Burning Man and Rapid Editing of High Volume of Photos

Today I would like to show you how my Rapid Lightroom Editing System works in real life scenarios.

Burning Man and Rapid Editing of High Volume of Photos

Last week my daughter returned home from her first Burning Man festival. She spent a week in the desert shooting with Lumix LX5 and she brought home lots of photos. She had only a couple of days before going back to school and she asked for my advice. She wanted to know how to tackle high volume of photos in a short period of time.

This is when I introduced her to the concept of the Lightroom Rapid Editing System.  The one I’ve been developing and fine tuning in the last year or so.

I described the Rapid Editing approach to photo editing in my two previous tutorials: Introduction to Lightroom Rapid Editing System and The Minimalist Guide to Editing Family Photos.

Below is the outline of the process my daughter used to process and edit Burning Man photos in a couple of hours.


First, she created folder 2015-08 Burning Man on the hard drive of her computer.

She imported close to 1000 photos to the Lightroom catalog and set a newly created folder as the destination for the import.

Total time: 10min


She went through all imported photos and use the keyboard shortcut, “X,” to flag all rejected shots.  She had plenty of them. Shooting at night with a compact camera and without a tripod is always a challenge. All rejected shots were deleted right away.

Next, she went through the photos again and, with the help of the shortcut, “P,” (P is for PICKED) she flag all photos she liked (keepers) and planned to publish them.

She ended up with 74 keepers.

Total time: 30min


This is always the most exciting step of the whole process when you create certain “look” in your photos.

My daughter had an idea for the way her Burning Man photos should look. She wanted to create an edgier look and convey the feeling of the desert heat, the harsh sun and the dusty white sand being present everywhere.

Instead of using People Preset Collection which was the logical choice, she decided to play with Cross Processed Collection. She went through the entire collection, applying presets to different photos. Her final choice was Montreal preset because it produced the effect she liked the most.

She selected the photo below and applied Montreal preset first and then with the help of the Tool Kit adjustments, she boosted the contrast, saturation and opened the shadows.

When she was happy with the results, she used the SYNC… functionality of Lightroom by applying the same editing steps to the rest of the picked photos (keepers).

The final step was to go through all the photos one by one and adjust exposure level, where necessary, with the help of ToolKit adjustments.

Total time: 90min


Publishing is the easiest and the fastest step in the entire process. With the help of publishing module of Lightroom and Lightroom plugins, with the one, you can publish your photos to the variety of online services, like Facebook, Flikr, 500px, SmugMug.

Total time: 5min


As you can see, the Rapid Lightroom Editing System allows us to process and edit a high volume of photos in a very short time, and at the same time maintaining the consistency of the style of our photography.

Burning Man Photos

by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.

6 thoughts on “Burning Man and Rapid Editing of High Volume of Photos”

  1. That’s basically the same workflow I gravitated to on my own, except that I use different presets, and mostly do the final adjustments with the right-hand panel rather than anyone’s toolkit. I do have several toolkits, but I like to optimize the look interactively, working up and down the settings.

    • Martin, when I analyzed my workflow a year ago I realized that 80-90% of my editing steps are identical for every photo so I decided to automate those 80-90% by using presets and toolkit. Now with the automation it takes me less than 1 min to apply the edits and I do not have to touch the right panel at all. It saves lots of time. And only after I dig into the right panel or jump to Photoshop.

  2. Except for some of the shots, I find them too yellow. In some where other colors are also dominant, the yellow works great.


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