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Exporting Images for Print, Web and Facebook

You have successfully imported images into Lightroom and edited them. Awesome! Now you need to get those precious little files OUT of Lightroom and off to the printer, or onto a thumb drive for your client, or uploaded to Facebook to show potential clients.

This vital step is called EXPORTING. During the export all the edits and changes you made in the Develop module will be applied and the new version of your image is created (because Lightroom is non destructive and does not overwrite the original file).

Let's go through the export screen a step at a time. Important! Take your time when exporting and check each section.

Export Location

When exporting, you MUST choose where you want the exported image to be stored. This means deciding in which folder on your hard drive you want the edited image to be stored. Lightroom cannot read minds.

For example, when I export for web, I create a "Web" folder inside the original. When I export for print, I create a "Print" folder and send it there. See the area in the lime green boxes in the screen print below.

File Naming

You can rename the file to a shoot or event name, etc. Or, you can give the file name a special ending to help you recognize it later, like “web.”

File Settings

  • File format: choose between TIF, JPG, PSD, or original file type (if you shot in raw, you want to choose a different format). I always use JPG.
  • Color space: if you are printing at an online lab or a brick-and-mortar lab, you need to change this to sRGB. If you are printing at home, check with your printer's manual and choose the color space it specifies.
  • Quality: please, please move this to 100. Put it at 100 and don't move it. Why do I say that? Well, from experience you may move it to like 70% because the export was for web, then the next time you export you forget to check it and suddenly you've sent $50 worth of picture to print at 70% quality. 

Image Sizing

In this panel you can alter the size of the image as it exports. You can leave it alone and the original aspect ratio (usually 9 in x 12 in) will be exported. Or, you can alter it to be no longer than a certain pixel or inch width and more. There are too many combinations here to go through them all.

  • Exporting for Print: When exporting for print, you want the resolution to be at 240 or 300. I wouldn't recommend changing the size here, rather use the crop tool in the Develop panel for that.
  • Exporting for Web: When exporting for the internet, you want to reduce the resolution down to 72. You can also reduce the width and height of the images to fit certain parameters. For instance if your blog only allows 900 pixels wide, you set that as your long edge.

  • If you want to export for Facebook, the largest you can go is 2048 pixels wide or high. If your images are larger than that, Facebook will "scrunch" them down, which leads to not-so-great looking images.

Output Sharpening

You can set it to add a bit of sharpening as the file leaves Lightroom. The sharpening can be for print or for the web.

  • I've found the web sharpening to be significant, so I keep it at low.
  • For print I choose Matte and standard.

Watermarking

This panel is one to use when you are sharing your images on the internet and want to either protect them from being stolen, or you want to share your studio or blog name with those who may see the image.

  • If you do not want a watermark on the image, like when you are exporting for print, then turn this option off.
  • If you want to use a watermark but you don't know how to make one, see this tutorial on watermarks.

Post Processing

If you wish to edit this image some more in Photoshop or PSE, you can have it open up right into that program after export. This is particularly useful if you plan to use the image(s) in a collage or album.

  • If you will be editing the image, like adding texture or actions, I recommend you take it to PS/PSE from the Develop module. If you don't know how to do that, check out this tutorial.

Below is a screen print of an export for web. 

Helpful Tips and Tricks

  • Develop a file naming system that works for you can take a while. Keep playing with it till you find what works for you, then save it as a preset so you don’t have to do it each time you export (box highlighted in pink).
  • Exporting is simple but may be overwhelming at first due to the multiple options. It gets easier each time!
  • Lightroom allows you to print for a multitude of purposes, just not at the same time. What does that mean? Basically you can export for print or the internet, but not simultaneously.

  

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