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Author Topic: why 'Import' when I like my file system?  (Read 8462 times)
narikin
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« on: July 19, 2006, 09:15:43 AM »
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newbie Windows user here, probably with a dumb question:

I understand that to get my image files to show up in the Lightroom playpen I need to use the 'Import' command, BUT... I already have a very serviceable file system set up that I am content with - so I dont need to truly import files under this command, but simply reference them where they are, which I see is possible. (but isnt this a confusing term for not-importing: Import?)

is it possible to just browse your folder tree like most raw converters/ ACR/ C1 etc do?

I'm very confused where to start when I already have a decent file structure set up, and no wish to duplicate terabytes of images. how do I access that existing file structure, like I would in Bridge by simple folder navigation.

feel free to help me out if I'm dumbly missing something!

thanks, narikin
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macgyver
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2006, 09:35:26 AM »
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I agree.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2006, 09:38:30 AM »
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File must be imported into LR because it's a database based system and is "constantly aware," so to speak, of the files it's imported. Think of it as importing the information into the database. Essentially, you need to say to LR, "Hey, Lightroom. Here are the locations of the images I want you to keep track of. Thanks bro."

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is it possible to just browse your folder tree like most raw converters/ ACR/ C1 etc do?

No. Those utilize file browser based systems and are not aware of images unless you are currently browsing them. Each system has it's pluses and minuses. File browsers allow for immediate browsing but don't offer the broad organizational benefits of a database and are not very good at managing enormous amounts of information.

Think of a file browser as a horse with blinders on. It's only aware of what it is directly looking at and once it looks another way, it's no longer aware of what it was just looking at previously. A database system is like a person with a perfect memory. It only knows what it has been told, but once told, it'll never forget and that info can be referenced at any time in many dynamic ways.

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how do I access that existing file structure, like I would in Bridge by simple folder navigation.

You already know the answer to that:
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so I dont need to truly import files under this command, but simply reference them where they are, which I see is possible.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2006, 09:45:36 AM by 61Dynamic » Logged
pvonk
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2006, 09:35:45 AM »
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This is a post of mine in the Lightroom forum, it might help you understand what LR is all about:

The folder/file structure on a disk is an abstraction in that data is really stored in sectors within cylinders on a disk.  People use this abstraction to conceptualize the organization of data - that is, it's easier to visualize our data when using a filing cabinet paradigm.  A database-driven app like LR tries to handle the organization its own way and presents the data in an abstraction like shoots that we humans can understand.  The point is, don't worry about how the data is actually stored, just work within the app using whatever paradigm is presented (i.e. shoots in LR).  

Now, you could just put all your pictures in one big folder or a sequence of folders sized to fit on a CD.  As long as the database app lets you index the files in some way, you should be able to find specific files when you need them.  The downside to this is when you want to use other apps to manipulate the data as well.  For them to work, they'll need to understand how the original app (LR) organizes things.  The alternative is for LR to export some files so the other app can process them (that's what you do to get pics to Photoshop), or for LR to import files but keep the physical files in the current folder structure.

- Pierre
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Steve West
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2006, 09:48:27 AM »
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I don't use database-driven browser/editors.  I too have my photos organized using the operating system's file structure.  In a past LL, Michael made a pretty eloquent case for using the OS's directory structure too.

I hope that LR has a way to deal with the situation where you move your photos around on the disk.  I tend to organize photos in a temporary area that is set up with subject directories.  After I get a DVD's worth of them, I back them up and then move the files to USB drive storage.  How do the database pointers get updated?

I have not been happy with database programs in this regard.

I do like the fact that database programs will let me put a single photo into several categories without making several copies of the photo on disk, but I don't see much use for it otherwise.

Steve
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photographist
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2006, 09:59:43 AM »
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I can see another issue on the horizon here...

  If the combination of Lightroom and Photoshop are Adobe's goal, but Bridge is not going away, then some form of "compatible exchange" for the organizational metaphors being used (Database v. Folder/File Hierarchy) will need to be created.  To use a poor pun... the differences will need to be bridged to make the products easier to use.

   I too am working to overcome this workflow issue, and as Lightroom is still a beta product, I'm hesitant to commit fully to it at this point and change my workflow markedly.  

   I do believe that some form of file movement must be implemented within the Lightroom application, or it will fail in aspiring to its stated goal... to be a well rounded raw application for professionals.

