Using Lightroom Smart Collections to Organize HDRs

Nicole Young (@nicolesy) wrote a great post over at Photofocus last week that showed how to leverage Smart Collections to organize your HDR-merge and Pano-merge images. This week, I wanted to follow-up on that post with a slight variation for those of us that use Photomatix for our HDR work instead of the Lightroom HDR merge.

Not using Photomatix for HDR? You can download a free trail of Photomatix on the Photomatix Download page. The trial of Photomatix Pro is fully functional and never expires, but adds a watermark to final images.

Ready to buy? I’ve worked with HDRSoft to get Lightroom Fanatic readers a special discount code for Photomatix. When you’re ready to purchase Photomatix, go here and use the coupon code LightroomFanatic to get 15% off!


The biggest difference when using Photomatix is the file type attribute used in the Smart Collections dialog. Photomatix does not support the default DNG file type that Lightroom uses. Instead, Photomatix defaults to TIFF, although JPEG is also an option. You specify the file type on the Photomatix export dialog.

lightroom 6 photomatix hdr

Lightroom Fanatic > Photomatix Export Dialog

The Output Format drop down at the bottom determines the file type. I always use TIFF 16-bit as my file type to provide the greatest quality output. For the other attribute used to create the Smart Collection, Nicole uses the text “hdr”, which I also use by specifying a suffix that also includes the text “hdr”. If you use a different suffix, just be sure that the suffix on the export dialog matches the filename attribute used to create your collection.

To create the Smart Collection, click the + next to the Collections tab and select Create Smart Collection, or navigate to Library > New Smart Collection. On the Create Smart Collection dialog, specify the File Type of TIFF and the Filename as containing HDR. Click the Create button to create your collection.

lr6 hdr smart collection

Lightroom Fanatic > HDR Smart Collection

If you have any HDR images from Photomatix in your catalog, they will show up in your new smart collection, making it extremely easy to find them! If you don’t see any images, make go back and check your file type and names in the collection properties to make sure they match the options you use when you create your HDR  images.

lightroom HDR photomatix smart collection

Lightroom Fanatic > HDR Smart Collection

Again, a big thank you to Nicole for the original post!

Lightroom Stores Facial Recognition Data In XMP Files

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m dedicating some time to dive in to Lightroom’s facial recognition feature. Initially, I wasn’t having a lot of luck actually using the feature itself, so I branched out a bit to do some tangential exploration.

This week, I wanted to pass along the note that Lightroom stores the facial recognition regions and names in the XMP sidecar files. If you are automatically generating XMP files, after you add the facial region and the name inside of Lightroom, the XMP file will reflect the area and the name in the Regions section. If you are not automatically generating them, you can use ⌘S to save the facial recognition metadata to the sidecar file for the current image.

lightroom 6 facial recognition xmp

Lightroom Fanatic > Faces In XMP

If you add a region without a name or if you remove the name, Lightroom will still store the region in the XMP file, even if there is no associated name. This is helpful since automatically finding the face regions in your catalog can be a resources intensive process to go through more than once.

lightroom 6 facial recognition xmp

Lightroom Fanatic > XMP With No Name

Since I’m still waiting for the preview creation and facial scan on my primary catalog and have tons of free time, I also went through the exercise of creating a new catalog and importing images with the XMP sidecar files to verify that the region came back intact, which they did.

lightroom 6 facial recognition xmp

Lightroom Fanatic > Facial Recognition Imported From XMP

I still rely on XMP files for some of my archives, so if I ever do get the facial recognition feature working and decide to include it in my workflow, I’m glad that all the work that I would hypothetically to do tag all the faces in my catalog will be maintained when my I push my images out to the archive pasture.



My First Failed Attempt At Exploring Lightroom’s Facial Recognition

If you follow me on Twitter (which you totally should), you already know that I was…underwhelmed…by the new features released in Lightroom 6. I was already happy with my Photomatix workflow for HDR, and the features and control available with Photomatix dwarf what is included with the HDR-merge feature of Lightroom. Then there is facial recognition…something I dabbled with in iPhoto and Aperture but that I never felt an overwhelming need to incorporate in to my workflow.

