Last night I found myself in a common and frustrating situation that all photographers face at some point in there journey through post processing. Software not working well, computers on the glitch, or general tech mahem. We’ve all been frustrated by our computers not working and sometimes we lose our cool and just give up. My battle last night was against a crazy error from Lightroom that said “Lightroom unable to process image”. Well thanks for that Adobe Lightroom, so how do I fix it? From my own history in IT support here are some tips on how to tackle problems when you are faced with a tech issue.
IT Troubleshooting Steps For The Photographer
There is a pretty standard process you’ll want to go through to understand and hopeful solve any issue that you might face with your applications or software not working. Here is my own approach gleaned from many years in the IT world.
- Figure out how to cause the issue again
- If there is an error message, search the phrase on Google
- Visit software vendors websites and read through FAQs for tips or known issues
- Take notes along the way
- Change one thing at a time, and test
How Did I Get Here?
In the first step you’ll want to find out how you came upon the error you are seeing. This means trying the same steps you took to create the error previously. You want to to make sure you try to islolate where things broke.
In my own case The “unable to process image” error seemws to be occuring whenever I tried to open NIKs Viveza 2 plugin from Adobe Lightroom. At first I thought the issue occured when opening any file in an external editor. Through testing I learned that the same error did not occure when I opened a file from Lightroom with Photoshop.
Search the Error Message On Google
If you do encounter an error message search for the exact phrase with Google.
If you’re not a expert search ninja here is a key tip; when you execute your search put the entire error message exlcuding file names or directory paths inside of double quotes. This will find only websites that contain the full text in quotes.
As an example in my case the error message was something like Lightroom unable to process image at location C:\photos2015\1234.jpg. To find the most relavent websites I searched for the phrase “Lightroom unable to process image” in quotes. If you want to make better use of Google for searching you might check out their help page on search operators.
Check FAQ Pages
If I’m searching for a problem with a specific application a common place to start is the software’s website. I look for forums or FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions). These sites often hightlight common problems that occur and can give and you some quick advice on things to try.
In my search I found one FAQ that the issue could be caused by a corrupt preferences file. That little find was worth taking a note on.
I don’t know how many times I’ve been reading something on the internet, I travel down some series of links, close the browser then want to go back to what I was reading. Most times I can find what I was reading. It is not uncommon for me to forget where I read something. For this reason make sure to take notes or bookmark webpages that I think might be relevant.
As I was investigating my own issue I found a couple of forums talking about file system permissions problems with NAS devices. Knowing that I am using a NAS (Network Attached Storage) to store my images this seemed like a potential road to travel down. I saved a bookmark so I could go back later.
Change and Test, Change and Test Again
Once you find some potential corrective actions make a change and test the software to see if it works. While you’re at it take a note of what you did so you can put the settings back if you need to.
In my case I first investigated if my preferences file could be the problem. I quickly ruled that out. When I dug a little deeper I realized I couldn’t save files back to my NAS. A little further investigation and I identified that my issue was related to permissions writing new files to my NAS device.
Lightroom Unable to Process File Due to Write Permissions
In my case I’d be happy to share my final findings of my “Lightroom unable to process image” error for those that may land here on their own search for information. Please excuse me but I am going to geek out for a few lines here.
I had some mapped drives related to my Crashplan backup utility. Somehow the scripts I was running to mount my NAS using a netuse command had interfered with my windows mapped drives to the same locations. The conflict meant I could not write files to the windows mapped drives. By disabiling my scripts to map the drives during user login I was again able to work with my NIK and Photoshop packages directly from Lightroom.
Back to reality.
So look how easy that was. Problem solved and I’m not back to my regular post processing. Happy days have come again.