I have downloaded the Lightroom 3 thirty day Trial offer ($229 purchase price) with the intention of comparing it with the Photoshop X3 ($80) that I have used for years.

I have read most if not all of your recent articles on Lightroom 3 and found them very interesting and helpful.

Realizing that I have spent a couple of years with Photoshop and that I never read the instructions literature that comes with a new program I have a few question on how to get started. 

My initial pass thru the LR3 were positive and I liked the ease of adjusting various aspects of the few pictures I was able to open with the provided menus. 

My confusion is with the importing, handling and saving of the pictures. The whole issue of dealing with all the various “Catalog and Collections” options offered on the file menu screen is a bit confusing to this California boy. I have a very difficult time opening pictures that are in a folder on the desktop or anywhere in the computer and importing them into a Catalog. 

Is there a simple explanation for the use of these options when using LR3? In Photoshop, it is a simple matter of opening a picture, adjust as desired and save as a new picture.  

It must me a lot easier than what I am doing such as: Open LR3, Create Catalog, import a picture or folder into Catalog and start developing the pictures.  

Please advise what I am missing in this process. Please see 2nd attachment.

Thanks as always.



Rick emailed me before I could reply and told me he found a Lightroom guru at the local library who showed him how easily these functions are accomplished and I needn’t waste my time responding.  I emailed him back asking if he minded if I use the question anyway, because these are common questions to new users of Lightroom.  In the future, I estimate next month, I’ll publish a proper tutorial on the subject of importing and exporting images from Lightroom, but for now I’ll just point you in the right direction and I’m sure most of you will be fine.


Importing To Lightroom

To import files, look at the top menu and select “File”, and then “Import Photos.”  Select ‘Import Photos’ and you’ll get the Import Images screen.  This is new and improved in Lightroom Version 3.  On the left you’ll see a list of your “source” drives including your computer hard disks and any attached card readers and cards.  Select your source.  On the middle top you’ll see three choices  “Copy, Move, or Add”   You can either copy from the drive/card leaving your original files on the original device, Move your files from the original device to a new drive/device, or Add the files to the catalog while not moving them at all.

On the right, you’ll see a panel with your available Destination drives and some areas with the option to add keywords during import, copy your files to a secondary ‘extra’ drive/location, or you can even apply presets like black and white and other toning choices.

That’s the crux of Importing.


Exporting From Lightroom

To export files, look at the top menu and select “File”, and then “Export Photos.”  Select ‘Export Photos’ and you’ll get the export Images screen.  This is also improved for Lightroom Version 3, but not the big change the Import panel was. 

A basic Lightroom installation without extra plugins installed, will have an “Export Location” are where you choose where you want the files to go, a “File Naming” area where you can choose to rename and sequentially name or number your files, a “File Settings” box where you select Jpeg, Tiff, or other file types, the degree of compression/quality, and the color space.  sRGB is the default choice.  Next, you’ll have an “Image Sizing” box where you can choose the size of all exported images, or not.  You can also choose if you want “Output Sharpening” and/or “Watermarking”.  Once you check off your choices, hit “Export” and you’re done.  Easy.

Also, don’t forget that starting in Lightroom 3, Lightroom now includes standard plugin’s for automated exporting to Facebook, Flickr, and Smugmug.  Any major image storage site will probably have a free plugin for Lightroom.

Lightroom is the most popular imaging program in use today.  It’s the most popular for good reason, it’s user interface makes it easy for beginners, adaptable for professionals, and the Lightroom RAW engine is the same 2010 RAW engine used in Adobe Photoshop CS5, which is one of the top raw processing engines available today.  Only one or two others are as good, and perhaps better in some areas. These others are purely professional level software and nowhere near as easy to use as Lightroom.

I hope this helps.  

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