My therapist says that I need to learn to let things go, however, and that I should give people the benefit of the doubt. So I meditated, found my inner calm, and decided to give facial recognition a try.

I knew almost immediately that I had made a terrible mistake.

lightroom facial recognition performance poor sad

Simple actions, like adding a name to a face, would take Lightroom almost 10 seconds to complete. My computer was slowly grinding to a halt. I checked Activity Monitor and Lightroom was clocking in at 269%.

Lightroom Facial Recognition Performance

Lightroom Fanatic > Lightroom Facial Recognition Performance

I closed all my other applications and even reboot my computer, and that didn’t really help. My computer is probably average or above average compared to other photographers and Lightroom users, and my catalog of 30,000 isn’t out of the ordinary.

I saw that DropBox wasn’t synchronizing, and discovered that my preview file was at more than 5 GB. I thought maybe that had something to do with it, so I deleted my preview file, but that only made things worse because now Lightroom had to re-render all the preview files for all the images that it was trying to show me faces for in the Faces module. I think my Mac became sentient and developed emotions because I’m pretty sure I heard it crying and begging for mercy as it tried to handle the workload.

Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe my expectations were too high. I expected to be able to turn on the feature, have Lightroom scan my catalog and find faces, then start matching and learning who is who as I trained it. From what I can tell, it does a passable job at finding similar faces. The problem is that I can’t tell Lightroom that it is doing a good job for more than a few pictures every minute. At that rate, I might be done by Lightroom 7. Or 8. Maybe.

Here are a few assumptions. First, Lightroom needs the preview files rendered for my images because they are what is being shown in the Faces screen. Second, rendering preview files and trying to find faces at the same time is a bad idea. Both appear to be resource intensive. Third, trying to do facial recognition on my full catalog was a bad idea. I should have been more practical and selected a smaller subset.

All that said, I’m committed so see this through the end. Or maybe if I try to see it through to the end, I’ll get committed. I’m not sure. Maybe that’s what my therapist had in mind. Maybe I need a new therapist. For now, I’ll assume the former and dedicate the next few posts to things I discover using the new facial recognition feature. I think I’ve already found some neat stuff that I’ll share, but I would love to hear your feedback on the new feature, as well. Please leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter.


Multiple Computer Lightroom Workflow Using Catalog Export

Spring is here! Unless you live in Colorado or North Dakota where it’s still snowing, it’s time to be outside!

After breaking my hibernation, I noticed a flaw with my Lightroom mobile and Smart Preview workflows, and that is that the starting point for both is still on my desktop computer. But my desktop computer is inside our apartment, and I want to be outside in the park, doing artsy stuff next to the other creatives, and the jugglers, and the one guy who yells at everyone.

Since I’m out with my camera and my laptop, there’s no need for me to trek all the way home to import my images, generate smart previews, then go all the way back to the park to get yelled at and process my images. So in this post, I will share my workflow for processing images that starts on my laptop instead of my primary desktop.


To start, I use a different catalog than my normal “working catalog” that I mentioned in my Smart Preview workflow. It’s partly for keeping things separated and to keep things uncluttered and simple. But the catalog and my laptop install of Lightroom have the same plugins and presets installed so that my environments are otherwise identical.


Next, I’ll import the images in to my laptop catalog, just as I would on my desktop. I’ll add my metadata and keywords and any starter develop presets.

lightroom import

Lightroom Fanatic > Import Images To Laptop

One note about importing, if I import the images in to a subfolder, Lightroom will maintain that hierarchy when I export the catalog later on. For that reason, I typically import these projects in to the root folder of my catalog.


