For DragonCon this year I decided to give Lightroom 2 a try. I have changed a lot of things in my photo processing procedures, not the least of which has been the change from Windows to Macintosh OS X, and Lightroom sounded like a good fit.
On Thursday evening I installed the Lightroom 2 30-day trial on the Apple PowerBook G4 laptop that I would be using for the weekend. Chris [insert last name] helped me get started with Lightroom showing me some of the basics. The biggest thing that got me excited about Lightroom is the ease that metadata could be added to images and the ability to easily search for and filter images making it really easy to find images that have been tagged.
During DragonCon I would be out shooting from about 9:30 AM until around midnight at which time I would go to the hotel room fire up the laptop and spend 3 or 4 hours process all of the images in Lightroom. I would first copy the memory cards to my image bank and then onto the laptop so that there would always be two copies of every image.
Then I would import the images into Lightroom with my default metadata, which included a basic set of keywords, copyright information, and my contact information. Once in Lightroom I flagged the images that were unacceptable and should never be seen again and when I had made my way through all of the image I deleted the rejects.
The next pass took a lot longer as I went through and rated every image using 1 through 5 stars with the idea being that all images with 3 or more stars would be turned in as keepers.
On the third pass I visited each one of the keepers and used Lightroom to color correct, rotate, and crop where necessary. Luckily the Canon EOS 40D auto white balance is very accurate for this type of photography and with the lenses in my kit I am able to get the shots I am looking for with much cropping or rotating.
The final step is to export the images from Lightroom with my custom file naming convention of “Firstname_Lastname_YYYYMMDDHHMMSS_####.jpg” and I used a thumbrive to transport the images to the show computer to copy them over to the Director of photography.
By the end of the show I shot around 3,600 images over the four days of DragonCon and turned in 717 keepers. For my personal use I had about 3,800 pictures and published 1,181 onto my SmugMug web site.
Lightroom 2 is a really amazing tool. This is the first event where I did not spend hours in Photoshop pouring over each and every image that was designated a keeper. It is also the first event where I had every keeper tagged with keywords that will allow me to search for images later. In the past I would add keywords and captions to the images in SmugMug, but that did nothing to help me find images on my hard drive.
My next goals for Lightroom are to read a good book on the subject and then spend the next year or so going through my entire image library adding keywords and other meta data.