Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 UPDATE: Using Lightroom Across a Network!!!

About a year and a half ago I posted this blog entry about a back door trick I found online that allows you to access Adobe Lightroom catalog files across a Network. This includes accessing them on a NAS (Network Attached Storage) or on another system on you network.

Well, I am here to tell you that we have had NO problems with it even after upgrading to version 3 and IT WORKS AWESOME!!

So before you read on, keep in mind that the instruction you are about to see here below amount to nothing more than writing a one or two line text file in Microsoft Notepad and including a shortcut to it in your start-up folder. We just broke it down as much as we could so it would be easy to follow.

So when we first started using this, I had some apprehensions as I was really worried about the potential for damaging a Catalog file when, inevitably, we would mistakenly try to simultaneously access a catalog file. When I first wrote this blog entry, I deemed this "CROSSING THE STREAMS"

Well, it did in fact happen to us and the only ill affect was that it did not open for the second user. Gail had a catalog file open on her system that I was also trying to access from mine. After waiting several minutes and not seeing it open on my system, I realized what was happening. So it looks as though Adobe already had some means of locking multiple users out of trying to access the same cat file.

So, why did we want this?
The problem Gail and I had was that in our small home Network, we always had an issue with me keeping the Lightroom catalog files local to my system. Granted I do 95% of the initial editing so it made sense, but the problem always came up when she needed to re-export files or modify images for the customer but, she did not have access to it. Previously this meant she had to interrupt what I doing and/or kick me off of my work station.

This is the plight of many Lightroom users and I think everyone would agree this is the last big step Adobe needs to take with LR.

One thing to note...
Anything you do to your system is YOUR responsibility. This is why I handed to our experienced tech.

That said, all the instructions you see here below amount to nothing more than writing a one or two line batch file and including a shortcut to it in your start-up folder. Our tech considers it pretty much harmless.


On the PC hosting the cat file...
If you plan to access a catalog file on another computer or a hard drive connected to another computer, it must be first shared under the properties tabs and also check "Allow users to change my files" otherwise Lightroom will fail to open from the remote system.


Go to the computer that you will be remotely accessing the LR catalog file from and obtain the actual network address for where the catalog files are located. Do this by opening the "My Network Places" window from the remote workstation and be sure to right click and use the "View Details" view. Looking at the below graphic, you can see that in our case "\\d63rgzc1\current lr work" is my system address followed by the specific folder I will be sharing with her over the network and “\\drobo-fs\asa-network” is our Drobo-FS (NAS system). We will be "mounting" both of these network locations as local to Gail's works station as far as Lightroom is concerned.


In Notepad, open a new file and save it as "Start.bat".

Using those addresses you located in the above step, create a command line in the "Start.bat" file for each of the drive(s)/network locations you would like to access that has your catalog files (might be only one in your case).

The “subst L:” command tells the computer to substitute/create a drive named “L” as a local address letter on that PC which points to "//d63grzc1/current LR work" which is the folder on my system where I keep the catalog file that Gail needs to access.

The "subst S:" command does the same thing but to a Drobo network attached storage unit on our office network.

Once you are done with that, save the “Start.bat” file in the “All Users” folder of that workstation (see below).

Then you want to create a shortcut of this file (right click, create shortcut) as seen below.

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Rename this shortcut to something you might recognize or mistake for a virus as we did. In this case (below) we renamed the shortcut “Map Drobo Drive” just so we know not to scrub by accident thinking it was malicious. You can name it anything you want.


Drag and drop this shortcut into your Startup folder. “C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup” folder (as seen below). This will now run upon system start-up.

After which that drive(s) might start showing up as they did for us as "Disconnected Network Drive" (below). That is just the way they are going to show up, disregard it. Renaming it won't work as each time you reboot the computer it will most likely reset.


NOW REMEMBER! From this point on, whenever you are trying to access a catalog file remotely make SURE that you are pointing to the correct drive. Notice (below)how these drives now show up under “My Computer" and NOT “My Network Places”. This is important. If you try to access the same catalog file through "My Network Places", Lightroom will not allow it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lightroom and Photoshop: The Peanut Butter and Jelly of your digital workflow!

"Do you use Lightroom or Photoshop?"

I still hear this question all the time and it drives me crazy!!

The question was never there in my opinion.

How did it come to be that people felt they had to choose one or the other? These two powerful tools were meant to be used together in harmony. Sweet and Salty, Ying and Yang and ...oh yes...Peanut Butter and Jelly

I think this all started back when the awesome editing power of LR first came into light. People thought that PS was being challenged for it’s roll as the big Kahuna. Maybe because of this people felt like they had to choose sides, either Photoshop or Lightroom. I think somehow the purpose of these programs has been blurred. Not sure who’s fault it was…it just happened. Never the less, it is there and I see it and hear it all too often. The mindset must change in my opinion or else everyone will be missing the boat!

So lets stop putting these two into the same old “Nikon/Canon”, “PC/Mac” aurguments.

Is LR and awesome editing tool? Yes, absolutely. Does it replace PS. Without a doubt, NO. Now this is not to say that LR doesn’t have powerful editing capabilities and that it hasn’t greatly reduced my time spent in PS, because it does and it has. My ability to locally and globally edit and adjust LARGE amounts of images has skyrocketed while my time spent doing so has decreased dramatically. What LR brought to the table in addition to this is the ability to infinetly group, create multiple variations of, web publish, print, search and keyword images like never before. All this while keeping them organized! Spending less time in PS does not mean that it’s necessity has diminished. The beauty of this relationship is that when I do need to call in the power of PS, LR is the perfect launching point to go there and back again seamlessly. As soon as you save your file in PS, you jump back into LR and there it is: accessible, catalogued and even further editable within LR. What else can you ask for!?

Photoshop is, has been, and will continue to be (as far as I can see anyway) the go to program for major image modifications and element swap out. Not to mention all of the capabilities it gives to graphic artists and animators.

So lets look at some of the major issues people from both camps that I think are holding them back.

From Camp Photoshop:
A lot of people born into PS have a hard time getting there head around importing images into the LR catalogue. From a Photoshop users standpoint one has to think of it as the same task of copying your image files onto the computer itself. You can’t edit your files in PS without putting them on your computer, right? Importing into the catalogue in fact replaces the step of copying the files onto your system. Some people don't realize that importing into Lightroom and copying the images onto your system is done in one step at the exact the same time. As far as not “seeing” your files once you have start to edit them within LR…you just have to start thinking of the LR as you Explorer window or Bridge.

From Camp Lightroom:
Photoshop has been, is and will continue to be the most intricate program for image editing in the world. You have to know that and accept that as soon as you step in the door. So here is my analogy for you if intend to tackle PS. If your wife sends you to the grocery store with a growling stomache and $500 bucks in your pocket…the options are endless. However, if she sends you there with the list "milk and eggs" and gives you $5, your in, your out, end of story. The point to my analogy here is to know what types of things you need to do in PS, learn it, and use it. Get in and Get out. Going in to a program like PS without an understanding of what you need to do is a death trap. Go online and watch a few tutorials or get a book. It is so easy to find online tutorials these days…use them!

So in closing, the decision to use Photoshop or Lightroom is NOT a decision at all. I could not imagine having one without the other…Peanut Butter and Jelly!