Many photographers resort to Lightroom just to organize — often with problematic results in the sense of not even knowing where the files reside and with counterproductive/confusing file and folder organization*. Which is also huge productivity killer when you intend to work mainly in Photoshop and/or just want to organize your work by time and place, as I do.
I frequently shoot panoramas, focus stacks, aperture series, and sometimes frame averaging or various shot variations that all relate to each other (eg a particular location or sub-location). This can get quite confusing even with fairly large previews; at reduced size, I might not be able to tell apart an aperture series from a stack unless I can see the appropriate shooting info. Or I might have re-shot the same series for some reason (wind, lighting, etc)
All of those situations means I want to group the related images into a subfolder with an appropriate name.
I am not an Adobe Lightroom or Phase One Capture One Pro user. Those programs are not only an extra make-work chore for me (wasted time and storage spade), but pretty much useless , since I require Photoshop layers for just about 100% of what I need to do. So Lightroom and similar organizational programs have negative utility for me—all overhead and no benefit.
* I mean that literally; I’ve had consulting clients who had no idea where their image files even were, and with a huge mess to clean up of duplicate files and lost files (lost by Lightroom), etc. Messes so bad that it took 7-8 hours to work through.
Continues below after the video.
Organizing shoots with FastRawViewer
Enter FastRawViewer—it does not couple file organization with raw file conversion (though it does generate high grade previews extremely fast of a size you configure). In this sense it is very similar to Adobe Bridge, only... better.
FastRawViewer thus eliminates lot of the mess and complexity that comes from commingling organizational tasks with image processing tasks—perfect for my needs, and perhaps hours.
What impresses me about the libRaw folks is how they think through all of their software at every level—the design and each and every feature set is done in a way that shows great attention to detail. Plus the response to issues is very fast, with most of my suggestions implemented quickly (though I don’t get everything I ask for).
The screen show below shows FastRawViewer in a simplified setup; it highly customizable as to what it displays, what is shown or not shown, etc. Further below, I show a common task I do with it.
Making a subfolder of a related group of images
A common operation that I need to do: is to create a new subfolder containing related images: panorama, focus stack, aperture series, particular subject, etc.
Below, the need is for a subfolder for six files of a panorama. Select the files, right-clicking and choose, entering the name and hitting ENTER. It doesn’t get any more efficient than that. Well, it does in some cases—I’ve petitioned for some kind of smart auto-organize feature based on smarts within EXIF info, but so far no luck. There is a “copy” variant as well, as well as facilities to move or copy files to other already-existing folders.
That’s just one feature—check out FastRawViewer and see what it can do for you. Be aware that behavior if highly customizable, so be sure to go through the preferences to configure to suit.
Alternative: macOS Finder — sometimes useful but extremely limited and often unusable
Images grouping can be done in the Finder if the images can be seen and distinguished adequately: select the images, then right click and choose.
But the feature set is a single capability (making a new folder), and there are hassles, like not being able to folderize a single file without a multi-step process. Nor can key information that may be a deciding factor be viewed, let alone customized. Plus, the Finder is far slower to preview images and it makes it very awkward because there is no file hierarchy separate from the viewing window that works in any efficient way.
Or, as shown below, there is no preview at all, making the Finder totally useless. situation persists 3 years later after I wrote this. This situation shown below has existed for 18 months now for Fujifilm GFX100 raw files, and it is a problem for other cameras too, though common ones do show icon previews.
UPDATE: this uselessness situation persists as of Dec 2023 (thanks Apple).