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Post Production Tips

Culling in Lightroom 4 Library Module

By Pye Jirsa on February 4th 2013

The following is an excerpt from the SLR Lounge Lightroom Workflow System Workshop on DVD, a system designed to increase your post production speed by 5 to 10 times. Click here to learn more.

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What is Culling?


Each module in Lightroom has a place and a purpose, and the purpose of the Library Module is organization. As photographers, we know very well that only the best images in a shoot will be processed and delivered to the client. Most images are rejected. This is why culling in the post-production process is so important.

The term “culling” is thrown around a lot, but what exactly does it mean? Culling is the process of rating your images (flagging, unflagging, rejecting, etc) and is a method of organization. In this quick tutorial, we will talk about how to most efficiently cull your images in Lightroom. Most importantly, remember to cull within the Library Module instead of the Develop Module to improve your overall workflow speed.

Quicker Culling in the Library Module

The Library Module is made for speed. Since the Develop Module needs to load develop previews including the sliders and develop settings for each image, it is going to take time moving from image to image. On the other hand, the Library Module doesn’t include these develop settings. Therefore, the Library Module loads previews much faster, allowing you to cruise through your images quickly while culling. In fact, even if you have rendered all your 1:1 previews, it is still slower to move through images within the Develop Module. So, in order to save time, make sure to cull within the Library Module.

The only time you want to cull within the Develop Module is if your workflow consists of a “culling out” process. In this case, you would be developing and culling simultaneously, and it may be better for your workflow to do them together in the Develop Module.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Robin Groenevelt

    Forget Lightroom for culling many images, use Photo Mechanic instead. You’ll never look back!
    All ratings and flags carry over to Lightroom so nothing is lost.

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  2. Kirk Belmont

    ok…while that was short…and correct…it would have been more helpful to add some small comments like…

    1.) Use the shortcut “X” key to reject a photo…instead of deleting a photo in the library mode
    2.) Rate your photos using the stars…shortcut keys “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” you can also use colors…shortcut keys “6 for red…and so on… You can then look at your photos by filtering only 3 stars and higher or 4 or 5…etc.
    2.) When you have gone thru all of the photos and rejected all the ones you want to delete…then hit ctrl + backspace and delete all rejected photos…this simple trick has made my culling 100% faster.

    These few tips have helped me…hope they help you.

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