Saving Your Photos as JPEGs in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3
Since there is no Save command for Lightroom (like there is in Photoshop), one of the questions I get asked most is, “How do you save a photo as a JPEG?” Well, in Lightroom, you don’t save it as a JPEG, you export it as a JPEG (or a TIFF, or a DNG, or a Photoshop PSD). It’s a simple process, and Lightroom has added some automation features that can kick in once your photo is exported.
You start by selecting which photo(s) you want to export as a JPEG (or a TIFF, PSD, or DNG). You can do this in either the Library module’s Grid view or down in the Filmstrip in any other module by Command-clicking (PC: Ctrl-clicking) on all the photos you want to export (as shown here).
If you’re in the Library module, click on the Export button at the bottom of the left side Panels area (circled here in red). If you’re in a different module and using the Filmstrip to select your photos for export, then use the keyboard shortcut Command-Shift-E (PC: Ctrl-Shift-E). Whichever method you choose, it brings up the Export dialog (shown in the next step).
Along the left side of the Export dialog, Adobe put some Export presets, which are basically designed to keep you from having to fill out this entire dialog every time from scratch. It ships with a few presets from Adobe, but the real power of this is when you create your own (those will appear under the User Presets header). The built-in Lightroom Presets are at least a good starting place to build your own, so for now click on Burn Full-Sized JPEGs, and it fills in some typical settings someone might use to export their photos as JPEGs and burn them to a disc. However, we’ll customize these settings so our files are exported where and how we want them, then we’ll save our custom settings as a preset, so we don’t have to go through all this every time. If, instead of burning these images to disc, you just want to save these JPEGs in a folder on your computer, go to the top of the dialog, and from the Export To pop-up menu, choose Hard Drive, shown circled here in red.
Let’s start at the top of the dialog: First, you need to tell Lightroom where to save these files in the Export Location section. If you click on the Export To pop-up menu (as shown here, at top), it brings up a list of likely places you might choose to save your file. The second choice (Choose Folder Later) is great if you’re making presets, because it lets you choose the folder as you go. If you want to choose a folder that’s not in this list, choose Specific Folder, then click the Choose button to navigate to the folder you want. You also have the option of saving them into a separate subfolder, like I did here, at the bottom. So, now my images will appear in a folder named “Rolling Stones Shirt” on my desktop. If you want these exported JPEGs added into Lightroom, turn on the Add to This Catalog checkbox.
The next section down, File Naming, is pretty much like the file naming feature you already learned about back in the Importing chapter. If you don’t want to rename the files you’re exporting, but want to keep their current names, leave the Rename To checkbox turned off or turn it on and then choose Filename from the pop-up menu. If you do want to rename the files, choose one of the built-in templates, or if you created a custom file naming template (which we learned how to do back in Chapter 1), it will appear in this list, too. In our example, I chose Custom Name – Sequence (which automatically adds a sequential number, starting at 1, to the end of my custom name). Then, I simply named these shots “StonesShirt,” so the photos will wind up being named StonesShirt-1, StonesShirt-2, and so on. New in Lightroom 3 is a pop-up menu for choosing whether the file extension appears in all uppercase (.JPG) or lowercase (.jpg).
Under File Settings, you choose which file format to save your photos in from the Format pop-up menu (since we chose the Burn Full-Sized JPEGs preset, JPEG is already chosen here, but you could choose TIFF, PSD, DNG, or if you have RAW files, you could choose Original to export the original RAW photo). Since we’re saving as a JPEG, there’s a Quality slider (the higher the quality, the larger the file size), and I generally choose a Quality setting of 80, which I think gives a good balance between quality and file size. If I’m sending these files to someone without Photoshop, I choose sRGB as my color space. If you chose a PSD, TIFF, or DNG format, their options will appear (you get to choose things like the color space, bit depth, and compression settings).
Let’s say you’re exporting an entire collection of images, and inside that collection are some video clips that were shot with your DSLR. If you want those videos included in your export, make sure you turn on the Include Video Files checkbox (shown here), which is new in Lightroom 3. Just below that checkbox, it lets you know that when it comes to exporting those video clips, they won’t have any of those things like output sharpening, watermarking, file format changes, etc., because Lightroom doesn’t edit video. Now that you know that, you can click on the little gray triangle to the right of the checkbox (my cursor is pointing at it) and that warning text will be hidden from view.
