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How do I save Lightroom image edits in source file?

Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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My experience with the trial version of lightroom is very positive in terms of the convenient and powerful capabilities for editing images and the associated metadata.  But I can't find a way to save the "develop" edits to images into the source file for the photo I am working with.  So far, I am able to save the metadata into the file but not the image editing.  From what I read, I fear this is not possible without silly round about exporting to new files then copying / moving multiple copies around, etc. Without this ability, I am pretty sure I will not purchase lightroom and will miss out on all the powerful features.  Without an OPTION that turns on the equivalent of a SAVE button, managing my photos collection would be a nightmare. 

So my question is: How do I save the edited (i.e., developed) version of a photo back into the same file where the original photo was stored?

Please, please spare me all the reponses telling me how stupid I am for wanting to do this and that the cognisenti and professionals would NEVER do this.    But please just tell me there is a secret place to turn on this option in lightroom.

Thanks in advance.

Papa Ben,

LR stores everything you do in its catalog. The word "catalog" in LR--speak denotes not your images but the data base where LR stores everything. This data base (the catalog) is a file with the ending < .lrcat> and you can see where it is located by going to >Edit >Catalog Settings >General tab.

This storing or saving to the catalog is happening constantly and automatically and you do not have to hit a <save> button.

Stored or saved in the catalog are your edits and everything regarding image management (including location of your image files), captions, keywords, etc.

For this reason it is all-important that you preserve and protect your LR catalog just as you have to preserve and protect your image files. That means you (a) should know the location of the catalog and (b) you should do back-ups regularly. Without the catalog you would still have your image files but your edits and all what you did in LR would be lost.

LR does not write into the original image file. But there is the possibility to save edits in a xmp-file which is a small file that (normally) sits besides the image file. You do this saving to xmp-file either in the Library Module by going >Metadata > Save Metadata to file (or shortcut Ctrl./Cmd. + letter "S"), or in the Develop Module by going  >Photo >Save Metadata to file - or again Ctr. + S.

With DNGs it's a bit different; with DNGs Lr writes the edits into the header of the file. But the procedure is the same.

Saving to XMP (or into the header of a DNG) is not necessary because LR saves everything in its catalog - automatically. Saving to XMP (or into the DNG-header) has the effect that the edits you do in LR are now visible in any other Adobe program that can read XMP-files (or DNG files) - for instance Adobe Bridge. But for LR it is not necessary.

And there is one caveat: While LR saves everything in the catalog, not all the things you do in LR are written into XMP é DNG. So only the LR catalog saves everything you did in LR.

To answer your question: You do not have to save the edited version of a photo back into the original file. LR saves your edits in the catalog automatically and will display your edits because it reads the original image file and then applies the edits to it for display.

WW

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How do I save Lightroom image edits in source file?

Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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My experience with the trial version of lightroom is very positive in terms of the convenient and powerful capabilities for editing images and the associated metadata.  But I can't find a way to save the "develop" edits to images into the source file for the photo I am working with.  So far, I am able to save the metadata into the file but not the image editing.  From what I read, I fear this is not possible without silly round about exporting to new files then copying / moving multiple copies around, etc. Without this ability, I am pretty sure I will not purchase lightroom and will miss out on all the powerful features.  Without an OPTION that turns on the equivalent of a SAVE button, managing my photos collection would be a nightmare. 

So my question is: How do I save the edited (i.e., developed) version of a photo back into the same file where the original photo was stored?

Please, please spare me all the reponses telling me how stupid I am for wanting to do this and that the cognisenti and professionals would NEVER do this.    But please just tell me there is a secret place to turn on this option in lightroom.

Thanks in advance.

Papa Ben,

LR stores everything you do in its catalog. The word "catalog" in LR--speak denotes not your images but the data base where LR stores everything. This data base (the catalog) is a file with the ending < .lrcat> and you can see where it is located by going to >Edit >Catalog Settings >General tab.

This storing or saving to the catalog is happening constantly and automatically and you do not have to hit a <save> button.

Stored or saved in the catalog are your edits and everything regarding image management (including location of your image files), captions, keywords, etc.

For this reason it is all-important that you preserve and protect your LR catalog just as you have to preserve and protect your image files. That means you (a) should know the location of the catalog and (b) you should do back-ups regularly. Without the catalog you would still have your image files but your edits and all what you did in LR would be lost.

LR does not write into the original image file. But there is the possibility to save edits in a xmp-file which is a small file that (normally) sits besides the image file. You do this saving to xmp-file either in the Library Module by going >Metadata > Save Metadata to file (or shortcut Ctrl./Cmd. + letter "S"), or in the Develop Module by going  >Photo >Save Metadata to file - or again Ctr. + S.

With DNGs it's a bit different; with DNGs Lr writes the edits into the header of the file. But the procedure is the same.

Saving to XMP (or into the header of a DNG) is not necessary because LR saves everything in its catalog - automatically. Saving to XMP (or into the DNG-header) has the effect that the edits you do in LR are now visible in any other Adobe program that can read XMP-files (or DNG files) - for instance Adobe Bridge. But for LR it is not necessary.

