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Help Picking Best Photo Management App?

Explorer ,
Feb 26, 2020

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Help. Going a bit bananas. I am diving back into my old photography hobby more seriously and need help selecting the best Adobe program to use. 

Last week, I used Lightroom CC to import >60,000 images into a consolidated directory. I chose to copy each original into a new location (networked drive) and, in so doing, de-duped many thousands of images. Images previsouly spread across iCloud, Google Photos, DropBox etc are now consolidated into this single Lightroom originals folder. This equates to ~400GB. There is another ~700GB of video to be imported, although this may contain significant duplication. 

Next comes the digitization of 10 years worth of slides and negatives (which, of course, has zero meta-data).  Before I embark on that endeavor, I want to have my photography collection management strategy dialed in.

 

Lightroom CC is steadily working to cloud sync. Process is very slow, but steady. Additionally, my network drive is backed-up to cloud (Backblaze), so I feel this collection is well backed up. 

Performance of Lr CC is very slow. I suspect this is due to (a) storing images on a network drive and (b) using a business laptop that is not really optimized for graphic or media work. I am currently looking at a new Dell Precision laptop with 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM, 4GB VRAM, etc. So, I should be able to relocate most images to an internal SSD soon, which will surely help performance. 

Still with me? (Thanks)

 

Is Lr CC the best app for me? 

In my very brief experience with it so far, I'm surprised at the limited functionality for batch changing file names or meta-data at import. Personally, I am not wild about the originals being buried in some cryptic folder structure. I appreciate the ability to simply use my operating system's (Windows 10) file browser to explore folders of my original images. this is something that I could get over.  

 

I used desktop Lr and Bridge long ago and seem to recall more functionality. 

 

My application:

I do not need a lot of editing functionality. (If I really need to edit, I can use Photoshop.) My main concern is organization and management of my photos. I want the ability to find an image quickly. Searching by date, location, or other metadata. To really get there, I will need to edit (and add) a ton of metadata. I want to continuously "enrich" the metadata of my photos with comments, tags, locations, ratings, etc that make the entire collection more navigable. In a perfect world, I could use a program that would edit this meta-data at the image file level. (Not by creating some separate database/library file that can be corrupted or thrown out of sync if the original files are moved around.)

 

What is the best program to use? Lightroom cc? Lightroom desktop? Bridge? Bridge cc?

 

 

Connected question: can Lightroom and bridge be used together to work with the same underlying directory of images? Or, will changes from one program screw-up the library and database from the other?

 

I have read extensively about each of these programs and watched a number of online videos, including the wonderful ones by Terry White. Still, I do not feel that I have the answer.

 

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

 

Regards,

Bart

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Help Picking Best Photo Management App?

Explorer ,
Feb 26, 2020

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Help. Going a bit bananas. I am diving back into my old photography hobby more seriously and need help selecting the best Adobe program to use. 

Last week, I used Lightroom CC to import >60,000 images into a consolidated directory. I chose to copy each original into a new location (networked drive) and, in so doing, de-duped many thousands of images. Images previsouly spread across iCloud, Google Photos, DropBox etc are now consolidated into this single Lightroom originals folder. This equates to ~400GB. There is another ~700GB of video to be imported, although this may contain significant duplication. 

Next comes the digitization of 10 years worth of slides and negatives (which, of course, has zero meta-data).  Before I embark on that endeavor, I want to have my photography collection management strategy dialed in.

 

Lightroom CC is steadily working to cloud sync. Process is very slow, but steady. Additionally, my network drive is backed-up to cloud (Backblaze), so I feel this collection is well backed up. 

Performance of Lr CC is very slow. I suspect this is due to (a) storing images on a network drive and (b) using a business laptop that is not really optimized for graphic or media work. I am currently looking at a new Dell Precision laptop with 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM, 4GB VRAM, etc. So, I should be able to relocate most images to an internal SSD soon, which will surely help performance. 

Still with me? (Thanks)

 

Is Lr CC the best app for me? 

In my very brief experience with it so far, I'm surprised at the limited functionality for batch changing file names or meta-data at import. Personally, I am not wild about the originals being buried in some cryptic folder structure. I appreciate the ability to simply use my operating system's (Windows 10) file browser to explore folders of my original images. this is something that I could get over.  

 

I used desktop Lr and Bridge long ago and seem to recall more functionality. 

 

My application:

I do not need a lot of editing functionality. (If I really need to edit, I can use Photoshop.) My main concern is organization and management of my photos. I want the ability to find an image quickly. Searching by date, location, or other metadata. To really get there, I will need to edit (and add) a ton of metadata. I want to continuously "enrich" the metadata of my photos with comments, tags, locations, ratings, etc that make the entire collection more navigable. In a perfect world, I could use a program that would edit this meta-data at the image file level. (Not by creating some separate database/library file that can be corrupted or thrown out of sync if the original files are moved around.)

