We pretty much only use centre-weighted metering. This is the type of metering typically found in film cameras. Using this metering mode you eventually learn to judge the light on your subject, along with the light in background (back lit, front lit) and determine whether you need to under expose, neutrally expose, or over expose based on your meter reading.
Many digital cameras also feature a spot metering mode that allows you to meter from a much smaller part of the frame (the very centre for instance). This can be useful in situations like the one you mentioned where you’re outdoors, it’s sunny, and the scene is possibly backlit. In this case you could get the correct exposure by using spot metering and metering right off your subjects’ face.
One final thing to mention is that if you’re shooting in manual mode and the light isn’t changing very quickly then you can always just check the photos on the back of your camera to see if you’re getting the exposure you want.
Are you printing the photos on your own printer? If so you could use the Print module in Lightroom to easily manage printing your photos at different sizes.
If you’re submitting these photos to be printed at a print shop then you’ll need to export them as tiffs or jpegs. In this case it depends where you’re getting them printed. Some printers allow you to submit full resolution photos online and adjust the crop in a web app (like Costco). Pro printers (like WHCC) have a program (ROES) that you download and install on your computer that handles cropping and photo upload.
Another option is resizing your photos to exactly the size you want (cropping to 8×10, adjusting the image size to 10 inches on the long side, at 300 pixels per inch (PPI)). I usually need to do this when I’m printing a photo from Photoshop.
The only time we apply output sharpening from Lightroom is if we’re printing directly from Lightroom (standard gloss or matte sharpening depending on paper), or if we’re exporting blog sized images from Lightroom (standard or sometimes high sharpening for screen.
If we’re exporting high resolution images for a client then we don’t apply output sharpening (because we don’t know what the exact intended output might be). For albums we sharpen right before print, when the final details (size, paper type, images) have been confirmed. We don’t worry about sharpening on the proof PDF, as it’s not a final product, and only for clients to check layout/image selection.
For our setup we have one computer is a “server” workstation. This computer contains all our RAW photos as well as all our derivative files (JPEGS, album designs, business documents, personal stuff etc.). Basically a copy of all our data sits in this one server computer (the data is backed up against hard drive failures and a copy of the data is also swapped offsite on a regular basis). We’ve found it’s just easier to manage data when it’s all stored on one computer.
Having the one server computer makes it easy to connect to this computer from our multiple other computers (one other desktop computer, and Lauren and I both have laptops). We connect to the server through our network. If we’re doing light work with our laptops it’s usually fine for us to connect to the server over wifi. All our Lightroom editing gets done on the server workstation (since the Lightroom catalog cannot be networked).
In instances where we’ve needed to work on RAW processing at the same time then we’ll import photos onto the other desktop computer’s Lightroom catalog and once editing is complete we can sync back any changes made to the main server workstation.
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