And there is one caveat: While LR saves everything in the catalog, not all the things you do in LR are written into XMP é DNG. So only the LR catalog saves everything you did in LR.

To answer your question: You do not have to save the edited version of a photo back into the original file. LR saves your edits in the catalog automatically and will display your edits because it reads the original image file and then applies the edits to it for display.

WW

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People's Champ ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben,

LR stores everything you do in its catalog. The word "catalog" in LR--speak denotes not your images but the data base where LR stores everything. This data base (the catalog) is a file with the ending < .lrcat> and you can see where it is located by going to >Edit >Catalog Settings >General tab.

This storing or saving to the catalog is happening constantly and automatically and you do not have to hit a <save> button.

Stored or saved in the catalog are your edits and everything regarding image management (including location of your image files), captions, keywords, etc.

For this reason it is all-important that you preserve and protect your LR catalog just as you have to preserve and protect your image files. That means you (a) should know the location of the catalog and (b) you should do back-ups regularly. Without the catalog you would still have your image files but your edits and all what you did in LR would be lost.

LR does not write into the original image file. But there is the possibility to save edits in a xmp-file which is a small file that (normally) sits besides the image file. You do this saving to xmp-file either in the Library Module by going >Metadata > Save Metadata to file (or shortcut Ctrl./Cmd. + letter "S"), or in the Develop Module by going  >Photo >Save Metadata to file - or again Ctr. + S.

With DNGs it's a bit different; with DNGs Lr writes the edits into the header of the file. But the procedure is the same.

Saving to XMP (or into the header of a DNG) is not necessary because LR saves everything in its catalog - automatically. Saving to XMP (or into the DNG-header) has the effect that the edits you do in LR are now visible in any other Adobe program that can read XMP-files (or DNG files) - for instance Adobe Bridge. But for LR it is not necessary.

And there is one caveat: While LR saves everything in the catalog, not all the things you do in LR are written into XMP é DNG. So only the LR catalog saves everything you did in LR.

To answer your question: You do not have to save the edited version of a photo back into the original file. LR saves your edits in the catalog automatically and will display your edits because it reads the original image file and then applies the edits to it for display.

WW

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Thanks to Web-weaver for the thoughtful information about LR's catalog database.   That is all very impressive and fine, but my question is whether there is an option to save the edited image back into the file where the original came from.   I realize I don't HAVE to do this and I don't think anyone shoule HAVE to do it, but, in most cases that is what I WANT to do after editing (developing?) my photos.   Is there an OPTION of some sort in LR that makes it possible for me to save my images in place?

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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You did not specify what file type you are working with. From what I know, or think I know, You can only save this data imbedded in the file only if the file-type is .DNG. If you are editing a .jpg or raw file, you will get a sidecar xmp file with the develope edits. I don't know if there is any such software that can do what you are hoping to do. Perhaps propriatary software from Canon, Nikon, etc. can embed into their own raw file, but such software generally has such limited functionality. This is the main reason Adobe created the "open source" .DNG file type in the first place. "open source" in this case is a misnomer as Adobe has a pattent on the file type. .DNG really needs to be unlocked from the clenches of Adobe for it to insure success, if it even can.

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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To show you what an amateur I am, I use jpeg files for my photos.   Previously I have used Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Picasa, Picture It, Paint Shop Pro and a number of other products that have a "SAVE" button that allows me (after suitable warning pop ups) to save my edited image -- horror of horrors -- right in the same file where the original source image was before.  I find the metadata and image editing (developing in LR lingo?) feature of LR superior to these others for my needs, but LR apparently will not allow me to do what all those other packages allow me to do, that is, store my edited image in the same file where the original unedited image was to begin with. If I can't find an OPTION for doing this, I'm afraid that's a showstopper for me.  Pleas understand  I'm not suggesting that LR force users to do this, only that they provide an OPTION which allows users to do it if they choose to turn on that option.

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Again, my take would be to keep the original file untouched and save a duplicate images in the same folder (Image01_v2.jpg) I believe once you make all the edits you would export the image to the same direstory as the original. At this point you would have two images, Image01.jpg and Image01_v2.jpg. You need to keep in mind that LR is a non-destructive editing process. This keeps the original image unedited,but can apply these changes when desired, preferable to a separate file.

With standard editing software you may make all the adjustments to the original and save the same file. But down the line, if your monitor was giving you a poor representation of the image, the edited file will need to be tweaked again....reducing its quality with each new edit.

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People's Champ ,
Feb 18, 2012

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You wrote: "...  store my edited image in the same file where the original unedited image was to begin with."

Why is that so important for you - I'm not being sarcastic or anything, I just don't see the importance of it.

Also: If the image files are JPGs it is not a good idea to save / store edits in the original image file.

JPG uses a "lossy" compression; that means that by compressing the image file to a smaller size on disk, JPG throws away image information that is lost forever.

By subsequest savings more image data is being thrown away to the effect that image quality degrades with each saving of the original file.

You save your JPG the first time when you bring it from camera (or card reader) to your hard drive. Then you edit it and save again. Then you don't like the first edits. edit it again and save again.

