In this tutorial, we’ll look at the basic features of Adobe Lightroom. How to import and organize your images, and getting to grips with the Import interface.
What is Adobe Lightroom?
Adobe Lightroom, in short, is a software application that allows users to import, catalog and edit their images.
Which versions of Adobe Lightroom are available?
Since 2017, Adobe Lightroom has been available in two flavours: Adobe Lightroom Classic CC, and Adobe Lightroom CC. This may seem confusing at first, but the two versions are distinguishable from one another, and provide a solution for two different types of user:
Adobe Lightroom Classic CC is a desktop based solution for editing digital images. It allows users to organise and catalog photos on a local hard disk.
Adobe Lightroom CC is designed around web-based cloud storage. On a desktop computer, Lightroom CC is fundamentally an app as opposed to a software product. It stores images in the Adobe Cloud making them instantly searchable and available in the Adobe Lightroom App for iOS and Android.
Application Icons: Left: Lightroom Classic CC. Right: Lightroom CC.
If you prefer an archived, home-based editing solution, then Adobe Lightroom Classic CC is most likely the best choice for you.
If however, you need the flexibility of editing your images on-the-fly from a smartphone or tablet, with the ability to store and access them instantly from the cloud, then Lightroom CC would most likely be the better choice.
In this tutorial, the tips given will be based around the desktop version of Adobe Lightroom. However, many will also be applicable to the cloud based version too.
Opening Adobe Lightroom Classic CC for the first time
The first thing users on Windows and Mac will be greeted with is a dialog box asking where you would like your photos to be stored:
The destination folder you choose will be the location of your imported images. Adobe Lightroom will store new images here, and changes made to them, and will keep your images organized by date in this location.
It is important to consider at this point if you have enough hard-disk space for the amount of images you will potentially import over time. You can choose to create your Lightroom catalog on an external disk, but this will reduce the speed at which Lightroom imports and saves images and will not run optimally.
How do i import images?
Importing images into Adobe Lightroom Classic CC couldn’t be simpler. In the opening screen, Lightroom asks you to ‘Click the import button to begin’:
Adobe Lightroom Classic Import Screen
As a quick comparison, here is the opening import screen from the Adobe Lightroom desktop app:
Back to Lightroom Classic. Make sure the memory card from your camera, or what ever devices your pictures are saved on is connected to your computer, and click on ‘Import’.
The next screen will display a list of your connected devices. On the right side of the screen, simply navigate to the media on which your images are saved, and they will appear in the center section of the import screen.
Although the Import screen may look confusing at first, it actually follows a simple left-to-right workflow.
Starting at the top of the import screen, you have the option to Copy as DNG, Copy, Move or Add. Without going in to too much detail, the ‘Copy’ option is selected by default, and is recommended, as this will copy and save the original images from your memory card to your hard-disk.
Working from left to right across the Import screen:
- The ‘Source’ section displays the devices connected to your computer.
- The center section displays thumbnails of the images stored on the chosen media.
- Finally, the ‘File Handling’ section on the right contains options for dealing with the images as they are imported.
Usually, the options in the File Handling section are not used. However, for advanced users, develop settings and metadata (this is the written information stored in an image, for example date & time the image was created) can be applied from saved presets to images as they’re being transferred in to the catalog.
Use the check-boxes on the image thumbnails to select the photos you wish to import, click ‘import’ in the bottom right of the screen, and Lightroom will begin to import and catalog your images.
After your images have finished importing, you will be taken to the Library screen. This screen displays the images contained in the last import.
As with the Import screen, the Library screen is divided in to three sections.
The left section contains a preview of the selected image, followed by your catalog information, and the folders contained within your catalog. As you can see, Lightroom has already began to catalog imported images in separate folders based upon the date the images were created.
Next, ’Collections’ and ‘Publish Services’. We’ll take a look at how to use Collections and Publish Services in a later article.
The center section of the Library screen contains the images of the last import (as highlighted on the left side of the screen under ‘Catalog’). Tip: Selecting another folder from your catalog will display images from within that folder.
Finally, the right side of the screen contains information relating to the image currently selected from the Library. We’ll talk about the information displayed here in a later tutorial.
What media can i connect to my computer?
Almost anything with some form of storage can be connected to your computer to import photos from. These days, you can also connect your camera directly - although, Adobe recommend you always connect your cameras memory card to your computer via a card reader.
Are my original photos deleted?
No. Adobe Lightroom CC standard configuration purely copies images from your selected media to your computers hard drive, leaving the original files untouched.
How much available hard drive space should i have?
This is a difficult question to answer. Lightroom performs best when editing RAW images (check your cameras settings). These RAW image files can range in size from 15 to 50MB (and sometimes more). You should be sure that your computer has enough capacity available to store the amount of images you wish to import.