 

What is the best program to use? Lightroom cc? Lightroom desktop? Bridge? Bridge cc?

 

 

Connected question: can Lightroom and bridge be used together to work with the same underlying directory of images? Or, will changes from one program screw-up the library and database from the other?

 

I have read extensively about each of these programs and watched a number of online videos, including the wonderful ones by Terry White. Still, I do not feel that I have the answer.

 

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

 

Regards,

Bart

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 26, 2020

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Clarify this, please, which Lightroom are you trying to use? There is nothing called Lightroom CC and in fact Adobe have dropped the CC generally.

There are fundamentally two Lightrooms. One is called Lightroom Classic and has been around since 2007, and is maybe what you used before. The other less-functional one is now officially called Lightroom, sometimes Lightroom Cloudy because it uploads all the originals in the cloud and regards them as the master files, applying adjustments to those files. Any local copies are just cached. I suspect you've been misled by Adobe's naming into installing this, and it's busy syncing your originals up to the cloud.

Go to Help > System Info and paste the first line here, so we can then move forward.

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Explorer ,
Feb 26, 2020

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I am using Lr cloudy. I have it set to copy all originals to a directory on a shared drive. 

My understanding of how this configuration works:

1. Previews are stored with the application on my laptop's c:\ drive. I can browse previews offline. 

2. Full-res originals are stored on the folder I designated on my local network server drive. 

3. Those originals are also synced to Adobe cloud. 

Does that sound correct?

 

 

Question:

as I work metadata to add keywords, tags, ratings, locations, change dates, etc... are those changes being stores on each image file's meta data, or are they associated with the file via some separate library database?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 26, 2020

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I'll rephrase a little:

 

"1. Previews are stored with the application on my laptop's c:\ drive. I can browse previews offline. "

Yes

 

". Full-res originals are stored on the folder I designated on my local network server drive. "

Copies of the full res originals are stored... as a local cache. They're for convenience, to let you edit full res when you are offline and not as backup-quality storage.

 

"Those originals are also synced to Adobe cloud. "

The originals are synced to Adobe cloud. If you delete a file, it will also be deleted from the local cache - which may be desirable, or not.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 26, 2020

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"Question:

as I work metadata to add keywords, tags, ratings, locations, change dates, etc... are those changes being stores on each image file's meta data, or are they associated with the file via some separate library database?"

 

Both versions of Lightroom are non-destructive, so by default all the metadata which you add is only stored in the catalog database. Obviously when you export a copy of the image file, that metadata can be included in the output file if required. Classic additionally has an option to store metadata in the XMP portion of the original image (in an XMP sidecar for proprietary raw files, or embedded within the header of other file-types such as DNG, TIF, etc.), but the cloudy version does not yet have that capability, so the metadata remains only in the catalog.

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Explorer ,
Feb 26, 2020

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Thanks Jim. So, if I am using Lightroom Classic, and I organize my collection of 100+k images and videos with ratings, keywords, locations, corrected capture time/date, etc. etc.... All of that data is stored in the Lightroom catalog database. If that file ever gets curropted, or if in the future I want to migrate to another software program, I am out of luck. I have to re-start all of that cataloging work? 

 

I guess my view of things is that hardware (computers, drives, etc.) is short-term and almost disposable. Software platforms (Lightroom, iPhoto, Bridge, etc.) have a little more resilence but can't be counted on to be available forever. Data (my images and metadata) need to be permenant. 

 

Hardware: short term

Software: medium term

Data: permenant

 

Equipment and software comes and goes, but I want the ability to preserve (and navigate) my photography collection today and 50 years from now,...and to pass it along to my kids. 

 

So, I am hoping that metadata edits like location and description are 'destructive' in that they are permenantly embedded in the image file (XMP sidecare or file header). This valuable data can be accessed and read even if I migrate to another software platform in the future. 

 

If I am understanding you correctly, Lightroom Classic offers an option to do this. That should be my best route...

 

Right?

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 26, 2020

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"If that file ever gets curropted, or if in the future I want to migrate to another software program, I am out of luck. I have to re-start all of that cataloging work?"

 

Catalog corruption you deal with by ensuring that you make regular catalog backups, same with any other critical data.