This is not a good procedure for JPGs. If your camera creates JPGs you'd be much better off with LR that saves edits in the catalog and does not touch your JPG so that it is saved only once - when you bring it into the computer.

WW

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Web-weaver and asd23e,.   You are very kind to try to save me from myself, but I do understand about lossiness in jpegs, lossy compression, wavelet compression and all that ... and I appreciate your trying to let me know what's good for me.  But, unwise as it may be in your mind, it is important for me to be able to operate in the fashion I describe.    I want to know if the approach I am asking for is possible at all in LR -- not whether it is right or wrong.

As to the catalog, it would be great if the catalog would save each previous version of my image so I could back out of edits if I want to.   That would be fine as a way to save me from myself,  but I want the edited version of the image on disk in the original file -- not in a database or sidecar file of some sort.  Is that possible using LR -- without exporting to a different file then playing an error prone shell game with the multiple files to get back to where I want the file to be?

--papaben

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Mentor ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben wrote:

But, unwise as it may be in your mind, it is important for me to be able to operate in the fashion I describe.

LR will likely never allow you to overwrite your originals.  That's contrary to the entire non-destructive philosophy of the way LR works.  This is a good thing.  Anyone wanting to cut up or paint on their film negatives would be well advised to reconsider their entire operational strategy.  I suggest the same for you.

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People's Champ ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben,

You write " but I want the edited version of the image on disk in the original file". The short answer is: Not possible in LR. Period.

The catalog preserves previous edits in the history in Develop Module (left panel). All what you did in the Develop Module is listed in chronological order and you just click on any of the previous states listed in the history panel and you are back to that state. Also you can take snapshots of important steps in the editing process. But the hitory is strictly only for steps you take in the editing process. If - for instance - you`d change the caption of an image several times, there is no way to go back to the first caption - unless you remember it and can do it manually.

WW

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People's Champ ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben,

I respect what you are saying. But let me tell you that Lightroom forced all (or most)  of us to rethink our workflow and change it. We had workflows that were based on programs that are different from LR (mine was based on Adobe Bridge) and we had to adjust to working the way LR wants us to work. Why? Because LR is a formidable and fine program that is appreciated by many professionals  who do not want to miss out on the feature that LR offers. So we changed our workflow. And looking back - it was for the better.

I have read posts by some beginners in LR who say I don't like this or that, and if that's not possible, I'm not using LR. That is absolutely fine. If you think LR is not for you. Fine.

But you miss out on a very capable and professional program.

WW

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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WW, You wrote:

'You write " but I want the edited version of the image on disk in the original file". The short answer is: Not possible in LR. Period.'

That's what I was afraid of.   But I was hoping there was some well-hidden option that would let me do it.  Thanks for addressing the question I asked.

Very disappointing.  The rest of Lightroom is just what I was looking for.  Looks like I'll have to keep using the mishmash of inferior products I've been using.

On the bright side, it saves me some $$.  

Thanks to everyone for your efforts to save me from myself.


--papaben

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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WW, Your comments on changing one's workflow summarize my dilemma better than I could myself.  Thanks again.

-- papaben

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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I'm not trying to sell you LR. But the answer is actually No, and Yes.

No, you can not overwrite(save) the original file with the edits you made in LR.

Yes, you can include the edits to a duplicate file, and if you choose, delete the original. This (Export) process in LR would be the equivalent of saving and replacing the original file as a new edited file in most other software...PSP, ACDSee, Picassa.....

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 18, 2012

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It seems to me that the last thing you would want to do would be to save all your changes to your original master file. Suppose in the future that you decide you want to take a different approach, create a black-and-white, or a split tone image, or maybe you decide you want to take a completely different approach. If you have saved all of your edits to your master file then you don't have that master file to go back to as an original. I don't know if you have considered using virtual copies, but that is a good approach. And when you have adjustments made to the master file that you like you can export a copy of that image that contains all of those changes, but you still have the master file in its original state (or at least that can be restored to its original state). Someone suggested reevaluating your workflow. If you are unwilling to do that, then perhaps Lightroom is not the best choice for you. As we try to help you understand the benefits of NOT saving to your master file, you are relating that to your current workflow and it doesn't make sense. In that same vein, what you want to do doesn't make sense to most of us. Fortunately, there is not really any one "right" way to do things. But I certainly would not want to try to make Lightroom do what you are asking for.

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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JimHess, Believe me I do understand how the workflow you use works for your purposes and I certainly hope no one interpreted my question to imply that anyone elses workflow was wrong or that they should use my workflow.  I would not dream of suggesting that.  I completely agree with your statement that there is no single right way to do things.   I was just asking if there was an OPTION that I could turn on for ME to use.  Since every other photo editing software package I am aware of (including those from Adobe) has that option, I must not be the only one who finds it useful.  Even modest little Picasa finds a way to keep a copy of the original in a subdirectory but lets me save to the original file.  In fact, from the strident reaction in this forum, it appears to me that it's the Lightroom developers and their disciples who are insisting there is only one right path to image-editing salvation -- or it's the highway for the rest of us.