  My 2 1/2 cents (adjusted for inflation).

Jeffrey
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narikin
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2006, 10:00:40 AM »
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well - it seems there is no good answer coming forward

SO - if I am perfectly happy with my file structure what do I do?

It seems you can't point LR at the head folder and tell it to go through this folder and every sub folder (like you can Bridge) to catalogue them. Have I missed something, or do I have to enter each and every sub folder select all the images and tell LR to database these images?! that seems crazy.

I can see myself using lightroom for the future images/ 'shoots' - but what does one do with the terabytes of images already done and in a working file structure ? I have no wish to re-edit these, or to go do Raw conversions over, or to duplicate them into another location. I suppose LR can help me look at them in a better way - like a super-Bridge, but thats about all I see it for with past work. so what am I missing here?
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narikin
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2006, 10:09:23 AM »
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I guess what I've been missing here is that this is basically a fancy RAW converter with editing tools/database in there.

As such, its not so good for looking at existing developed images that are already in a file/tree structure.  It will be useful for editing new RAW shoots/sessions as and when you do them, but its not much use if you try to use it for Bridge type browsing of existing TIFF images.
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GuyScharf
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2006, 06:50:41 PM »
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SO - if I am perfectly happy with my file structure what do I do?

It seems you can't point LR at the head folder and tell it to go through this folder and every sub folder (like you can Bridge) to catalogue them. Have I missed something, or do I have to enter each and every sub folder select all the images and tell LR to database these images?! that seems crazy.
Yes, you can do that.  

File/Import and select the head folder.  In the Open dialog, there is supposed to be a "Choose folder" checkbox in the lower right corner.  Check that, and Lightroom will import the folder and all its children.

However, if like on my system, that checkbox is not visible or not present, then just use Windows Explorer to drag the head folder on top of the Lightroom window.  That will initiate the same process.

Guy
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jani
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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2006, 07:25:42 AM »
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As such, its not so good for looking at existing developed images that are already in a file/tree structure.  It will be useful for editing new RAW shoots/sessions as and when you do them, but its not much use if you try to use it for Bridge type browsing of existing TIFF images.
I think it's better than Bridge for browsing, simply because it's quicker at generating the thumbnails.

Caveat: importing many thousands of images can be s-l-o-w.
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Jan
61Dynamic
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2006, 12:32:36 PM »
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...but its not much use if you try to use it for Bridge type browsing of existing TIFF images.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71398\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
As I've stated already, LR is not a File Browser application. Bridge will continue to exist for that sort of use.
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Raw shooter
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2006, 12:41:14 PM »
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Or maybe, in the final gold edition, Lightroom will offer a preference of File Browser or Database.  Seems like a perfect solution for everyone.
Can't imagine why that would be so hard to code.
For the record, the File Browser would fit most photographer's existing system and how they have databased their images in the past.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2006, 06:18:40 PM »
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Or maybe, in the final gold edition, Lightroom will offer a preference of File Browser or Database.  Seems like a perfect solution for everyone.
Can't imagine why that would be so hard to code.
For the record, the File Browser would fit most photographer's existing system and how they have databased their images in the past.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71555\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
It would be hard, as they are two entirely different systems. Wanting a DB program to also be a file browser is akin to wanting a drag racer to climb rocks. Given Adobe will still offer Bridge with CS apps, I don't see why they would go to the effort of integrating a file browser. Perhaps they'll bundle Bridge with LR for those not wanting to buy PS if you ask in the Adobe suggestion forums, though I doubt that would happen.

Your comment about the past is the reason LR exists. The systems of the past have severe limitations in workflow and when handling large numbers of images. LR (and Apple's Aperture for that matter) is designed to overcome these limitations and make managing your collection far simpler than what can be done with previous systems.

There's strong merit to the LR/Aperture approach and not just with photography. Microsoft has been working on a database structured file system (WinFS) for over a decade now to replace the current system and on the mac platform you have Spotlight, a database based search tool designed to make finding and organizing files easier. some Linux distros are worknig to integrate Beagle, a DB search tool like Spotlight.

