Excluding Lightroom Previews and Smart Previews From Your Backblaze Backup

I was asked an question by Matt on Twitter about backing up my Lightroom Smart Previews with Backblaze. Matt tweeted:

Nice mobile wkflw. How do you exclude Smart Previews from backing up to Backblaze? Aren’t’ SP baked into respective catalogs?

Where I think Matt was going with his question was that the Smart Preview file can get pretty big and, especially with the initial backup, can slow down the entire backup process. Excluding the Smart Preview file from the backup could help get that initial backup done and make subsequent backups more streamlined, especially since those files can change often.

Personally, I include the Smart Preview and Preview files in my Backblaze backup because I have unlimited storage and a fast internet connection. But the data in both of these files is very transitory. The most important files to back up are the ones that can’t be recreated and, for Lightroom, that’s your catalog file along with your original image files. The other files, including the Preview and Smart Preview file, can be recreated if you have a good catalog and the original images, so backing them up is not as critical as the catalog file. If you are working with a slower connection or do have storage constraints, excluding the preview files from your backup might be a good option.

Currently, Backblaze doesn’t provide a way to pick specific files to exclude from the backup, but you can exclude files of a certain type. Lightroom uses the .lrcat extension for the catalog, and a .lrdat extension for both the Preview and Smart Preview files, which means you simply need to add “lrdat” to the Blackblaze exclusion screen.

Open up your Backblaze preferences screen and navigate to the Exclusions tab. Find the file types box at the bottom of the dialog screen and add “,lrdat” to the list. Backblaze will no longer back up any files that end with .lrdat, which means both the Previews and Smart Previews, but it will still back up your catalog file, since that ends in .lrcat.

backblaze lightroom catalog smart preview exclusion lrcat lrdat

Lightroom Fanatic > Backblaze Exclusions

Thanks for the question, Matt. I hope thhis helps. Remember, if you have a question for me, reach out to me on Twitter at @lrfanatic!


I use Backblaze to keep my computer and attached storage automatically backed up. It’s nonintrusive, fast, secure, and starting at only $5/month, it’s a no-brainer. Rest easy knowing that your files are backed up by signing up for BlackBlaze today.

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How To Find Your TIFF (or PSD) Files In Your Lightroom Catalog

Sometimes when I’m sending files to Photomatix or to Photoshop from Lightroom, I create an intermediary TIFF file. That was especially true running an older version of Photoshop where I couldn’t send a raw or Photoshop file.

Normally, I’m very tidy and I clean up after myself, but occasionally files get stranded or are missed in the cleanup process, so I wanted to come up with a way to find those files in my catalog so that I could clean them up myself. Fortunately, the Lightroom Library Filter lets me do just that.

The Lightroom Library Filter

The Library Filter provides options to search for images using a lot of different criteria. In my case, I know that the files I want to find end with either TIF or TIFF, so I clicked on the Text filter, then change the Text dropdown to Filename.

The next dropdown tells Lightroom how to apply your search term to the filename. One of the options is Ends With, which sounds like it would do exactly what we wanted since our files end with TIF or TIFF. However, with Ends With, Lightroom won’t take multiple criteria and it won’t take a wildcard, so I couldn’t find both TIF and TIFF.

If I was looking for one specific file type, however, like all my Photoshop files, the Ends With works great.

adobe lightroom filter psd photoshop

Lightroom Fanatic – Photoshop File Finder

In order to find both my TIF and TIFF images in one filter, instead of using Ends With, I selected Contains. Now, the search criteria can contain both TIF and TIFF. However, it will look for those terms anywhere in the file name. So it would return a raw NEF file named “My-Aunt-Tif.nef”, which I don’t want. I still want to enforce the “ends with” logic but in the “contains” framework. That’s where the + modifier comes in. Sure, in every other search language, the + means “must include” but in the land of Lightroom, putting the + before a search term means it should begin with that term. Putting it at the end of a search term means it should end with that term. That means if I use “tif+ tiff+” as my search criteria for a Contains search, it will find files that end with TIF or end with TIFF, which is exactly what I want.

lightroom filter contains tiff tif

Lightroom Fanatic – Filter for TIF and TIFF

For giggles, I can also add a “psd+” to show all my TIF, TIFF, and Photoshop files.

adobe lightroom filter for tif tiff psd search

Lightroom Fanatic – Filter for TIF, TIFF, and PSD


That’s all there is to it! Happy filtering!

