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Lightroom is essentially a catalog management program and raw image processor combined into one. It is important to appreciate how Lightroom differs from browser programs such as Adobe Bridge, where you simply point Bridge at a folder to inspect the contents. The browser method is really suited for those times where you need the freedom to search everything that’s on your computer. The downside of this approach is that you first have to know where to look in order to find what you are searching for. Plus, you’ll be shown all the files that are contained in each folder. If there are also lots of non-image files to sort through this can make image browsing quite tricky.
Lightroom is different. With Lightroom you must import your photos first, and in doing so make a conscious decision as to which photos you want to have added to the catalog. As you will come to learn in this chapter, the Lightroom import procedure provides an adaptable import workflow, one that can be streamlined through the use of Import presets, as well as offering the ability to import files directly from the camera using a tethered shooting setup.
The main Import dialog
To import photos into Lightroom, you will need to click on the Import... button in the Library module. The first time you choose to import photos into Lightroom it will do so via the expanded Import dialog shown in Figure 2.1. As you can see, there are lots of options here, so let me take you through them one by one in the order you should use them.
Figure 2.1 This shows the layout of the advanced import dialog showing all the main panels.
At the top we have the import workflow bar. This displays a summary of the current configured import workflow, showing from left to right the import source, the import method, and the destination folder. You mainly use this to select the import method: Copy as DNG, Copy, Move, or Add. Below this you will see, on the left, a Source panel, which is used to select the source volume (or folder) to import from. In the center is the content area. This displays thumbnails of the images that are to be imported and offers options to segment the thumbnail display into different groupings. For example, you can choose to display photos by showing All Photos, show New Photos only, or segment by Destination Folders (how the photos will finally be imported, according to the Destination panel settings). You can use this central section to select all or select individual photos, as well as see Loupe view previews of the files you are about to import.
The panels on the right are used to manage the photos as they are imported. So we have the File Handling panel at the top to decide how to render the initial previews, whether to import suspected duplicates, and options for creating secondary backups. The File Renaming panel can be used to apply a file renaming scheme. The Apply During Import panel can be used to apply a Develop preset and/or a metadata template setting to the files as they are imported; plus, you can enter keywords to apply on import. Then we have the Destination panel, which lets you choose the folder the files should be imported to and how they should be organized within that destination folder. At the bottom you’ll notice an Import Presets menu. Here you can save Import dialog settings as custom presets. This can make it easy for you to select favorite import settings without having to reconfigure everything in the Import dialog each time you want to import files into Lightroom.
If you click on the button circled at the bottom of Figure 2.1, you can go to the compact view shown in Figure 2.2. This provides an abbreviated summary of the import settings. This simpler interface is ideal if you have already saved a number of import presets. When working in this mode all you need to do is to select an appropriate import preset.
Figure 2.2 This shows the layout of the compact import dialog mode.