Been using LR recently and thinking of going back to LR Classic. Am "exporting" all pictures from LR to my hard drive. I assume the export funtion in LR set to export originals actually downloads the originals to a new directory set up on my hardd drive. Is this correct?
Far as I can tell the picture sizes fluctuate greatly (from a few KB (clip art) to 35-150 MB) so I assume I'm getting original full-size pictures (from iPhone and various different cameras) put pack into the new directory on my drive.
I have previous backups on external SSDs of the original installation of LRClassic as well, but I want to capture any changes I've made recently working in LR.
Why don't you just enable sync in the Lightroom Classic catalog? If you do that, then Lightroom Classic will download all cloud photos, with their edits. And Lightroom albums will sync into Lightroom Classic collections. Before you do this, go to Preferences - Lightroom Sync and define a normal folder as the destination for these incoming images. You can also tell Lightroom Classic to create date-based subfolders.
There are two ways of doing this, both have advantages/disadvantages:
1. Export as Original, the way that you are doing it, will retain any edits and metadata changes that you applied in any of the Lightroom apps. But it needs you to figure out the folder structure, and more importantly it loses any album organisation that you've likely done in Lightroom.
2. Syncing a new empty catalog, as per Johan's suggestion, is the easiest one to do. It retains all edits, it retains the album organisation, and it allows you automatically place the downloaded images into a date-based folder structure. The potential downside is that any keywords or location metadata that you may have applied in Lightroom is completely lost (keywords and location data do not sync between Classic and the cloud).