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Managing Photos in the Library Module of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

Martin Evening explains how, through the use of careful file naming, custom metadata, and keywords, you can make image searching in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 equally as fast and easy as locating music on your iPod.
This chapter is from the book
  • How to use the metadata tools in Lightroom to manage your catalogs

Lightroom is designed to help you organize and catalog your images from the very first moment you import your capture files into the program. And from there on, Lightroom provides a flexible system of file management that can free you from the rigid process of having to organize your images within system folders. Although Lightroom does still use a folder system for storage, it can also manage your images globally by using metadata to filter your image selections. A good example of how such a system works is to look at the way music files are managed on an Apple iPod using the iTunes software. If you are familiar with importing music via iTunes, you know that it doesn't matter which folders the MP3 files are stored in, so long as iTunes knows exactly where to locate those files. When you select a track to play on an iPod, you search for the music by using the metadata, such as the song or album title.

Lightroom works in exactly the same way by encouraging you to use relevant naming for your folder imports and add keywords and other metadata to everything at the time of import. Through the use of careful file naming, custom metadata, and keywords, you can make image searching equally as fast and easy as locating music on your iPod.

Working with metadata

With a folder-based organizational system, your file searching success depends on your ability to memorize the folder structure of the hard drive and know where everything is stored. Anyone who is responsible for maintaining a large image archive will already be aware that this method of file management soon becomes unwieldy. What is needed is a cataloging program that can keep track of everything. Therefore, the trend these days is to use file management by metadata, where you search for a file by searching its attributes rather than trying to remember which folder you last put something in.

As your image library grows, you will come to rely on Lightroom's Filter bar and Filmstrip filters to narrow down the selections of images in Lightroom. Some examples have already been given, such as the use of the Filmstrip Filters (see page 108) to narrow down a selection to show ratings just of one star or higher, or two-star images only, and so on. We have also looked at how to use the Folders panel to manage the image library. But the real power of Lightroom is its database engine, which enables you to carry out specific searches and help find the images you are looking for more quickly.

It is in no way mandatory that you follow all of the advice offered in this chapter, as each person will have his or her own particular image management requirements. You may indeed find that you just want to use the Folders panel to catalog your library images and that is enough to satisfy your needs. But hopefully one of the key things you will learn in this chapter is that the time invested in cataloging an image collection can pay huge dividends in the time saved when tracking down those pictures later. The image management tools in Lightroom are far from being a complete asset management solution, but they do offer something for nearly everyone. Some people may find the cataloging tools in Lightroom insufficient. But even so, the data you input via Lightroom is fully accessible in other more advanced image asset management programs.

The different types of metadata

Lightroom is able to search the database quickly by using the metadata information that is linked or embedded in the images. The metadata used in Lightroom falls into several types. One type is informational metadata, such as the EXIF metadata that tells you things like which camera was used to take a photograph along with other technical information such as the lens settings and image file type. Custom metadata is used to enter information about who shot the photograph, how to contact the creator of the photograph, and the rights usages allowed. Another type of metadata is keywords information, which you can enter to categorize your images.

As explained earlier, the way Lightroom uses this metadata is fairly similar to the way a program like iTunes categorizes your music collection. For example, when you search for a music track on an MP3 player such as an iPod, instead of searching for tracks by folders, you search for them using the metadata information embedded in the individual music files. In the case of MP3 files, they mostly have the necessary metadata information already embedded when you buy the music tracks. You can also use iTunes software to automatically locate the metadata information for newly imported music CDs via an online database.

In the case of Lightroom, most of the catalog information has to be added manually by the person who took the photographs. This process requires that you spend time entering this information (although there are various tips coming up in this chapter that show you how to avoid repetitively entering this data for every single image). But the trade-off is that the time invested in cataloging your images in the early stages will reap rewards in the time saved when retrieving your files later. In most cases you only need to configure essential metadata once to create a custom metadata template, and you can then get Lightroom to apply this bulk metadata automatically to a set of imported photos. You can take metadata cataloging further and assign custom metadata information to individual images. It really all depends if this is important for the type of work you do. However, the effort spent adding metadata has to be proportional to how useful that information will be later.

There is a lot of detailed content coming up in this chapter about how to apply, edit, and use metadata such as IPTC metadata and keywords. I thought, therefore, that the best way to introduce this subject would be to first provide a quick example of how metadata can be used to carry out a search of the Lightroom catalog.

A quick image search using metadata

One of the key new features in Lightroom 2 is the Filter bar, which is accessible in the Content area whenever you are in the Library Grid view mode. The Filter bar combines the old Find panel and Metadata Browser features into one, along with the search functionality of the Keyword List panel. The following steps suggest just one of the ways you can use a metadata filter search to find photos quickly and gather them together into a permanent collection. We'll be looking at keywords and collections later in this chapter, but for now let's run through a typical image search procedure to demonstrate the usefulness of tagging your photos with keywords.