With my images inside of Lightroom, I’ll find my picks. add more keywords, delete the stinkers, and process the individual images. Having full access to the Lightroom tools is one reason that I still use my laptop instead of using the subset of features inside of Lightroom mobile on my iPad.

lightroom fanatic workflow

Lightroom Fanatic > Processed Images Ready For Export


Now that my images are processed, it’s time to get them in to my main catalog on my desktop. To do that, I’m going to export these images as a catalog. To start, I’m going to Control+Click on my folder and select Export this Folder as a Catalog…

lightroom workflow export catalog

Lightroom Fanatic > Export This Folder As A Catalog

The next screen is the Export as Catalog dialog where I can give the catalog a name and specify a few options. The big one to pay attention to is the Export negative files option. With that checked, Lightroom will export the catalog and all my edits as well as the raw images I imported from my camera. That means I don’t need to re-import the raw files from my memory card on the other computer…they’ll come along with the catalog.

lightroom workflow export as catalog

Lightroom Fanatic > Export as Catalog

To make my life easier, I export the catalog to DropBox. By doing so, DropBox does the heavy lifting of putting the catalog and files in a location that is accessible to my desktop. Since I’ll delete this temporary catalog at the end of the process anyway, it’s just temporary storage.

Once the catalog is exported, I can see it and the raw files by navigating to them in Finder.

lightroom export catalog workflow

Lightroom Fanatic > Exported Catalog And Raw Files


With my exported catalog and raw images in the cloud, it’s time to leave the park before it gets too dark and head home. Having avoided another day of mugging in the big city, I’ll pour myself a glass of wine (critical to my workflow) and fire up Lightroom on the desktop.

The next step is to import the catalog, so I navigate to Import from Another Catalog…

lightroom workfklow import from another catalog

Lightroom Fanatic > Import From Another Catalog

Since my exported catalog is already synchronized with DropBox, I simply find the catalog file and select it.

lightroom workflow catalog to import

Lightroom Fanatic > Select Catalog To Import

The Import from Catalog dialog will appear and I’ll specify that I want to copy the new photos to a new location and import them. I also specify where I want the images to live in my main catalog. For me, that’s in my Pictures/Originals/2015 folder, and it will create a subfolder inside there with the name of the catalog and folder that I exported. In this case, “TeeBall Practice”.

lightroom import from catalog dialog

Lightroom Fanatic > Import From Catalog Dialog


Once I click on Import, Lightroom will import the raw images and put them in the designated folder on my desktop and add them to the catalog, along with all the edits and keywords that I did on my laptop.

lightroom fanatic imported images

Lightroom Fanatic > Images Imported From Laptop

Now that the images are safely on my desktop and in the catalog, I can delete the temporary catalog and files from DropBox and, if I want to, from my laptop.

That’s it! It’s pretty straight forward, and it gives me the flexibility to start my workflow from my laptop and bring that work in to my primary catalog when I return home. So whether you’re hanging out in the park with the guy who yells at everyone or traveling, I hope you find this tutorial useful to keep you as inspired and productive as possible when you’re away from home base!


New Camera? Update The Camera Profiles In Your Lightroom Presets

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I recently picked up another camera, the Fujifilm X100T.  The X100T is my first new camera in years. It’s been so long since I’ve used a different camera in Lightroom, in fact, that I had forgotten that my standard develop preset included a camera profile for my other camera.

Lightroom uses camera profiles the extrapolate color information when it processes raw files. By default, Lightroom applies an Adobe Standard profile, but you can select a different profile for your camera by navigating to the Develop module and finding the Camera Calibration tab.

adobe lightroom camera calibration

Lightroom Fanatic – Camera Calibration

In my case, since my preset included a profile specific to a different camera, when I applied the preset to the images from my X100T, Lightroom defaulted to the Adobe Standard profile. In my experience, though, the standard profile is usually not the best profile for getting the best color out of a raw file, so I will usually select a the camera standard profile and include that in my starter preset.

adobe lightroom camera calibration

Lightroom Fanatic – Camera Specific Profiles

As an added benefit, for most cameras, the camera-specific profiles also include the color presets that are available on the camera itself. So if you like the Classic Chrome filter on the X100T, you can apply it as a camera profile inside Lightroom.

philadelphia reading terminal market classic chrome

Lightroom Fanatic – Fuji Classic Chrome

If you include camera profiles in your presets and you want to apply similar settings to the images from your new camera, you can easily create a new preset for the new camera. Apply your existing preset to an image, change the camera profile for the new camera, then save the settings as a new preset. You can create a folder for each camera, or you can add a camera identifier to the preset name.

Happy shooting with that new camera!