As I said at the beginning I am really torn between the power and convenience of the image and metadata editing capabilities of Lightroom and the lack of an OPTION OPTION OPTION for me to save my edited files in the way that suits me.   There is no real justifiable reason to force people into your mode of operation in order to make use of the rest of the wonderful features of the package.  They are completely separable components.   But you are right, given the realities of the situation,  I have to decide whether on balance it's worth it to me to pay for terrific photo editing software that, for no good reason, forces me to change my way of dealing with my photo collection.   I sure wish did not have to make that decision.

--papaben

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Hi ASD23E,  In fact I already AM SOLD on the image and metadata editing components of Lightroom.  They are terrific.   And I did spend a day experimenting with variations of your suggestion for exporting to an edited file -- either with a changed name or in a subfolder.   But, one has to be very careful with that approach.  Depending on the exact flow one uses for exporting, it involves several extra steps, multiple copies of files that one has to keep track of and a set of "develop" deltas stored in the database.   I found it very easy to lose track of what was where and, in one case early on, ended up with cropping being applied twice to an image.    

The Picasa approach works OK for me.  When I do an overwrite/save, they make a copy the original in a subdirectory for me. That way, it's tucked out of the way of my main work area where I know I can find what I consider the final versions of files.   And of course, there are many cases where I actually want to save both the edited and unedited copies of files and the typical "save as" function works well in that case.   So these are fine alternatives that I've used.   The nice thing is that these other programs provide OPTIONS rather than insisting on THE ONE TRUE WORKFLOW for anyone who wants to take advantage of the excellent image and metadata editing features of Lightroom.

Many thanks for the suggestions.   I'll experiment with alternative ways of getting around this intentional limitation in the software.  I think I've got a couple more weeks on my trial period. 

-- papaben

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Mentor ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben wrote:

Many thanks for the suggestions.   I'll experiment with alternative ways of getting around this intentional limitation in the software.  I think I've got a couple more weeks on my trial period. 

-- papaben

The best way, in my view, is to not save finished images at all.  If you need to export them to a final destination like a printer, a file for printing at a service, a file for putting up on the web, or whatever, export it to that destination and then get rid of it.  In some cases, you don't even need the intermediate file, such as when printing locally.

There are special cases where it's necessary to keep a finished, rendered file, but it doesn't sound to me like you're at that point, nor anywhere close to it.  If you are, just put it in a subfolder of the orignal like "prints" or "finished", or whatever.

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Thanks for the suggestion, Lee.   But I've had too much experience with databases to trust them with all that hard work.  That's not even a remote possibility.  I'm curious if the developers of Lightroom save only the original copy of their source code on disk and then keep all their work perfecting it as deltas in a database.   Not a chance.   The latest version is always available to work with and earlier versions are available if one has to back off changes.   You don't keep only the original version of a document or a powerpoint presentation on disk and all your valuable editing of the documents and presentations in a database.  It's nice to be able to back off to previous versions, and I would appreciate that ability (as in Picasa or Google Docs), but I want the latest version stored on disk.   I appreciate the fact that you have such faith in databases and I salute you for working that way, but I would not even consider it for myself.

-- papaben

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LEGEND ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben wrote:

But I've had too much experience with databases to trust them with all that hard work.  That's not even a remote possibility.

Which is why you can set your catalog preferences to verify and optimize and backup each time you quit Lightroom. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with using a database to store your image edits...as long as you have them all backed up–which is easy to do with LR. Under the Lightroom menu, select Catalog Preferences...and in the General select the option that makes you feel better. I have it set to daily but if I haven't done a lot of work when I quit, I dismiss the back up via ad dialog.

You really need to get your head around the concept of "parametric" image editing where you don't edit the original pixels but you edit the settings parametrically and store those setting in a database. You edit parameters of the image not the image itself–far more efficient than trying to constantly edit and re-edit your originals...

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Mentor ,
Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben wrote:

Thanks for the suggestion, Lee.   But I've had too much experience with databases to trust them with all that hard work.

Backup the database, and write out the XMP data.  That's two-fault tolerant.

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Explorer ,
Feb 19, 2012

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Your observation on Adobe not saving the changes of their program changes to a database is probably not correct. There are versioning systems that are actually database driven that programming teams use. In your imagined scenario, how would a bunch of programmers working on different aspects of the same program be able to simultaneously perform their jobs?

I know my comments are not entirely germane to this thread topic but too often when reading threads on various forums an individual comes across as a self proclaimed expert in every field attempting to prove their superiority over folks who are simply trying to help them.

Open your mind to the possibility that your way may not be the only way of doing things or may not even be the best way of doing things. Gather input from others and then make the decision as to what is best for you.

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Explorer ,
Feb 19, 2012

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Hi RickBu,  You are right.  The fact is that my original question has been answered -- even if it was not the answer I was hoping for.  Lightroom does not let me save my develop edits by overwriting the source file.  I appreciate suggested work arounds, and will try out the ones that might work for me, then make a decision when my Lightroom trial period is over.  It doesn't do any good for me to explain why a suggestion doesn't work for me.  Worse, it apparently comes across as my saying others should do things the way I do.  That's not what I'm saying at all. 

