Free Super-Fast Culling of Your Images Before Importing Into Lightroom

If LIghtroom has an Achilles Heel, it’s the speed in which not only thumbnails appear after importing a shoot, but more importantly how long you have to wait to see a large size preview. That’s why I paid $150 for Photo Mechanic – a separate program that lets me see my imported images really fast. I can drag any folder of Raw images onto it and boom – big large size previews on-screen that appear as fast as I can hit my right-arrow key. No waiting for it to draw. No “Loading” message – It’s lightning-fast. Just about every sports shooter I know uses it because when you’re on a deadline covering games you’ll never hit your deadline if you wait for Lightroom to pokily draw your thumbnails and large previews.

That’s why I’m so intrigued with a relatively new program called “Narrative Select.” I ran across it this weekend totally by chance, downloaded the FREE version, and I have to say – it works great thus far. It’s very much like a stripped-down version of Photo Mechanic with all its speed and lightning-fast previews (but of course, it doesn’t have many of Photo Mechanic’s more advanced features). It does have some cool features that PM doesn’t have, like a close-up panel that lets you see zoomed-in image detail even closer than a full-size preview, and it can do Eye and focus assessments so you can see which ones aren’t sharp so you don’t waste time when doing your initial culling (though that last part is limited in the free version).

The way I use it is to quickly go through my shoot, make my Picks (you tag them by hitting the letter “T” same as you would in Photo Mechanic), and then when you’re done tagging your Picks, you can “Ship” these images directly over to Lightroom’s import window (see above). All you have to do is click the Import Button and just those picked images now appear in Lightroom. Pretty slick.

I don’t use a 3rd party application like this for culling every single shoot – just ones where I need to find the best images quickly, or one where I need a particular image and don’t want to do a whole import. If I’ve got more time, I just wait for Lightroom to mosey through my import, but when speed matters, I think the free version of Narrative Select might be just the ticket.

Here’s the link to learn more, and download either their free version or the paid version (you do have to give them a verifiable email, but you knew that was coming, right?). Anyway, these are just my first impressions, but t’s worth giving it a quick look if thumbnail and preview speed is an issue.

Don’t forget – tomorrow is Part 4 of my series called “Photoshop for Lightroom Users” which has been going over like a lead balloon (not a single comment on any of them so far. Sigh).

Anyway, ya’ll have a kick-butt Monday! 🙂


P.S. Today I’m teaching my “Lightroom Crash Course” Pre-conference session for The Lightroom Conference which officially kicks off tomorrow. It’s not too late to sign up. Tickets, class schedule, instructor list, and more at this link.

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