Stepbystep Workflow For Road Trips

Following is the set of procedures I use when out shooting on location, and download using a laptop computer. Depending on your own computer hardware and software setup, you can follow this workflow verbatim, or use it as a basis for developing your own methods. In any event, the basic steps remain the same.

Overview of steps

1. On my laptop, I create a new, empty Lightroom catalog for each trip.

2. While on the road, I import all new captures into the trip catalog.

3. After returning home, I import the photos (and accumulated metadata) from the trip catalog into the main, "master" catalog.

4. After confirming the import and making backups, I delete all the image files and temporary trip catalog from the laptop, which is then ready for the next trip.

import new photos into the trip catalog, convert to dngs, add all m y custom metadata (copyright, contact info, keywords etc.). I also apply my custom Develop defaults during import (most important is Camera Calibration). Immediately after importing, converting, keywording etc. I save the metadata out from Lightroom into the dng files. This ensures that the edits stick, and using dng a voids the need for sidecar files. The files are backed up immediately to an external hard drive or us b flash drive.

Before the trip

1. On the laptop, launch Lightroom and select File^New Catalog.

2. The dialog box that appears is asking you to give the catalog a name. This will also be the name given to the folder containing the catalog and preview files.

Using your standard naming convention, give the catalog a name, as you would a folder. For example, Tucson_1005. Do not specify a file extension here.

3. Save the new catalog in a place you can easily find. Always using the same location, such as your Desktop or Pictures folder, makes this easier.

4. Clicking Save will create a new folder, with the specified name, on the desktop. Inside that folder will be the new Lightroom catalog with the same base file name.

During the trip

1. Always verify you're working in the correct catalog.

2. Import images from memory card(s) into the trip catalog using the same methods and settings you would at home.

3. As necessary, create subfolders for individual days or locations. Just be sure that all the image files/folders are put in the main trip folder.

4. Verify your imports, making sure that all the desired files have been imported/converted, etc.

5. You can process your files as you see fit during the trip. Remember to save out your metadata as you work (see Chapters 3 and 4 for more about this).

6. While on the road, make regular backups of your trip folder onto a portable hard drive or flash drive. You can do this with drag-and-drop or with dedicated software. Just be sure your backups all remain current during the trip.

7. C ontinually, after backing up your image files and confirming their integrity, reformat your card in the camera before each shooting session.

Back home after the trip

1. Be sure that the trip catalog on the laptop is fully up-to-date and backed up onto the portable hard drive. Also, whether you're using camera raw files or dng, make sure all metadata has been saved to disk.

2. Prepare to transfer/import the files to your main computer in one of two ways:

a. Connect the external, portable hard drive to the computer; or b. Connect your laptop to the other computer over a network.

(Using the backup drive is usually faster and easier; just make sure it's identical to the working files on your laptop's internal drive.)

3. From within your main catalog, select File^Import from Catalog. Navigate to the trip catalog folder, select the .lrcat file, and click Choose (or double-click it) to select it as the import source.

In the Import from Catalog dialog box:

4. Enable Previews to see the image thumbnails (optional).

5. File Handling: Select "Copy new photos to new location and import" Since you're having Lightroom perform the copy for you, in Copy to: select "Choose"; navigate to your main photo drive and select the parent folder that the trip folders will be placed into.

7. After the import has completed, locate the new folders/photos in the Folders panel. (If you had collections in the trip catalog, those will be imported as well.) Confirm the names and locations of the folders and the number of photos is consistent with the original trip files. If anything is out of place, you can rename folders and/or drag and drop to rearrange them (see Chapter 3) or perform additional imports.

8. Synchronize the backups for your main photo library.

9. Wipe all temporary catalogs, files and folders for the trip from your laptop and portable drive.

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