By default, Lightroom assumes that you want to export your photos at their full size. If you want to make them smaller, in the Image Sizing section, turn on the Resize to Fit checkbox, then type in the Width, Height, and Resolution you want. Or you can choose to resize by pixel dimensions, the long edge of your image, the short edge of your image or the number of megapixels in your image from the top pop-up menu.
Also, if these images are for printing in another application, or will be posted on the Web, you can add sharpening by turning on the Sharpen For checkbox in the Output Sharpening section. This applies the right amount of sharpening based on whether they’re going to be seen only onscreen (in which case, you’ll choose Screen) or printed (in which case, you’ll choose the type of paper they’ll be printed on—glossy or matte). For inkjet printing, I usually choose High for the Amount, which onscreen looks like it’s too much sharpening, but on paper looks just right (for the Web, I choose Standard).
If you’d prefer to remove all your personal EXIF camera data from these files, while keeping your copyright info still intact, go to the Metadata section and turn on the Minimize Embedded Metadata checkbox (as shown here). This hides all your exposure settings, your camera’s serial numbers, and other stuff your clients probably don’t need to know.
The next section down lets you add a visible watermark to the images you’re exporting (watermarking is covered in detail in the next project), and to add your watermark to each image you’re exporting, turn on the Watermark checkbox, then choose a simple copyright or your saved watermark from the pop-up menu.
The final section, Post-Processing, is where you decide what happens after the files are exported from Lightroom. If you choose Do Nothing (from the After Export pop-up menu), they just get saved into that folder you chose back in the beginning. If you choose Open in Adobe Photoshop, they’ll automatically be opened in Photoshop after they’re exported. You can also choose to open them in another application (gasp!) or in a Lightroom plug-in (like Nik Software’s Viveza 2, as you can see here). The Go to Export Actions Folder Now is covered later in this chapter (under emailing from Lightroom).
Now that you’ve customized things the way you want, let’s save these settings as your own custom preset. That way, the next time you want to export a JPEG, you don’t have to go through these steps again. Now, there are some changes I would suggest that would make your preset more effective. For example, if you saved this as a preset right now, when you use it to export other photos as JPEGs, they’ll be saved in that same Rolling Stones Shirt folder. Instead, this is where it’s a good idea to select Choose Folder Later, like we discussed back in Step Four (as shown here).
If you know you always want your exported JPEGs saved in a specific folder, go back up to the Export Location section, click the Choose button, and choose that folder. Now, what happens if you go to export a photo as a JPEG into that folder, and there’s already a photo with the same name in it (maybe from a previous export)? Should Lightroom just automatically overwrite this existing file with the new one you’re exporting now, or do you want to give this new file a different name, so it doesn’t delete the file already in that folder? You get to choose how Lightroom handles this problem using the Existing Files pop-up menu (shown here). I pick Choose a New Name for the Exported File (as seen here). That way, I don’t accidentally overwrite a file I meant to keep. By the way, when you choose Skip, if it sees a file already in that folder with the same name, it doesn’t export the JPEG image—instead, it just skips it.
Now you can save your custom settings as a preset: click the Add button at the bottom-left corner of the dialog (shown circled here in red), and then give your new preset a name (in this case, I used Hi-Res JPEGs/Save to Hard Drive. That name lets me know exactly what I’m exporting, and where they’re going).
Once you click the Create button, your preset is added to the Preset section (on the left side of the dialog, under User Presets), and from now on you’re just one click away from exporting JPEGs your way. If you decide you want to make a change to your preset (as I did in this case, where I changed the Color Space to ProPhoto RGB, and I turned the Watermark checkbox off), you can update it with your current settings by Right-clicking on your preset, and from the pop-up menu that appears, choosing Update with Current Settings (as shown here).
While you’re here, you might want to create a second custom preset—one for exporting JPEGs for use in online Web galleries. To do that, you might lower the Image Sizing Resolution setting to 72 ppi, change your sharpening to Screen, set Amount to Standard, and you might want to turn the Watermark checkbox back on to help prevent misuse of your images. Then you’d click the Add button to create a new preset named something like Export JPEG for Web.
Now that you’ve created your own presets, you can save time and skip the whole Export dialog thing altogether by just selecting the photos you want to export, then going under Lightroom’s File menu, under Export with Preset, and choosing the export preset you want (in this example, I’m choosing the Export JPEG for Web preset). When you choose it this way, it just goes and exports the photos with no further input from you. Sweet!