So the bottom line(s) are that Adobe is not going to change Lightroom to provide the OPTION that I desire and the people on this forum should not have to listen to my reasons that their approach won't work for me.  If there are other suggested work arounds, I'll give them a try, but I think we can all save time by understanding that, FOR ME, using the Lightroom database as the only place to store my edits will not work, so there's really no sense discussing those possibilities in this thread.

Sorry if I sounded critical of your approaches.  It was not intended.

-- papaben

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Mentor ,
Feb 19, 2012

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Papa Ben wrote:

FOR ME, using the Lightroom database as the only place to store my edits will not work

You need to give a reason why a backed-up database, further backed-up by XMP files or embedded XMP inside the files, finally backed-up by writing final, rendered images to a subfolder for images you feel are the most important, and all that backed up on to other media in another location doesn't provide the needed safety.

Frankly, if all that fails, you've probably been incinerated in a nuclear blast so it doesn't matter anyway.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 19, 2012

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Hi Lee,  It's hard to resist rising to the bait.  And I should explain that my screen name has changed (apparently due to a glitch in the Adobe forums database....I'm not kidding). 

But seriously, regarding the database issue, let's just say that I have a personal problem in working with databases and I seem to have a reverse Midas touch in that area,  so I personally get very irrationally nervous and upset when I have to deal with them -- much less administer them.  Backing up and restoring databases is simply not something I want to spend my time on.   It is my own personal character flaw.   It is not a reflection on the software or on the way other people choose to do their work. 

Exporting rendered images and making copies of them on other storage systems in other locations is along the lines of the experimentation I am doing.  That's more in line with my current approach, but, with Lightroom, it does involve extra steps, extra folders and extra copies of the files.  In fact, I have a dropbox-like system that makes copies of files on other storage systems in other physical locations when the files are changed.    I just have find a way -- within the constraints of Lightroom -- to minimize the extra steps, the extra copies of extra copies of files and the confusion that can arise some time later about which are rendered and which are not.

But I repeat, not wanting to depend on a database with all the needed backups and restores, etc. is a personal failing of mine.  It is not a reflection on the Lightroom system nor on the way others choose to get their work done.

-- papaben and papaben17 (even the forum user database saw me coming )

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Enthusiast ,
Feb 19, 2012

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Papa Ben 1 -> 17,

I think I understand your concerns.  Since LR is designed for best data practices, it is unlikely to change.  Let me tell you how I would handle the situation if it was me. I would be concerned with the following scenarios:

-Failure of the LR database. (Clearly this is of great concern to you, but not too much to others).

-Loss of your images due to your computer being stolen, crashing, or other problem.

-Loss of your images due to natural disaster or similar (fire, flood, tornado, earthquake, etc).

I would assume that the entire LR system would usually operate normally, but I would want a backup.  If I thought there was a high probability of LR failure, I would not use it at all, but use a non-database program.  So I would setup an external drive and an appropriate folder structure that might or might not be the same as the one where I store originals.  Any images that I thought were important (it might be all) I would adjust and export to the external hard drive.  If there were images I thought were bad, I would not bother to delete them, but simply mark them with the "X" flag and set it so those disappeared from view, but were still there if I ever had to go back.  To keep it simple, when I exported a completed image to the external drive, I would mark the original image with a color (I use purple for a final image).  If I might  work on the image in another program or if I thought it was particularly valuable, I would export as a TIFF.  Otherwise I would export as a 100% JPEG.  The reason you export it and not overwrite it is that if you do not trust databases like LR, then you certainly want a final copy that is not subject to LR.  You also keep your original in case you want to do more with it.  It is the best of both worlds.

The external hard drive would be backed up twice.  I use those little portable drives that don't need external power.  One copy stays on site in a media fire safe and the other goes into a safety deposit box.  Now you have protected your original image, saved the final adjusted ones, and protected everything from loss.  Periodically, say once a week or once every few weeks, depending on how often you work on your images, you update the in-house backup copy and then swap it with the copy in your safety deposit box.

You need to prioritize your concerns.  If you feel there is a significant risk in using LR's database, then you have to expect to lose some of its streamlined workflow and do a few simple extra steps.  You can still use your LR setup for your normal work, but know that if LR decided to eat your images, the final adjusted images are safely stored and backed up.  Since LR can work on numbers of images at a time, the extra steps it takes should only take a few minutes.

John

John G. Blair Studio

Occidental, California

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 19, 2012

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Thanks for your thoughtful reply, John.

I should clarify that my concern is not for a backup system.  I have one in place that I feel comfortable with.   It has survived disk crashes and stolen computers in good shape. 