Bonus Tip

Because I’ve only shot Nikon and I only shoot raw, I wanted to see what other files were in my catalog. To do that, I created a negative filter using the Nikon NEF extension. Again choosing the filename option, I selected Ends with and entered “!NEF”. The exclamation mark is the “not” operator, so the filter looks for files that don’t end with NEF, which is every non-Nikon raw file.

adobe lightroom filter not nef raw

Lightroom Fanatic – “Not” NEF Filter



The Difference Between Flow And Density In Lightroom

Previously, I posted an explanation of the different sliders available with the adjustment brush. I’ve had a few questions come in asking for more clarification about the difference between the flow and density sliders in Lightroom so, in this post, I’ll talk about each more in depth.


Flow, as it sounds, controls the speed at which the adjustment is applied to your image when painting with the brush. When your flow is at 100, the effect from the adjustment brush happens very quickly; one stroke of the brush applies the full effect. With a lower flow, it will take longer for the effect to be completely applied. That’s a handy tool when you’re trying to slowly apply and control the effect on an image.

I’ve seen other tutorials suggest that with a flow of 50 that you can reach the full effect by painting over an area twice, but in practice, I’m not sure that’s true based on how the effect i actually applied. Check out the illustration below. Two brush strokes do not achieve the full effect, at least not consistently. I needed to make multiple passes at 50% flow to get the full effect.

Lightroom Fanatic - Adjustment Brush Flow

Lightroom Fanatic – Adjustment Brush Flow

Try it yourself. On an image, set the exposure to -4 and the flow to 50. Without moving the mouse, click once to apply the effect. With each click, it should darken. After about 12 clicks, it was hard to distinguish from the 100% flow.

adobe lightroom adjustment brush flow density

Lightroom Fanatic – Adjustment Brush Flow Sample


Density, however, puts a cap on how much of an effect is applied. A density value of 50 caps the effect at 50%. For example, if your effect applies a +2 exposure, a 50% density means that, no matter how long you paint the effect, it will never get more of a change than a +1. The example below shows a 100% density adjustment of a -2 exposure, a 50% density adjustment with the same exposure value, and a -1 exposure applied with 100% density. The last two should be, and are, identical.

Lightroom Fanatic - Adjustment Brush Density

Lightroom Fanatic – Adjustment Brush Density

So why use density at all? Why not just adjust the sliders to match the target effect? That’s a great question! If you’re just messing with the exposure or a single adjustment, it’s probably easy enough to do just that. However, if you’re applying a combination of adjustments with your brush and you want to apply a lighter touch to one piece of an image, instead of trying to figure out the right rations to adjust all the sliders, you can simply adjust the one density slider and soften the effect. When you move to another section of the image that can take a harder adjustment, you can simply move the density slider back up.

Combining Flow And Density

The more comfortable you get with using both sliders, the more you’re likely to use them to in your workflow. The ultimate in brush control comes from combining the flow and density sliders to both control the rate at which an effect is applied and to limit its impact on an image. The adjustment brush is one of the most powerful ways to take your image from good to great by isolating adjustments to where they are needed. Mastery of the adjustment brush and effectively and efficiently using it as a part of your workflow will help you get the most out of Lightroom.


Expanding On The One Catalog Idea In A Mobile Workflow

Last week, Scott Kelby wrote a post in his “10 Things I Would Tell New Lightroom Users” series in which he recommends to new Lightroom users that they stick to using one catalog.

