#999. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

By Paul Perton | How-To

May 06

In an ideal world, we’d all be shooting countless photographs and selling JPGs, or prints as fast as we could make them. Like in Scott Kelby-land, they’d all be 5* images and aside from counting all the revenues, our only concern would likely be ensuring everything is backed-up to further protect our photographic assets.

5* images?


Here’s how that works here:

1 – Import new photographs

2 – Page through the new images, marking those that merit some editing with 1*

3 – Decide to keep the unselected pictures for now

4 – Edit the 1* shots. The best get 3*, the balance either 2* (very iffy), or lose their single star and return to the mass.

Job done.

I use 4* and 5* to temporarily select images for various reasons – for example, prepping a DearSusan post. I need photographs to illustrate my words. The best photographs are all 3*, so I select them one-by-one and change the rating of each to either 4* or 5*. In Lightroom with the sort order set to Rating, this annoyingly moves the file pointer to the top of the file and it’s necessary to scroll back to where I came from to select the next shot.

The alternative is to sort in Capture Time, but that means wading through all the images, not just the 3*.

Anyway – all my temporary selects eventually gather at the top of the sort and are easy to find/export. Once that’s done, they remain selected and I simply press 3 and they are all re-rated and return to their original position in the file.


Star ratings doubtless have a myriad of other uses – but at the risk of repeating myself; just because something is possible, doesn’t mean it is necessary for you to use it.

That said, one additional and invaluable use took me a while to work out.


As in being forced to move on from Aperture. Initially, I fretted for weeks about how I might keep all of my RAW files and the edits as I transitioned to Lightroom.

Then, my solution was to buy a pair of 2Tb disks and copy everything to each disk. As long as Aperture continued to work, things were OK.

It wasn’t long before I wanted to put the idea to use. It worked as expected, but running two disks and two copies of everything is far from ideal. Eventually, Apple’s transition to all 64-bit apps was the writing on the wall for Aperture and I needed another solution.

Apple offered an import from Aperture option in Photos, so after a quick test, that was my chosen route to further protect my precious images. As I recently said elsewhere, if only Photos wasn’t so handicapped in other areas… But there’s no escaping that, except with round tripping, or awkward plug-ins.

So, the last step was how, how much and how to do it.

In a blinding flash of the obvious*, I realised that I could export all my selects (3*) and a few 2* as full size JPG files @ 300 d.p.i. into a Photos library, which would preserve my best photographs for day-to-day use. Along with them, I exported all of the RAW originals into an identical file structure, but not Photos. Now, I could access the selects easily and quickly and edit the originals by simply finding the RAW file. With time on my hands (anyone mention lockdown?), its possible to trawl those archives for the odd image I’d missed in the past.

Job done.

As a methodology, this works really well. Plus, I learned that despite having been migrated once from Aperture to Photos to Lightroom and most recently, into Capture 1, in many cases, the links to the RAW originals had been copied along with their JPGs, making finding and editing even easier.

It will require re-editing where necessary, but who hasn’t developed better skills since those early digital days?

* Tom Peters – In Search of Excellence


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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I am bewildered – which is not uncommon in people my age. Is this “Photos” you are talking about the Apple “Photos” program?
    Ignoring my ignorance – I’ve never thought to keep links all along the trail from the initial input of a RAW file to the final product sent to the printer. Because of the tonal differences from one program to another, I think I’d rather go back to the start and repeat – rather than cut in somewhere. Because it would be too long since I originally did it, and I’d never be able to follow the path, doing it again on the basis of the original attempt at post processing it.
    And besides, over time, the methodology is like shifting sands – moving around, changing, simplifying or becoming more sophisticated. I’m rapidly approaching a point where I think I’d be horrified if I reviewed photos I’d processed only 4 or 5 years ago!
    To make matters [FAR!!!!] worse, I’ve just taken delivery of a much better scanner, so that I can finish converting my remaining analogue films and maybe print a lot of them. That will really test the flow you speak of!

    • Paul Perton says:

      Yup. That’s Photos. The Apple-crippled halfway house for recovering Aperture addicts.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Now I can see a further reason why I am bewildered.
        It seems the thrust of this post is mostly about cataloguing – right? If so, that explains my confusion. I’ve never bothered with cataloguing as such – just store the stuff by date order, with the originals in one folder, the processed versions (to completion) in another, and copies for the web in another – in 6-month chunks – and tags, to help me search for them.
        Otherwise, “cataloguing” is just a matter of which photo album the prints are stored in – and they have labels to help me narrow the search.

        Of course, if you’re a pro and have irate customers banging on the counter for another copy, and you have to sift through a hundred thousand images to find what they’re screaming about, it would be a whole different ballgame. The sort of stuff which explains why they bankrupt themselves, buying LR CC as their “technical assistant (lirbarian)”.

        • pascaljappy says:

          That makes two of us, Pete, if it’s any consolation 😉
          I import, and that’s it. No keywords, no ratings, no indexing.
          Don’t ask me to find a photograph, though … I mostly publish mine as I make them and would really struggle to go back in time to find something again …

          Wouldn’t it be nice to have an open and modular architecture? One tool for catalog purposes, another for raw processing, another for stitching. It baffles me that it isn’t so, ans the developpers who write that software actually work in such environment : a generalist language to which specialised libraries are added for specific purposes. Only they are too dumb or too selfish or too oppressed by narrow-minded bosses to replicate in the software they build the very tools that make their lives so much more easier.