My concern is that, when I start making multiple copies of files with the export process, (some edited, some original, some with metadata saved to file, some not), I have a tendency to lose track of which is which.   A friend has suggested a system that I believe will work pretty well when I am bringing new collections in from my camera or scanner.   I just put them into a folder outside my normal photo folder tree.   Then I make a pass with Lightroom, add captions, fix the dates on the scanned images, and touch up or overhaul the images as needed.   After that pass, I export the files to my usual folder tree for photos.  The originals won't be copies all over in my backup system and I can then delete them at my leisure.  (I know, I know.  you professionals cringe at that thought, but I'm not a professional, and the system has served me well over many years.)  I'm getting comfortable with that approach of just bringing new collections in off to the side somewhere and then using the wonderful metadata and image editing features before exporting the processed images into my main photo storage system.  Editing the images and images in Lightroom is really fun.

When I'm going back over my old collections with Lightroom, I'm not so sure what to do.  I have to learn more about your suggestions to mark an image with a color or with an X.  I should know about those facilities, but I don't.   I appreciate your bringing them to my attention.  They sound like features that would help me keep track of various copies of photos when I'm working with my old collections.

And your thought about the database for the tree with all the final adjusted images is just what my friend said.   If I, in my clumsiness, trash the Lightroom database, I can just delete it and have Lightroom rebuild it because all the images in that tree are final, adjusted images.  I don't lose any of my previous editing or metadata.

This is looking hopeful.   Thanks.

-- Ben

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New Here ,
Feb 23, 2012

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Jeff, I've been working with Lightroom for a short while.   My learning curve at present concerns metadata and saving it upon export.

I don't mind minimizing the metadata for exported files, as copyright is the most important detail for my uses.  But even when I export with

metadata *not minimized, I cannot find my copyright listed anywhere when I click "get info" on my exported image.  Can you explain why

I do see my copyright listed in the LR metadata panel for an image before export, but later cannot see it embedded in the exported file?

Thanks so much,

Barbara B

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New Here ,
Mar 20, 2012

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Seems to me that the OP's original question is a very valid one...

Suppose you are using Lightroom to edit a photo (do some color manipulations etc.) and then want to have a copy of that photo's file to send to a friend or otherwise. Well, you're not going to send your complete Lightroom program and catalog to your friend, you only want to send a JPG that he/she can open and see the edits you have made to the photo.

I would think that the way to do this would be to just export the image to a new file, probably in a different folder someplace. Once this is done, you can do whatever you want with this file and still have the original in its original location.

Am I wrong?

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 20, 2012

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Californiajay,  You are correct in your description of what you can do by exporting the edited version of the image to a new file other than one that contains the original source.    Yes that is possible.

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 16, 2012

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I had the same requirement to save in JPEGs files all non-metadata edits performed in Lightroom, in order to share modified pictures without duplicating files. By the way, I think it’s going to be more and more required by casual Lightroom users, as people get used to instant photo sharing in many situations where quantity matters more than quality

Here’s a nearly automatic (at least, scalable) solution that works, although it slightly lowers the quality by re-compressing the original pictures.


  1. Once for all:
  • Download and install the wonderful Lightroom plugin “jf Run Any Command”, provided as donationware by Jeffrey Friedl here: http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies/run-any-command. This “export filter” plugin allows you to run a command of your choice with each exported file, as part of the export while it’s going on. (You may also browse Jeffrey’s blog to find many other useful and beautiful things.)
  • In Lightroom, pre-define an export settings as follows:
    • Export to the hard drive, to the original picture folder, without adding the exported file to the catalog
    • Name the exported file “EXPORTED-{Filename}” (or anything different from the original file name)
    • JPEG format, 76% quality (see An Analysis of Lightroom JPEG Export Quality Settings at http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies/jpeg-quality)
    • Keep all metadata
    • Here’s the interesting part, the Run Any Command settings:
      • Command to execute for each exported picture: copy "{FILE}" "{Path}\{LIBRARYFILENAME}" (this replaces the original file with a copy of the exported file)
      • Command to execute upon export completion: del {FILES} (this deletes all exported files).

NB: One could wonder why not directly export with the original file name and silently replace the original files (I believe Lightroom would allow this). It’s just a matter of error handling: in case the export goes wrong, no original file is changed at all.


  1. The easy part: each time you want to save edits:
  • In Lightroom, select the pictures to save, and export them with the pre-defined settings. You're almost done. The JPEG files are ok, but inside Lightroom you see the modification effects doubled, as their specifications remain in the catalog database and they apply on modified JPEG instead of the original files.
  • While the entire set of "saved" pictures is still selected, in the Develop module switch Autosync on and click Reinit to erase all modification specifications from the catalog for all pictures, then press CTRL-S to write down to disk any metadata updated by Lightroom -and accept if required to confirm that Lightroom values should replace externally set values.

Stephane

PS: Papa Ben, I'm curious about the decision you  finally made

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Explorer ,
Aug 17, 2012

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Thanks for the carefully thought out suggestion, Stephane. 

