I figured I’d catch up on some Q&A’s today as well as going back to some old ones that I was asked again recently.
Also, don’t forget, if you’re in Tampa I’m teaching a Lightroom/Photoshop Workflow class at Dave Cross Workshop’s next week. Sign up here.
And I’m taking the Lightroom 3 Seminar Tour to Phoenix and Indianapolis in late October. You can find out more about the full-day seminar and sign up here.

Q. I watched your eyeglass reflection video the other day. Would onOne Software’s Perfect Layers do the same thing.
A. Almost. Perfect Layers doesn’t have the Auto-Align feature that Photoshop has, but as I mentioned in the video, that feature doesn’t always do the trick and I end up resorting to changing the blend mode or opacity of the layer anyway.

Q. I use Photoshop Elements 9 in combination with Lightroom 3. Do you know why it’s not possible to open images as layers in Elements 9 (Photo > Edit In > Open as Layers in…)?
A. I really don’t know “why” you can’t do it with Elements other than you simply can’t. However, the workaround is to open one photo in Elements, then open the 2nd one and put them into the same document manually. It’ll take an extra 20 seconds but you can definitely get to the same place without that feature.

Q. How can I save my print templates to a JPEG like you did in your multi-photo print preset?
A. In the Print module, scroll down on the right hand side panels to the last one (the Print Job panel). The first setting is called “Print To”. Just turn it to the JPEG option and you’ll save your layout as a JPEG instead of sending it to the printer.

Q. I really like the look of that multi-photo grid preset you released a while back. But how do I get my photos in to it?
A. Just drag photos from the filmstrip into a grid square. Once they’re there, you can reposition how the photo looks in that square by holding down the Command (PC: Ctrl) key and clicking on the photo to drag it around.

Q. If I store my photos on an external drive, does the speed of my external drive affect Lightroom’s performance?
A. Definitely! There’s still lots of information being read back and forth between those photos and the speed will affect how fast Lightroom feels. From what I’ve found, a 5400 RPM drive would fairly slow. A 7200 is better. USB is going to be mostly bad and Firewire will of course be better.

Q. So Matt, knowing what you just said about storing your photos on an external drive, what do you do?
A. OK, I really asked myself this question 🙂 I store all of my photos (not my catalog) on a Lacie 1TB external 5400 RPM Firewire drive. It does feel sluggish sometimes but for the most part things move along pretty quickly.

Thanks for all the questions. I hope this helped a little. Have a great weekend!



  1. Mullen Photography 29 September, 2011 at 10:54 Reply

    I use two external drives for photos – lets say F: and G:

    When I import the photos into lightroom and copy all files to F:/, when I go to make a second copy to on the right hand side – the only place i can save the files are to desktop or to my library which is on my “C” drive. There isn’t anyway to get to my external drives from the drop down list.

    Any help would be appreciated. What I do now is copy them to desktop in a folder and then drag them to my external drive but that’s a PITA.


    Tom M.

  2. Ed 27 September, 2011 at 16:20 Reply

    Hi Matt
    I’ve recently made the switch from Aperture 3 to Lightroom thanks to that awesome offer NAPP sent me. Of course I’m fighting the urge to back to what I know as I find that ApertureÂ’s file management process is so much more intuitive for me anyway, but I love love the integration of work flow into CS5 and the develop module is really great and nothing beats the community aspect of the solution.

    However when I save my work from Photoshop back into Lightroom after opening in LR3 initially I swear that when I open the file again in Cs5 (i.e I want to edit the psd file again back in Cs5) all my layers are gone. I know in Aperture when I saved as a PSD and reopened my Cs5 layers where all there. Since its Adobe I know I’m doing something wrong here. I open as either a LR3 copy or Copy as I donÂ’t want to back to the original raw file. IÂ’m sure itÂ’s a rookie maneuver, but any help you could give would be awesome.

    Thx for all the tutorial and education I know itÂ’s allot of work putting those together.

  3. Martin J Sothcott 26 September, 2011 at 01:00 Reply

    HI Matt….I’m having a problem printing A4 on my Epson R320 in Lightroom print mode, it never prints the whole page, leaving an inch unprinted at the bottom of the page in portrait mode, i’ve tried printing to maximun size, creating an A4 template and zoom to fill. It shows the image filling the page, but slightly offset, but still to no avail, it has been working fine until a little while back.

  4. Sherry 24 September, 2011 at 21:15 Reply

    I’m pretty sure there is a plug in from Tim Ames, (I think) that lets you open a photo in layers in Elements 9. Do you know anything about it Matt?

  5. Janine Smith 23 September, 2011 at 23:37 Reply

    I store all my data on an external hard drive (with another for backup, and another for offisite). I don’t trust CD or DVD for backup. And I make sure to fire up all those hard drives frequently. I store my LR catalog along with my photos. The more places you’re backed up, the better.

  6. Gavin Farrington, Photographer 23 September, 2011 at 16:17 Reply

    It’s probably worth mentioning that USB3 or Lightpeak (Thunderboldt) will not slow down your work. These connections are fast enough that the drive itself is the slowest link, so using them as your interface wouldn’t feel any different from having an internal drive. USB1 or 2, and any of the Firewires (400 or 800) are slow enough that they would hamper high-performance storage devices, so it’s best to avoid them. With the exception of the very first SATA implementation, eSATA is also a good choice.

  7. RON COMSTOCK 23 September, 2011 at 13:26 Reply

    Great questions!

    As for storing on an external drive…

    I personally store all work related photos on an external drive as well. I do the same for personal photos. I have 2 catalogs each on the drive containing the photos for that catalog. I don’t notice any speed problems and once a month make a copy of each catalog , rename by only adding date and then zipping it up ( this way LR wont see it) on to another drive for back up.
    Another thing, when I am done with editing my Raw files, making adjustments and such, I will always burn 2 DVD’s of the folder for back up. Since I have LR save the xmp file next to Raw all my adjustments and such are also included in that back up.


  8. Julie 23 September, 2011 at 10:39 Reply

    Thanks for the Q&A, Matt.

    Re: the second question, Matt Dawson has a really useful plugin that addresses this issue for people using Photoshop Elements as their external editor. It provides the ability to open multiple images directly into Photoshop Elements, open them in layers, merge them to panoramas, etc. It is donationware and available at the Photographers Toolbox:


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