

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“Remove and Trash Photo.” This is what we want!!

But, doing this one photo at a time isn’t very efficient. So, what’s the shortcut?

As I go through Lightroom, organizing and editing photos, I like to use the “X” key to Flag those photos I KNOW I want to delete. Then, periodically, I will go through and gather all of these “rejected” images into one location, and purge them from my hard drive AND catalog in one fell swoop.

To make this easier - create a Smart Collection, whose one rule is that the photos are Flagged with “Rejected.”

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All of the images you flag with “X” will then be collected into this Smart Collection - which you should use as a good excuse to go back through and make sure that you want to say goodbye to forever.

When it comes time to make the purge, simply[y browse to this Smart Collection, then select all (CMD-A) of the images, and then while holding in CMD-SHFT, go up to the Photo menu at the top navigation and choose “Remove and Trash Photos.”

The August 21st 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

2012 partial Solar Eclipse, East Shore< Lake Tahoe © Grant Kaye

2012 partial Solar Eclipse, East Shore< Lake Tahoe © Grant Kaye

Early on the morning of August 21st of this year (2017) there is a full solar eclipse, visible across most of the United States.


The path of totality starts off the coast of South Carolina, and races across the lower 48 states, making itself visible in Oregon around 9:30-10:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time, depending on where the viewer is located on the path of totality. 

So, where do you go to view this magnificent, once (or if your lucky, twice) in a lifetime event?

Xavier Jubier's excellent interactive Google Map of the path of totality is a wonderful planning tool, as it overlays the moon's shadow (path of totality) over an Google Map that you can pan and zoom, and click on a point to pop-up a window that shows the exact start/finish time of the event (in UTC - subtract 7 hours in you are in the Pacific Time zone) at the location you choose.

Xavier's Planning Page - CLICK HERE

Once you figure out where you are going to be, what can you expect to see?

During a total solar eclipse, if you are underneath the path of totality, the moon passes in front of the sun, and it's shadow falls on the earth and obscures almost all of the sun's light. If you have a long lens pointed at the Sun, you may see solar prominences, as will "Bailey's Beads"  which are the refractions of sunlight around topography of the moon. 

If you are shooting the landscape, with the sun in the frame, you will see an eerie dusk-like sky, with stars and planets, and a near-total lack of shadows on the ground. 

Typically I would go through my archives and post some sample images, but other than the above image made in 2012, I have never been lucky enough to photograph a solar eclipse, let alone a TOTAL solar eclipse. So, I will look to the excellent work of my colleagues to show some examples of what is possible, to get your creative ideas flowing: 

Beware when freviewing the images that are out there, there is a LOT of fakery. If you see an INCREDIBLE image that looks too good to be true, it probably is. 

Mountain Workshops 2016 - Paducah Kentucky

This year's Mountain Workshops have come and gone, and I couldn't be more proud of what my two students were able to achieve in a week's time. 

This year, my timelapse class consisted of Mindy Miller, staff photographer for the University of Florida, and Lex Selig, Western Kentucky University Photojournalism student. Neither of them had shot a timelapse prior to coming to Mountain Workshops in Paducah. 

I love being a part of Mountain every year, it's one of my favorite places to teach for so many reasons. The faculty and staff are all incredible folks, and it's an honor and a pleasure to gather with them in a different town in Kentucky each year to record the stories of the town and it's people. At Mountain, the atmosphere is always electric, and the enthusiasm and dedication to top-notch storytelling are always infectious. 

Check out Mindy and Lex's timelapse project here:

Huge thanks to the major sponsors of the Workshops, Nikon and Canon: Mary, Jeff, Andy, and Kris are the best in the business, all of you always go way above and beyond to get everyone at Mountain incredible gear to use in our storytelling projects. 

Here's an awesome video recap of our week in Paducah, shot by Lonely Planet CEO Daniel Houghton, freelancer Adam Wolffbrandt, and workshops coordinator Tim Broekema. 

Lastly - to Mindy and Lex - (Lex! Go to sleep!) congratulations, you guys #crushedit.

Burning Man 2016 - The Space Whale

Black Rock City, from Old Razorback, Friday Night

Black Rock City, from Old Razorback, Friday Night

It was one week ago tonight I witnessed this incredible sunset over Black Rock City / Burning Man, as the clouds burst into color in between gusts of wind that lifted enormous plumes of dust off the playa and blew them over to smash into me on Old Razorback mountain.

The Black Rock has a way of making sure you know that it is always in charge. I couldn't help but laugh as the dust followed me up the mountain despite my efforts to get away, as if the playa hadn't covered me and everything I brought in enough dust over the preceding two weeks spent on the playa with The Space Whale crew assembling a big whale for everyone to enjoy. Luckily the dust abated and I was able to shoot some panoramas, timelapses, and this amazing sunset before falling asleep, exhausted, on this rocky mountaintop.
After dark fell, lasers from Mayan Warrior (thanks for supporting the Whale!) were painting the sagebrush at my feet, and in the morning, I could actually make out the tracks that Lee Burridge was playing on Robot Heart at sunrise in the still air, ten miles away. The sea of tiny people dancing in the morning light was one of the most beautiful things I've seen in all my years in the desert.

Huge thanks to Kelsey, Lost Machine Andy, Matt, Claire, Lindsays, Lenora, and the rest of the Whale crew for bringing me out of BM retirement and allowing me to help out with your amazing project. Your collective dedication was a much needed reminder that not everyone gets paid at Burning Man, not everyone is rich and living in comfort and luxury, and that dedicated, motivated people are still willing to come together and suffer greatly to make art for no reward whatsoever other than the experience itself. I can't wait to share all the images Michael Okimoto and I made for you all working your hearts out. I'm never going to your stupid dirt rave again.