I did buy LR3 and worked with it for a month or so -- trying a few different "workflows" to keep track of all the copies of photos.  Strangely I was finding myself struggling to make the sophisticated and powerful "developing" tools lighten shadows and darken highlights -- a frequent need of mine -- to my satisfaction.   So I upgraded to LR4 because the relevant "slider bars" had supposedly been upgraded to be more effective.   After a couple months with LR4, I found myself thinking I really had been doing better with the simple sliders in Photoshop Elements.   So I picked out a batch of photos with strange backlighting, etc.  and gave it my best shot with both programs on several photos.  I found myself spending many minutes with all the sophisticated LR tools and I could not do as well as I could in a few seconds with Photoshop Elements.   I also do a lot of cropping.   Here again, LR has it's own bass-ackwards approach which I'd eventually get used to, but I tend to use different tools on different computers to get my work done so this is another nuisance.  And the thing I do for almost every photo is enter a caption/title and (for scanned photos) change the "date taken."   This I can now easily do in Windows Explorer.

I began wondering why I really need a "workflow" at all for my modest photo editing needs.   I'm just an old man racing to get our huge  collection of digital and print photos digitized, documented with metadata, "developed" in very simple ways (crop, straighten, lighten shadows, darken highlights for the most part).   Do I really want to spend my time reading books about (and then trying to remember) how to set up a proper lightroom workflow and manage the overwhelming number of powerful tools or do I want to get on with the work?

Bottom line is that my workflow for the last 6 weeks is as follows:

  • Windows Explorer for adding and editing metadata
  • Picasa (fast and fun to use) if I only have to straighten and crop photos
  • Photoshop Elements (clunky but effective) if I need to lighten shadows and darken highlights

It's interesting that Picasa keeps a copy of the original when I save my edited file.  But it does let me save the file in place and stores the original in a handy, but out of the way, subdirectory in case I need to go back to it.  Very nice.

Thelonius Monk summed it up: "Simple ain't easy."   Adobe does more than most companies to prove Thelonius right.

Thanks again,

-- Papa Ben

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 18, 2012

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I understand, Papa Ben.

I'm new to Lightroom, and still under the magic of discovery, but really enjoying its superior ability to dynamically select pictures according to pre- and user-defined criteria, as well as to automate publishing (with one ore two plugins installed). I don't use 10% of the Develop tools, but found the ones I use pretty well designed. The big flaw is this missing Save button for casual users like us...

Thanks for sharing your experience. Have a nice and long race!

Stephane

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Participant ,
Sep 19, 2013

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Maybe what Lightroom needs is a "burn to JPEG" command which makes a JPEG copy of a photo with all adjustments and metadata written to it, and stacks it with the original. A kind of hard copy. It could have a special icon badge to visually differentiate it.

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Explorer ,
Sep 19, 2013

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Another easy option would be to just select all the files that you want to replace with processed versions, export them to the same directory as the originals (and telling it to rename the new files to avoid conflicts), and then mark the selected files as rejected.  As soon as the export is complete, delete all rejected files.

I do this all the time with my 0-star photos.  If they don't make the cut, but I'm afraid I might want to keep them -- just in case -- I'll select my 0-star photographs, export to same directory (as JPGs or now as 2mp lossy compressed DNGs), and mark as rejected.  I then delete the rejects after the export is completed.  In this manner, I am essentially replacing the original files with the processed versions (though the filename has an extra number on the end).  It's quick and easy.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 20, 2013

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From time to time you see this argument that "there is no one single right way" to do things. Well, sometimes there is. Saving over your originals is plain wrong, and it shouldn't be encouraged. If the Lr engineers provided such an option it would go against the whole idea of Lightroom, and so it can safely be established once and for all that it will never happen.

Now, what people do on their own time is their own business. If they want to hold a match to their negatives they can do so. But this is a forum dedicated to best practices, and so people would be advised to do this to a copy, not the original.

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Mentor ,
Sep 20, 2013

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Saving over your originals is plain wrong, and it shouldn't be encouraged.

But, that was not the proposal here. It relates just to images that you do not value enough to preserve as large source images on disk, as well as in terms of LR's edits.

By definition: images that you currently regard as a waste of space, as they stand. Normally we will simply delete such, both from disk, and from Lightroom.

This idea first re-imports an exported JPG version, reflecting the edits (as a separate version, not overwriting anything), and then avoids deleting that when the main version IS deleted. So this about retaining a limited-purpose version, instead of nothing at all.

Personally, my only objection to this notion, is that if one values a particular image so little that one does not even want to retain full editability... then one probably should be decisive-minded enough, to just get rid of it altogether

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LEGEND ,
Sep 20, 2013

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twenty_one wrote:

Saving over your originals is plain wrong, and it shouldn't be encouraged.

I don't think anybody is encouraging anybody to save over their originals.

twenty_one wrote:

this is a forum dedicated to best practices

This is also a forum dedicated to figuring out how to use the Lr hammer for more than pounding in nails in best-practice fashion - sometimes you need it to crack a nut too .

If anybody is interested in the absolute easiest way to delete originals after exporting files, download/install/insert Exportant and in advanced settings,

change

_t.enableDeleteOriginalsAfterExport = false

to

_t.enableDeleteOriginalsAfterExport = true

and optionally, change

_t.splatDeleteOk = false

to

_t.splatDeleteOk = true

then a new checkbox will appear:

exportant_delete_originals_after_export.gif

There are actually some other hoops to jump through too, but if you persist, eventually you'll be able to delete originals after export. One person I know is eternally grateful for this feature, probably very few others use it.

