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Folder disappeared after downloading images from card

Advocate ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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I have downloaded images from my camera card to a pre-prepared folder on a external hard drive as I normally do, watching the process of bringing images over from the card through Lightroom where I always choose 'Import' and point to. the ready folder 'originals' where the resulting images are copied to. This time, as I sometimes do, I added and uploaded from the same card again, a few recent images to add to. what was already downloaded, I unchecked the images on the Lightroom 'Import' that were already downloaded as I did not want to see them brought over twice. I've done this before and never a problem, but this time Lightroom then showed the entire folder as missing and even in finder view, the folder is gone. I may have lost all of my images because I have now formatted the card for more shooting sessions to come. The strange part is: All of the image previews are still there, I just cannot open in Photoshop or any other app as Lightroom says the images cannot be found. 

I could just do a screen shot of the images I want to keep because the screen image is still there for all of the shots. That would be better than completely losing the day's shoot. Are those screen images in Lightroom a hopeful sign that the original files still exist somewhere? I doubt it but I need to ask.

Anyone with knowledge of how this might have happened or why and if images might still be on the hard drive somewhere, I have searched and they do not show up in the finder. It looks hopeless but I come here for any insight that might save the day on this.

TIA,

Ken

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correct answers 2 Correct answers

Community Expert , Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

Have you tried exporting the images from Lightroom?  Try exporting as .tiffs or .pngs of you haven't already.  I suspect this won't work, but it will at least tell us if Lightroom knows the potential secret location of the files or if they are leftover previews.

 

You can also use Right Click > Show in Explorer to have a folder pop up from the OS with hopefully the photos inside.

 

If you've simply formatted the sd cards, a data recovery program like Recuva may still be able to retrieve those files.

...

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Community Expert , Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

Some comments for @Ken Nielsen 

 

If the image previews show as Missing [!]-  or Folders are Missing [?]

1) You cannot Export derivative files - Requires original files.

2) You cannot Export as a Catalog - Useless if original files are not linked.

If the Originals exist somewhere on the External drive, then you might re-link them in the catalog library by following this article-  MISSING FILES AND FOLDERS-(Computer Darkroom) 

 

IF you have not yet used the camera SD card to take more photos (ie.

...

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Community Expert ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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Have you tried exporting the images from Lightroom?  Try exporting as .tiffs or .pngs of you haven't already.  I suspect this won't work, but it will at least tell us if Lightroom knows the potential secret location of the files or if they are leftover previews.

 

You can also use Right Click > Show in Explorer to have a folder pop up from the OS with hopefully the photos inside.

 

If you've simply formatted the sd cards, a data recovery program like Recuva may still be able to retrieve those files.  

 

How long have you been using the external hard drive?


George F, Fine Art Landscape Photographer

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Advocate ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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Good Reply George, I will try and first question for first recommendation: Export the images from Lightroom... I see a few choices under the file menu that say 'export' so I want to export all as full size-jpegs? so at least I can preserve what I see on screen as previews, they look pretty good. Help me here please as I want to do this correctly.

To you last question, I buy new LaCie drives every few years to save images to for the entire year's shooting. So the drives are new for all practical purposes and I've been saving to external drives using this method for at least twenty years. Never a problem and always follow the same routine. I think from now on, if I evern have additional photos to import I will not risk messing up what has already been downloaded and is on disk, but will start making new folders separately for every import.


Back to your original first idea to export from Lightroom... I am hopeful that this at least will be able to save the full resolution jpeg screen images to disk. Let me know... and thank you. Great idea.

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Community Expert ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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If this was your one shot to export them, .tiffs or .pngs would be ideal as it would preserve more of the file integrity.  If all you are able to do is .jpegs then it's better than nothing.

 

If you choose the main export as dialog box it should give you the option for a variety of file types including .tiff.


George F, Fine Art Landscape Photographer

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Community Expert ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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It may be best to back up the catalog before attempting anything further as well

 


George F, Fine Art Landscape Photographer

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Advocate ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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I will go ahead right now and back up the drive. Good thinking also.

 

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Advocate ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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Okay, first I chose 'Export as Catalog' and it ground away slowly over time and I was hopeful that it had found that secret location you mentioned, BUT, in the end it said it encountered problems and 220 of the images could not be found... which is all of them. So, looks like the images are gone but maybe the screen images can be saved. The 'Export' choice under the file menu is grayed out so I gather that it will resist doing a batch export of those... I have not done any more at this point as would like you comments at this stage and how to proceed on to the next...

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Community Expert ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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Unfortunately this confirms the files aren't there which was suspected.  I was hoping they were just in another spot that only Lightroom was aware of.

I haven't tried this method before, but here is a guide to extract just the previews.  I hope this helps!

https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom-classic/kb/extract-previews-for-lost-images-lightroom.html


George F, Fine Art Landscape Photographer

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Advocate ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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Nope. Wrestled with this for over an hour and script does not show up from within Lightroom. Too bad is is so complex but I followed instructions carefully, it's just not working.

Thanks George for trying to help.

 

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Community Expert ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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I sincerely hope this works out for you in some way.