          Ugh … as an industry, the amateur photo world really is dumb …

          • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

            Well I keep seeing posts telling me that you absolutely HAVE to Adobe Lightroom – the cloud version of course, because that way Adobe gouges more out of your pocket – because it’s the world’s best program for cataloguing all of your photos. Forget the fact that 99% of the world’s photos will never be seen again, once they’ve been SMS-essed to all the Facebook & Twitter contacts, and dumped on Instagram. The other 1% of us simply MUST use the most expensive version of LR that money can buy – oh, and keep on and on and on buying, forever, because it works only on payment of your regular annual or monthly subscription – and if you don’t, you’ll lose your catalogue forever.

            Sorry Adobe – that’s nuts! I do my own cataloguing, thanks.

            Then all of a sudden, out of left field, claims that LR is far and away the best post processing software in the world. I have a number of responses to that, but this doesn’t seem to be the right place to air them. Subject matter for a different post on DS!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Still no clues as to the nature or title of “Next Post >> #1000. [FILL IN THE BLANK]”? The suspense is killing me! 🙂

    • Paul Perton says:

      That’s a tough one Pete. The lockdown has delayed someone spotting the huge scaffolding structure we’ve erected in Trafalgar Square to build this mother of all posts.

      With the building work mostly complete, we’re now moving on to clinical tests and if the medical wonks sign it off, it should be freely available my week’s end.

    • pascaljappy says:

      In fact, because of the mounting pressure, we’ve decided to skip it altogether. But it’s a secret 😉

  • Joakim Danielson says:

    Impeccable timing of this post, I have for a long time looked for a solution on how to organise my exported jpeg files and only 3 days ago did I realise that Photos might be useful for this and gave it a try. I definitely think it could be a useful solution even though I need to use it some including synching and sharing photos.

    How do you handle export when you need jpegs in smaller size for posting online for instance? It looks like it can’t be done from Photos?

    • Paul Perton says:


      On a cursory look (I’m just going out for my one daily exercise), it seems you get to export in S, M, L choices only. That may be configurable in Preferences.

  • Jean-Claude Louis says:


    First of all, the photos are exquisite, 5***** 🙂

    I’ve struggled with cataloging and ranking for years. I wasn’t comfortable with any of the available options. I eventually built my own catalog, as folders in simple chronological order. Stored in 24 TB RAID units.

    I use to PhotoMechanic to rate and tag the images – stars for the ranking; 9 colors for the genre (landscape, portraits, etc..); keywords. PhotoMechanics also records the capture date, the image creation date, GPS coordinates, all the metadata, and more. Retrieval is fast and customizable.

  • The good news for me is that I never used any of that “ready-made” cataloging stuff. No cloud, no Photos. I developed my own system, my own categories and folders and my own external save and backup drives from day one when I first realized my work was beginning to sell and I needed to be able to protect it and retrieve it.
    I’m not selling much now but I still have occasion to need to retrieve a specific image so I still use the same filing system. I’m glad I do because I was recently contacted by an organization wanting to use a specific image on the cover of their new catalog. It took less than five minutes to locate it.
    But, I applied the title of your post to other facets of photography. Why use it just because you can can be applied equally to new gear, processing software, etc. Especially processing software. I get a new piece of software and try to apply it to every image until I realize that it wasn’t developed as a panacea for everything. And that I really don’t need to try to use it on every image. It will do some things superbly, but not everything. I suppose that’s the learning curve.
    Same with a new lens. I never buy new lenses (or other equipment) unless I already have a specific purpose or project for it. But, then I get it and for a while I try to use it everything. Again, the learning curve.
    I hate learning curves. I look back later and realize how much time and effort I wasted on some of those things. But, they can be a lot of fun, too. Sometimes you get some good “keeper” images out of them they you might not have had if you had known what you were doing. :))

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      I too hate learning curves, especially when photo editing software very easily could have an additional simple learning tool!
      I think of how the curve “tool” is shown.
      At the bottom, any over all light and colour editing results just in a shift of that curve (times four: R+B+G + total). But I like sensible sliders, they have a less steep learning curve than the curve tool.

      What I miss :
      >> A view that shows how that curve is changed by the applied sliders and effects! That would IMHO significantly reduce the learning effort.<<

      And I would like to be able to apply the curve tool both from the "traditional" straight line and from the curve that shows already applied edits.

      First, because this would, especially for a novice, much faster give one the hang of how the different sliders "really" work.
      Second, because with heavier editing an additional from-straight-line curve edit works differently depending on previous edits.
      Third, because this would make comparisons of editing software more transparent for the less experienced.

      ( The last point is perhaps the reason why this is absent in the software I've tried upto now.)
      – – * – –

      > “Sometimes you get some good “keeper” images out of them [they] you might not have had if you had known what you were doing. :))”

      So true !!

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