How to blend negatives and conversions with other images in LR

I have a mixture of slide photos converted colour negatives and digital photos of varying quality as cameras improved. I keep them in the photoshop catalogue but have hesitated to replace the negative with the negative pro products as the finals might change with new techniques. However is there a way to store both the negative and the transformed image in the lightroom catalogue so that the finals are visible when needed alongside the other images taken at the same time or same place. How do you handle this properly?

I’m sure there are a lot of different organizational workflows that work for different people’s different need’s. But for me my folder set up is RAW/decade/year/event and then a seperate Photos/decade/year/event. Whereas the Raws contain my raw files both negatives, positives, and digital files. As I process them in Lightroom those changes are non destructive and the edits live in the catalogue but don’t change the actual files. Once I finish editing, I export to jpegs for social media and general sharing and place in the Photos folder chain. I don’t delete any of the raws and treat them as archival. I re-process things on occasion and can make new processed jpegs, at which point I sometimes delete and replace the processed images.

Lubber, sorry, but this is a rather confusing post, so let’s sort out the ambiguities and then see whether I’ve understood the issue and can help. (1) There is no such thing as a Photoshop catalog in the Adobe suite. We have either Bridge which works with Photoshop, or we have the Lightroom catalog which works with Lightroom. Bridge replicates your computer hard-drive where you store the photos. Nothing gets into the Lightroom catalog unless you put it there by importing photos (preferably from the hard drive, but can also do it from a camera card).
(2) In Lightroom, nothing is “final” unless you decide it’s final, because the raw file never gets destroyed and all the history steps are retained (unlike Photoshop where they are not, but in Photoshop we also have non-destructive workflows). That said, “new techniques” wil not change photos unless you deploy those techniques to change them, the exceptions being that upgraded process versions can alter image appearance a little or more, but you have control over that.

With those clarifications settled, let us now look at catalog management. It should start with how you organize your hard-drive and whether you use Collections in Lightroom. To the extent you make your computer folder structure and your Lightroom catalog consistent, life is easier. The Lightroom catalog has two organizational frameworks: the folders you import from the hard drrive on top, and below that, Collections, which you create and organize as you wish.

As Mck13 above said, there are many ways of doing this. Looking at what you are dealing with, if I were in your shoes setting up my hard drive (before we get to Lightroom), I would use the Pictures folder as the main container (container is just another word for folder that contains photos or other folders), then I would create a sub-container for each subject or each Photoshoot. Within each sub-container I would create sub-folders by type of photo - i.e. whether it is a digital file, a scanned slide or a scanned negative. Then you can create another layer of sub-folders within each of those for raw and processed versions. You can use file naming conventions to distinguish between different formats, or the file extension if that works, depending on workflow choices.

Having set-up your hard drive this way, it is then easy to pinpoint from exactly where you wish to import photos to create your Lightroom catalog structure and content. BTW, important, if you are re-arranging anything in an existing catalog, you should edit your hard drive structure from within the existing Lightroom catalog, not behind its back. If you do the latter Lightroom won’t know where your files are and you will need to reconnect whatever you moved or renamed.

Once you are in Lightroom, as mentioned above, the workflow process would be to import the photos from the desired source, and for each import, immediately create a collection, generally respecting the folder structure on your hard-drive. A main advantage of Collections is that within each Collection they allow you to re-order photos in a way you cannot do within the original folders themselves. Also, you can create different kinds of collections with different versions of a shoot that you may not want to re-create on your hard-drive, using valuable space when not needed. For example, if I wanted a set of Black and White renditions from colour, I could create virtual copies in Lightroom, convert them to B&W and put those in a separate Collection under the original Collection. They are just meta-data, not new images unless you send them to Photoshop and save them as TIFFs or JPEGs for example.

Anything you process in Lightroom, whether from Negative Lab Pro for negatives or other applications for scanned slides or digital images will always be available in their original state regardless of how much editing you pile on top of them. So if you change your mind about how a photo should look, or about what happened to it as a result of a process version upgrade, you can go back in and fix it.

Let us say you need to leave Lightroom to make some edits in Photoshop that Lightroom cannot do. Again, no organizational problem here, if you do it right: you would select “Edit In…” (having set-up your Preferences beforehand to edit in Photoshop let us say). “Edit in” will open the photo in Photoshop. You make the changes you want in Photoshop and you click “Save”. The file will be saved in the format you selected beforehand in Preferences (let us say TIFF at 360 PPI). The saved photo will then re-open back in Lightroom as a new image beside the one you sent to Photoshop, so you have both versions right there side by side. Because you have managed all this from within Lightroom, Lightroom keeps track of it all and you don’t need to worry about further re-organization.

OK, I’ve just about written a novel about all this, so I’ll stop here hoping I’ve given you some insights that target your main concerns and will be useful.

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I apologise for the long delay in replying to you and thanking your for your thoughtful help. This field is not my primary occupation and thus gets left for periods. I am now retired but over the years took photos with equipment that was available and thus accumulated different types of images without regard to their later disposition. I did however collect folders of negatives along with boxes of slides etc etc. I then tried to use lightroom as a way to collect them and improve them digitally. Hoping that my negatives would be better than the small prints that I had previously collected. I then use lab negative pro to develop them but not wanting to lose the digital images of the film negatives I have kept both the preprocessed as well as the processed images. I am half way through this work. I am planning to clean up my act and reorganise before creating more chaos I already have some 40.000 of the original images. on two different that use for lightroom. and the other on a server for other people to browse. This is all being made more complex by the flood of cell phone images which seem to want to organise themselves in numerous ways.The incompatibility of different storage systems does not help as there are no standards.
Clearly Lightroom is the gold standard in all of this which is why I want to learn more.
Thanks so much for your advice.