To be clear: Normally one keeps originals after export, but for the few odd cases when user really wants an optimized workflow which includes deleting originals after export, that's what this option is for.

And I agree w/21: doubtful Adobe will be adding such an option to Lr native.

Rob

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 20, 2013

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twenty_one wrote:

From time to time you see this argument that "there is no one single right way" to do things. Well, sometimes there is. Saving over your originals is plain wrong, and it shouldn't be encouraged. If the Lr engineers provided such an option it would go against the whole idea of Lightroom, and so it can safely be established once and for all that it will never happen.

Now, what people do on their own time is their own business. If they want to hold a match to their negatives they can do so. But this is a forum dedicated to best practices, and so people would be advised to do this to a copy, not the original.

Well said.

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Explorer ,
Sep 20, 2013

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Mark Alan Thomas wrote:

Maybe what Lightroom needs is a "burn to JPEG" command which makes a JPEG copy of a photo with all adjustments and metadata written to it, and stacks it with the original. A kind of hard copy. It could have a special icon badge to visually differentiate it.

Hi Mark,

Lightroom already has this option.  In the Export dialog, you can choose to export a JPEG to the "Same folder as original photo", "Add to This Catalog", and "Add to Stack" (either above or below the original).  It doesn't have a "burned to JPEG" badge, exactly, but it does give it a badge to show that it is part of a stack, and if this is the only way you create stacks, then that badge might suffice. 

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New Here ,
Oct 17, 2013

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Interesting discussion.  My situation is that I'm using InDesign to make two versions of a book, one version with color illos, and one with grayscale versions of the same illos.  I need to have the "burned" JPG versions of both sets of illos so I can copy one or the other set into the directory from which I "place" the illos into my InDesign doc---and then saving off the color or the grayscale PDF of the book as separate files.

My solution is to have five versions of the files!

(1 Archive) My highest quality archival large-size TIFFs,

(2 Scaled color for placing) a smaller-sized set of the images in color, sized to fit the graphics frames in my book, I make this from (1) with a Lightroom export.

(3 Scaled grayscale source) a copy of the scaled color images  which I tweak in Lightroom to appear as grayscale images in Lightroom.  This is a direct copy of the files in (2).

(4 Burned scaled grayscale for placing ) an exported set of the scaled grayscale source JPGs, I export these with Lightroom.

(5) The "place source" directory that the InDesign doc links to, and in this dir, I alternately copy the color files from (2) or the grayscale files from (4).

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New Here ,
Sep 16, 2015

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This is a fine answer, but the problem the user asks is very real. I've dealt with other programs

(picasa, for instance), that store meta data elsewhere. It becomes a mess when you want to

(almost inevitably) switch programs. I have no reason to believe that Lightroom, great as it is,

will be around forever, or be my preferred program.  Of course, there could be problems with reading the file format as well, but JPEG (IMHO) is more likely to be readable than adobe's lightroom database format!

I really want to be able to easily recreate my set from a simple directory structure and set of

files. Ideally, if there is a simple workflow to 'export' an image after it is edited (a keyboard shortcut perhaps) - that would be adequate....

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New Here ,
Jun 01, 2020

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I cannot resist replying to this old thread. My inner self is screaming at the Adobe’s and other “fanboy” responses, “you are not listening to your customers.”

 

I too am an old guy, in my mid-seventies, having dabbled with computers since 1975. I have been using photo and video software since they were first created. I started with Lightroom at ver 4, and I have asked this question, and followed Adobe over the years, looking for a way to save my changes to the original photo. Adobe always stamps its foot and says, “Yes we understand, but that’s not how it’s designed.” Thus, Adobe steadfastly refuses to give its customers what they want.

 

My needs are simple. I have a photo library of 30,000 photos and growing. I am adding numerous photos using my new Epson FastFoto FF-380W scanner. When I am satisfied with my photos after processing them, I upload them to my Netgear ReadyNAS. Since I have a Plex Media Server on my ReadyNAS, my wife and I can view them on our TV using ROKU on which is a Plex app.

 

Because of Adobe’s steadfast resistance, I am forced to edit the original photo files (jpg) using lightroom’s “edit in Photoshop” link for each photo. Of course, I edit the original because I have long since learned not to rely on any photo that lightroom displays without verifying that it is the original. I thus can share any of my 30,000 photos with my friends using my Plex app on my OnePlus 7 Pro smartphone.

 

I love the way lightroom is designed, except for the foregoing, since my photos, going back more than 40 years, can be massaged on my Windows 10 PC. I keep the library on my PC and Lightroom interacts with that. I run a cloning batch file to synchronize my PC photos and Lightroom catalog with the ReadyNAS.

 

I came to Adobe today thinking that the ability to save changes to a jpg might have been added by Adobe, but “No’, they must maintain the original design. I’m just a typical sucker because I have paid for Lightroom over the years because I don’t have the time to go try to find something as robust for me. Adobe seems to dare someone to come up with a replacement.

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