I would not be surprised to see file browser based tools die off in the not to distant future. Elements of them certainly will remain, but It's a system designed back when computers maxed out at 512k of memory and people dealt with very few files at any given time. It worked great for many years but now with 80GB drives being considered small these days, programs like LR and Aperture are a very welcome change.
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nemophoto
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2006, 07:30:08 PM »
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I am so totally and thoroughly unimpressed and underwhelmed by Lightroom. Here I thought it might actually be the "Holy Grail" of converters. . . but it's not. (I'm talking Windows and have no idea how the current Mac versions works -- though I assume similarly.)

I have absolutely NO desire to have an all-in-one database of images. I loathe the thought of having to import all my images before I can work. When I'm working on a project, I purposely break the shots down into meaningful sub-groups. The "browser" basis is actually a much more efficient manner inwhich to work. Ninety per cent of my professional work is catalog. An average day consists of over 1000 images (12-14GB), 12 - 16 shots. I don't have any desire import 5000+ images from a week's shoot into a single database and then be forced to find the specific images the clients wants me to convert in a sea of many. I've used C1, Bibble, Breeze Browser, ACR, RawShooter and SilkyPix. I can tell you, almost all, without exception, prove to be more efficient in workflow.

I've been working on a book on Ireland. Similarly, I've divided the images into regions for easier organization and retrieval. I don't want to import every image I ever shot into an LR database. It's counter productive.

Perhaps Lightroom is best suited for a wedding phototgrapher or event photographer who may shoot several thousand images at a single event/wedding and is happy to have that many images in a single database.

I'm terribly sorry Adobe has followed the Aperture route as the manner inwhich to organize and convert RAW files. Give me a browser based image converter any day. LR's image management is weaker than ACDSee Pro or Cumulus or Portfolio. In thinking about it, I don't want an all-in-one program. What's the saying? Jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

Nemo
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jani
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« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2006, 03:54:22 AM »
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I have absolutely NO desire to have an all-in-one database of images. I loathe the thought of having to import all my images before I can work. When I'm working on a project, I purposely break the shots down into meaningful sub-groups. The "browser" basis is actually a much more efficient manner inwhich to work. Ninety per cent of my professional work is catalog. An average day consists of over 1000 images (12-14GB), 12 - 16 shots. I don't have any desire import 5000+ images from a week's shoot into a single database and then be forced to find the specific images the clients wants me to convert in a sea of many.
Huh, this is where I've found Lightroom to be superior to e.g. Bridge. C1 and RSE seem awfully clunky in comparison. But that's my personal user experience; I haven't attempted a thorough usability analysis.

When importing, you have the option of splitting the import per day or just use the structure from the source folder (IIRC). Since you can also label with a "shoot name" as well as keywords per shoot, this makes it easy to identify images from the same shoot or series of shoots, or to search for similar shoots.

Identifying the shoots later on is a doddle, but I must admit that I don't know how well this works with more than about 10k images.

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I've been working on a book on Ireland. Similarly, I've divided the images into regions for easier organization and retrieval. I don't want to import every image I ever shot into an LR database. It's counter productive.
It's a tough job if you've got a lot of images, sure. That is a marked disadvantage.
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Jan
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« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2006, 05:30:12 AM »
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I'm not sure, but it might be so that Windows users are less accustomed to applications that are based on a Library than MAC users (who are all used to iphoto, since it comes with every MAC).
This opinion is based on my experiene (N=1) Since last year, I own both MAC and PC, but needed some time to get accustomed to the library concept of MAC.

As is stated earlier in this thread, you have to let things go and let the computer do the cataloging itself. I was used to build folder structures with Windows explorer and found the MAC system a bit 'unsettling', because you can't see where the pics are going. Now that I'm used to it, I find the library concept much better (allthough there is the speed issue...)

I can imagine that LR will have to overcome this barrier with Windows users, more than is the case with MAC users!
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Giedo
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« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2006, 07:02:53 AM »
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Giedo, I think you may have hit on something with that thought.

I am sorry that people who do not like Lightroom in its present state seem so sure that the finished application will be useless. At the same time, I can sympathize with those who feel that their present file organization, browser style, suits them more than a database structure that is essentially a cataloguing system that floats on top of a specific file structure.

I am delighted with LR so far, and welcome the ability to track themes in my work and perform various other sorts. How much nicer it is than dumping all the slides on the light table and having to refile!