George F, Fine Art Landscape Photographer

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Advocate ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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My only choice now.... I'm attempting to export as catalog with previews selected in the choices... I'm trying to avoid going through and having to do screen shots of each individual screen preview, but that may be the only choice if this does not work...
Screen Shot 2022-09-25 at 7.07.01 PM.png

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Community Expert ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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Did you get my previous reply with the link?  Did the preview extraction not work well?


George F, Fine Art Landscape Photographer

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Advocate ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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Nope, none of this does anything but give me an empty folder and the error message could not find files.

 

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Community Expert ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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I just want to confirm that you followed the link for the Adobe Help article, and tried the custom script on the page? 

If so, I'm afraid that was all I had to offer.  I wish I could have been of more help.  But someone else may chime in with some additional info so make sure not to delete the previews.

It's still worth checking to see if the sd cards can be recovered as well.  A low level format isn't necessarily the end of the road for the files on them.

Good luck!


George F, Fine Art Landscape Photographer

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Community Expert ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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Some comments for @Ken Nielsen 

 

If the image previews show as Missing [!]-  or Folders are Missing [?]

1) You cannot Export derivative files - Requires original files.

2) You cannot Export as a Catalog - Useless if original files are not linked.

If the Originals exist somewhere on the External drive, then you might re-link them in the catalog library by following this article-  MISSING FILES AND FOLDERS-(Computer Darkroom) 

 

IF you have not yet used the camera SD card to take more photos (ie. it has only been formatted), then you might be able to Un-format with an App to recover the files.   RECUVA 

This was successful for me in the past.  ( 🙂 Asked in a class "How to format"- demonstrated how - then card owner said "now where are all my files!" )

 

IF you only have the Catalog Previews, then you only recourse (after checking the above) is to EXTRACT JPGs from the previews.

@George_F  gave the link for this a 'Script' method.

https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom-classic/kb/extract-previews-for-lost-images-lightroom.html

I prefer the 'Plugin' method by Jeffrey Friedl- As in this Lightroom Queen article-

EXTRACT JPGs FROM PREVIEWS

 

 

Regards. My System: Lr-Classic 12.0.1 Photoshop 24.0.1, ACR 15.0, Lightroom 6.0, Lr-iOS 8.0.8, Bridge 13.0, Windows-11.

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Advocate ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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It sounds promising but what a mess, I'm spending my day with these convoluted and not very easy at all plug-ins and scripts... I think what I have on screen in Lightroom is going to stay and I can just do a screen shot, maybe not the high quality of the original, but it is something I can keep from an important shoot. Much more difficult if this was a paid shoot and I was spending a week then, sorting through  the massive qualtity that was being extracted by RECUVA, Thanks for these ideas and YES, the orginals are gone, I have no idea how that happened but I will be NOT adding imagaes to an already downloaded set ever again. Something went haywire and I just learned that. Thanks everyone for knowledgeable help here. I do appreciate! 

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Advocate ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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That Plug-in, when I clicked on it took me to a hacky looking website in a foreign land, a real mess. Shouldn't it work easily if it is one that you like. What am I missing here, I downloaded but it does not work at all.., please help me see if I can get it working because the idea sounds good and your recommendation sounds good...

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Community Expert ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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Hi Ken,  This link is very legit!

https://www.lightroomqueen.com/accidentally-deleted-photos-hard-drive-dont-backups-can-create-jpegs-...

And the link shown in the article- http://www.lrq.me/friedl-extractpreviews

takes you to a Lightroom Expert Jeffrey Friedl, and the Extract download (.ZIP file)-  No problems there. Very trusted for Lr plugins!

2022-09-26 13_45_57-Window.jpg

Jeffrey lives in Japan. And here is another link to get you to his "Bag of Goodies"

http://regex.info/

 

Regards. My System: Lr-Classic 12.0.1 Photoshop 24.0.1, ACR 15.0, Lightroom 6.0, Lr-iOS 8.0.8, Bridge 13.0, Windows-11.

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Advocate ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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Got it! Installed correctly and it works! Thank You Rob and also George for your careful and complete handling of this case. Problem solved!

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Community Expert ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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YES!  WOOT WOOT!

 


George F, Fine Art Landscape Photographer

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Advocate ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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I have imported those screen previews now back into Lightroom where they can be worked with like any normal image, make copies, do edits... on and on, open in Photoshop or anything else... Whew! A day's shoot saved and while not super high resolution, definitely good and much better than nothing. Thanks Again!

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Community Expert ,
Sep 25, 2022 Sep 25, 2022

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Pleased you have them 'restored'.!

While discussing this topic there are a couple of other points to consider (FI of others)-

If you always create 1:1 previews when you Import files, then you will be able to Extract 1:1 pixel JPGs from the Catalog previews- ie. reasonable 'full-size' files in JPG format.  (As long as LrC has not deleted 1:1s as per preferences after 30days?.)

If you ever create Smart Previews when you Import- then it can be possible to recover .DNG files (of long edge 2560pixels) from the Smart Preview cache. (Filenames will be cryptic). But also useful if originals have been lost.

 

 

Regards. My System: Lr-Classic 12.0.1 Photoshop 24.0.1, ACR 15.0, Lightroom 6.0, Lr-iOS 8.0.8, Bridge 13.0, Windows-11.

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