Migrating to another software is more of a challenge, not so much from the metadata aspect but from the edit perspective. Migrating from Classic you would save metadata to XMP (there's a manual option, and even an automatic option which updates the files as each metadata change is made), and if migrating from the cloudy version you would use the Downloader app to download a copy of the original files + XMP. The issue with the latter is that the files are downloaded into a date-based folder structure and the album organisation is lost....so starting over with a new piece of software might need some organisational effort. But that's where keywords could help.

The bigger issue is the edits, and preserving those would depend on the capabilities of the new software to read, interpret and apply the develop settings.....but that's an issue you would face no matter what non-destructive image editor you happened to use, not just with Lightroom.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 26, 2020

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So, I am hoping that metadata edits like location and description are 'destructive' in that they are permenantly embedded in the image file (XMP sidecare or file header). This valuable data can be accessed and read even if I migrate to another software platform in the future. 
 
If I am understanding you correctly, Lightroom Classic offers an option to do this. That should be my best route...
 
Right?

Jim didn't directly answer this but yes, you can set up Classic to automatically write metadata to xmp sidecars or in the xmp area of the metadata section of files if they are non-raw. Lightroom Cloudy cannot do this. The caveat as already described by Jim is that any develop settings you apply to the images cannot be read by non-Adobe software. However all other metadata such as keywords, GPS, title, etc. are all in industry standard format so if all you do is catalog and keyword/title, that would work fine. I'd also point out that if you do not do any develop settings anyway, Classic might be overkill, and you might be better off by a digital asset management solution. A good example in the Adobe ecosystem is Bridge which is still available in the creative cloud thing. It's fundamentally different than Lightroom in that it is a file browser and does not attempt to consolidate images into the cloud or need to import any files. There are many other solutions that are used by photo agencies, newspapers, etc. but Bridge would probably work fine.

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Explorer ,
Feb 27, 2020

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This is great. Thanks, Jao. 

 

A question I continue to wrestle with: 

Clearly each of these three applications (Lr, Lr Classic, Bridge) have their own respective strengths. It stands to reason that you would want to commit to one application as "primary" but may also want to use the other application on occasion. For instance, use Lr Classic,...but occasionally use Bridge as well. Or use Lr Classic, but also use Lr (cc / cloudy) in order to sync images with the mobile apps. 

 

So, the question: do these three play nice together? Can you use them simultaneously so that metadata changes from one application (ie - location) will be reflected when using the other application? Or, will this create conflicts and chaos, hastening the end of the world? 

 

FWIW, I do see a distinction between metadata used for organization (rating, description, keywords, date, location) and develop settings metadata. My primary interest is the former, not the latter. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 27, 2020

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"So, the question: do these three play nice together? Can you use them simultaneously so that metadata changes from one application (ie - location) will be reflected when using the other application? Or, will this create conflicts and chaos, hastening the end of the world? "

 

They can, if you know what you are doing. Equally, it's easy to waste time (and worse) if you don't.

 

For example, Adobe has failed to sync keywords between Cloudy and Classic, so you might have synced photos from Classic on one computer and be happily entering keywords using Cloudy on the other computer. And then you find that they haven't synced back to Classic. That's  just time that you wasted, but it's easy to lose or duplicate files if you try to ride two horses.

 

If you sync Classic, it's "the boss" and you really should think in terms of a Classic-centric workflow with master files locally,  merely using the Cloudy app as a convenient "Lightroom Mobile on my other computer" (it doesn't do much more than the iOS apps). But if you decide that you really want a Cloudy-centric workflow, don't then sync Classic because it's going to start downloading everything, acting the boss.

 

Bridge is really a separate matter, just like Finder/Explorer in its relationships with Classic and Cloudy. It exchanges metadata very well with Classic because files are local, but not with Cloudy since the files' location is more nebulous.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 26, 2020

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Quite possibly you are using the wrong version. Note that there is NO "Lightroom CC", Adobe dropped the "CC" last year from almost all Adobe apps. Today there are 2 types of "Lightroom", one is called Lightroom Classic (which is the latest version of the Lightroom that you may have been familiar with from years back), and the other is now simply called "Lightroom" and which consists of a set of apps which have the Adobe cloud as the hub. Confusingly, one of the "cloud"apps runs on Mac or Windows desktop systems, as of course does Lightroom Classic.

 

The "Classic" version requires all images to be stored locally, whereas the "cloud" version requires all images to be stored in the cloud (though the user can opt to have a copy of the cloud originals also stored locally). The "Classic" version has all the functionality that you may have been expecting, whereas the "cloud" version (being a much more recent product) has a lot of catching up to do in that regard.

 

You might like to read this blog post for a comparison between the 2 Lightroom "systems", it should help you figure out which version of the subscription plan you might need" https://www.lightroomqueen.com/lightroom-cc-vs-classic-features/

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