I remember, not that long ago, when the Adobe forums were full of people suggesting that your Lightroom catalog should not have more than a few tens of thousands of images or risk the ire of the angry Lightroom gods. But, as Scott suggests, as the application has matured, you can now have more than 100,000 images in your catalog and still run safely and smoothly.

I love the one catalog suggestion. I don’t like having to fumble through multiple catalogs to figure out where my images are. I like the one-stop shopping that maintaining a single catalog offers. So do I use just one? Well, no. But let me tell you why.

I do have one “primary” catalog that contains all my images. I’m safely under 100,000 images suggested limit and haven’t experienced any issues with a catalog of that size. The problem for me comes in with my mobile workflow. I do a lot of editing on my laptop, and I’m synchronizing over Dropbox. If I tried to do that with my primary catalog, I’d easily exhaust the space on my Dropbox account. But I’d also run in to an issue during metadata synchronizations and other updates that make a large number of changes to the catalog because each of those changes would need to be synchronized Dropbox, as well. That would create a big queue of changes that would take awhile to recover from.

Instead of keeping my primary catalog on Dropbox, I have a smaller one that I call my “working” catalog. It has my active projects in it, so it’s a smaller subset of images. That limits the size of the catalog and the potential for cascading changes that need to be synchronized across Dropbox. For mobility, I take advantage of smart previews so that I can edit my images on the go without direct access to the original images.

Once I’m done with a project, I’ll switch back to my primary catalog on my desktop and import the project from the working catalog. There are a number of ways to handle the import process, but importing allows me to keep the history intact with minimal fuss.

One variation that I’ve toyed with in this workflow is to have a small catalog for each project. I could create a new catalog in Dropbox, import the images and generate Smart Previews, and use those on my laptop to edit the images. But when I’m editing multiple projects at the same time, I run in to the problem of switching catalogs constantly to go between projects. Having one working catalog for all my active projects helps with the clutter. Otherwise, the workflow would be the same. After the project is done, I’d import from the project catalog in to my main catalog and then discard the project catalog.

Again, while I love the one catalog suggestion, I’d recommend one primary catalog, but use a smaller, working catalog if you’re doing any editing on the go.

Here is a look at my current workflow. Everything north of the Mac Mini is original files and my primary catalog. Between the Mini and the Macbook are smart previews and my working catalog.

adobe lightroom mobile workflow catalog

If you want to give Dropbox a try, you can sign up with this referral link and get 2GB of space for free. That’s plenty of space for a mobile Lightroom catalog.

If you’re looking for an automatic backup solution, I’ve been very happy with Backblaze. Plans start at just $5 a month. How much are your pictures worth?

Where To Buy The Standalone Version Of Lightroom

Lightroom-logo-300x300I moved to Creative Cloud last year, but there are many people who would rather continue to use the standalone version of Lightroom. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be hard to find. In this short post, I’ll show you where you can still purchase the standalone version of Lightroom so that you can enjoy all the power that Lightroom offers without the monthly commitment.

Keep in mind that if you decide to go the standalone route, you won’t be able to take advantage of Lightroom mobile. Otherwise, though, the features of the Creative Cloud and standalone versions are identical…at least for the current version.

Buy Lightroom Standalone From Adobe

If you click Buy on the Lightroom page at Adobe, it will take you to the Creative Cloud subscription page. They don’t make it easy to find the standalone option, but it’s still there. To find it, navigate to Menu > All Products which will take you to the Products page. From there, scroll down to find Lightroom and you can select the Full or Upgrade version for your platform.

Buy Lightroom Standalone From Amazon

You can also purchase Lightroom from Amazon for both Windows and the Mac, and it’s available as a download. You can even buy the Lightroom 5 Upgrade for both platforms.

Unless Adobe or Amazon are running a deal, the prices are usually pretty close. Amazon sometimes offers a software or music credit, so check for that, too.

The links above are affiliate links meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase using the provided links.