There are bugs still, obviously, and it's slow on a Windows machine, but I think we have to keep in mind that the building process is ongoing, and Adobe is actually listening to the feedback from its user base.
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picnic
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« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2006, 07:55:31 AM »
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I'm not sure, but it might be so that Windows users are less accustomed to applications that are based on a Library than MAC users (who are all used to iphoto, since it comes with every MAC).
This opinion is based on my experiene (N=1) Since last year, I own both MAC and PC, but needed some time to get accustomed to the library concept of MAC.

As is stated earlier in this thread, you have to let things go and let the computer do the cataloging itself. I was used to build folder structures with Windows explorer and found the MAC system a bit 'unsettling', because you can't see where the pics are going. Now that I'm used to it, I find the library concept much better (allthough there is the speed issue...)

I can imagine that LR will have to overcome this barrier with Windows users, more than is the case with MAC users!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71603\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I use Imatch for cataloging, but what I found works for me with LR (thus far) is to continue to build my regular system of folder of year, then folder of month with shots (date/referece name)--and then I just imported the whole month.  It left it in 'shoots' as I have it and I had it reference it from the current place--rather than move it to 'wherever'.  I watched Michael Tapes intro video about file import (for RSP users--I use RSP and C1 primarily for RC) and discovered I could set it up that way.  Works for me---for now.  I can browse with Bridge or use LR (I have to 'add' for Imatch too--so maybe that's why it doesn't bother me--and importing for LR took me less time than Imatch--though I can't do as much with it as far as cataloging--or at least don't know how yet).

Diane
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jjj
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« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2006, 03:40:33 PM »
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A file tree is useful in LR or other DAM progs, for no other reason than it's a handy way of finding files that are not yet added without going through annoying dialogue boxes to import. Just had a play with ACDsee Pro. Very nice implementation of that where you can select multiple folders, drives to import images. EDIT - Not so good after all, as I cannot find how to select a folder and all folders in it to import! You need to browse for your files to place them in your library, so why remove the file browser aspect from a DAM application.
Another really nice feature in ACDSee PRO is the calendar locator, a excellent feature used in Photoshop Elements Organise/Album and I always wished Bridge had. But with added detail, so you can even find images by time of day taken, which I would have never thought of needing, but now I've tried it on some test images it's actually extremely useful indeed. And the more I play with it the more I realise how incredibly useful it is. I remember when I take pics, but not necessarily how I named them, so for me it's very handy.

Also I think there is no way I am going to entrust my overall filing to any Library program like Aperture or LR as they can be replaced by other programmes, have databases become corrupt, they lose images-I just had my external drive change it's drive letter due to another device being added to computer, LR has now lost the [test]images and I cannot simply point the shoot to the new location and reconnect but it seems I now have to reconnect every image manually [if anybody knows of a workaround...]. Apple in particular are quite happy to drop support for older software, so no way will I commit to Aperture.
Whereas if I always carefully file my images by date and a description of folder contents in a logical manner on my HDs, like Diane suggests above, then I can always easily find stuff if my DAM prog goes belly up. It also means when I want to add images to my library I can find them more easily. Not only that, why assume I always want to use LR to look at my pics. Other applications need to be able to access my image files. Say I want to send pics by email or zip them up to email, how would I find them via the OS if I've organized all the images thru my DAM programme. Opening up LR etc to save to images to desktop so I can then find them is a clunky workaround.
A previous bad experience of this has made me very wary of organising programmes. I tried iTunes out a couple of years ago and it decided to completely and pointlessly rearrange my music filing structure on my HD[with no warning whatsoever] ignoring the fact that other programmes may be accessing the files. I only tested it on a very small segment of my music collection, so it only took half a day to sort out!
« Last Edit: August 30, 2006, 03:48:52 PM by jjj » Logged

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61Dynamic
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« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2006, 04:00:28 PM »
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I just had my external drive change it's drive letter due to another device being added to computer, LR has now lost the [test]images and I cannot simply point the shoot to the new location and reconnect but it seems I now have to reconnect every image manually [if anybody knows of a workaround...].[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=74956\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Windows assigns letters to drives on a first-come-first-serve basis. Disconnect whatever drive you connected before turning on the external containing the LR database and then turn that drive off and then on again. It should revert back to the previous drive letter at that point.

Another way to do it is to right-click on My Computer and go to "Manage." In the Disc Management section select the external containing LR, right-click and select "Change drive letter and paths..."
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