Batch processing is a great way to really speed up your post-production. Lightroom has some really robust features which allow edits and presets to be copied over to multiple photographs, cutting down the time you need to spend on individual tweaks. Rather than having to copy the same action on every image, you can apply it all in one click.
The great thing about how flexible Lightroom is is that you can decide on how much of the edits you want to copy over. Just one tweak, like playing with the histogram? That’s fine. One big edit, including all of the changes that you have made to the image? You can do that too. There are a number of ways to copy changes over, so we will go through a few of the key ones here.
When you are importing files, you can apply changes to them right away. This saves you even more time, as you open the image at the same time as processing it! Head to file > import, or use the import button.
At the side of the screen where you choose your images, you will see a section that is called ‘Apply during import’. There you will see a drop-down menu with a list of all your different settings and presets, which can get pretty lengthy if you use Lightroom regularly! You can also add metadata and other changes from this menu.
Once you have selected the preset you want, hit import and your images will be added to the catalog. Now moving through them while viewing the individual images in develop, you will see that after a moment, each of them is edited using the preset you selected. You don’t have to do anything at all to make this happen – just view the image. No extra button-pushing, no selecting filters. Just watch and wait.
After editing a single image
Let’s say that you don’t know how you want to edit the images yet when you are importing them, so you need to load them up and get started with that first. Open the first image, or any random image in the collection, and make the edits that you want to make.
Now, heading down towards the bottom of the screen where you can see thumbnails of all the other images in this set, select them by hitting CTRL + A (for Windows) or CMD + A (for Mac). Stay on the image that you have already edited in the main window, as this is the one that the settings will be drawn from.
Now hit ‘sync’. This will bring up a synchronized settings window which gives you total control over which parts of the edit are transferred across. You can leave all of the boxes ticked if you need your edits to be identical, or you can give a little more freedom for sets which have more variation. Just untick the boxes for the changes that you don’t want to carry over. Simple!
With that done, click on the ‘Synchronize’ button. It will bring all of those edits to all of the images that you selected. How cool is that?
There are two areas of the synchronization options that you will want to pay particular attention to. These are the ‘crop’ and ‘local adjustments’ areas. If you have cropped the image at all, and if you have applied a filter which only affects a certain area of the image, then you should turn these off when you batch edit. The reason is that everything will be cropped – which might cut out some areas you want to keep – and everything will have those local adjustments applied in the exact same place. Unless your photoshoot has the same features in the same place on every single shot, this won’t work at all. You will even see the local adjustment being flipped and moved around if you are moving from a landscape to a portrait or vice versa, as the adjustment is made on a certain spot of the canvas – which means the computer has to process this by finding the same spot on a rotated canvas.
After editing, to a single image
This is all great so long as you want to edit the whole collection you are working on. But what if you only want to edit one, or some, of the images in the same folder?
First, select the image that you want to edit as well as the image that already has the edits done, or the images plural if you are working on more than one. Now – and this is crucial – make sure that you have the image with the edits appearing on your viewer. This is really important, because if you do it the other way around, you could actually overwrite the edits that you have done instead of writing them to the images you want to edit!
Now, use the sync button as before. Remember to double check your settings so that there is nothing copying over that should not be copied, and then confirm the synchronization. You should see the edits being applied right away to the image or images that you have selected.
The amount of control that you can have over batch edits in Lightroom makes it very appealing for those who like to use the same settings or who work on very large shoots. If you work on weddings, for example, this method will allow you to edit all of the shots in one go and leave room for individual tweaks afterwards. Imagine only needing to edit one shot and then see all of them transform into something magical!
It’s also great if you tend to work on long, in-depth edits which push images far beyond their original form. Doing that for each shot is very time-consuming, but being able to transfer them all over in a few quick clicks can make a huge difference to your time management.