  1. Let's begin by showing how you can search for photos quickly, without needing to refer to the folders that the images are stored in. In the example shown here, I wanted to search for photos taken in a town in Spain. Now let's say that I couldn't remember the actual name of the place I was looking for, but I did know that it was somewhere on the island of Mallorca. You need to be aware that the left panel defines the source and the Filter bar will filter whatever is selected there first. To carry out a complete catalog filter search, I first selected All Photographs in the Catalog panel and then went to the Filter bar, clicked the Text tab, set the text search criteria to Keywords, and typed Mallorca.
  2. I have visited this island several times and taken over 1,700 photos there. To narrow the search, I clicked the Metadata tab. This revealed the Metadata search options, where I clicked the 2007 year date in the Date list.
  3. I could now see a narrowed set of keywords in the Keyword list next to the date panel. As I expanded the Places keyword subfolders I came across the keyword for the town of Sineu—that's the place I was looking for! I clicked the Attribute tab and then clicked the two-star filter to narrow the selection further.
  4. I hid the Filter bar (124icon01.jpg), applied an Edit 124icon02.jpg Select All to select all of the photos, and pressed the 124icon03.jpg key to add the selected photos to a Quick Collection.
  5. I pressed 124icon01.jpg again to reveal the Filter bar and did a new search. This time, I used a text search for photos with the keyword Malta and with a rating of two stars and higher. I then pressed 124icon03.jpg to add them to the current Quick Collection.
  6. The Quick Collection now contained 23 selected photos and it was time to make this temporary collection more permanent. I chose Edit 124icon02.jpg Select All to select all of the photos, clicked the Add Collection button at the top of the Collections panel, selected the Create Collection option, and titled this new collection Mediterranean towns.
  7. Here is the final stored collection, which represents the combined result of the two separate Lightroom catalog searches. This quick intro by no means covers everything about metadata searches and collections. But it does at least give you a rough idea of how and why it is useful to tag photos in the catalog and also why you don't necessarily need to be concerned with how the photos are actually stored in the system folders.

Metadata panel

Let's now look at the Metadata panel. Figure 4.1 shows the default Metadata panel view, which displays a condensed list of file and camera information. At the top is the Metadata Preset menu with the same options as those found on the File Import menu (for more about creating and applying metadata presets, see page 135). Below this are fields that show basic information about the file such as the File Name and Folder. Underneath that are the Title, Caption, Copyright, Creator, and Location fields. These are all editable, and when you click in a blank field, you can directly enter custom metadata, such as the image title and copyright information. Below this are the image Rating and Label information, followed by the basic EXIF data items. This data is informational only and shows things like the file size dimensions, the camera used to take the photograph, camera settings, lens, and so forth.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 Here is the default view of the Metadata panel information, which shows just the basic file info metadata. The action arrow buttons that appear in the Metadata panel views provide useful quick links. For example, if you click the Folder button (circled), this will take you directly to a view of the folder contents the selected photo belongs to.

Many of the items in the Metadata panel have action arrows or other buttons to the right of each metadata list item, and these provide additional functions. For example, if you click the action button next to the Folder name (see the action button circled in Figure 4.1), this will take you directly to a Grid view of the source folder contents.

Metadata panel view modes

If the metadata panel in your version of Lightroom looks different from the one shown in Figure 4.1, this is probably because you are using one of the seven other Metadata panel layout views. Each photo can contain a huge amount of metadata information, so if you want to see everything, you can select the All view. But if you want to work with a more manageable Metadata panel view, then I suggest you click the view menu shown in Figure 4.2, which will let you access the alternative Metadata panel view options (Figure 4.3 compares some of the main Metadata panel view modes). You can then select a Metadata panel view more suited to the task at hand. For example, the EXIF view mode displays all the non-editable EXIF metadata, while the IPTC view mode concentrates on displaying the IPTC custom metadata fields only. The Large Caption view mode displays a nice, large Caption metadata field, which gives you lots of room in which to write a text caption (the large caption space here does at least make the Caption field easy to target—click anywhere in the Caption field and you can start typing). While you are in data entry mode, hitting Enter or Return now allows you to add a carriage return in this field section rather than committing the text.

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2 The Metadata view options.

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3 This shows a comparison of some of the main Metadata panel view modes.

The Location view mode offers a metadata view that is perhaps more useful for reviewing travel photographs. And finally, the Minimal and Quick Describe view modes are suited for compact Metadata panel viewing such as when working on a small-sized screen or laptop.

General and EXIF metadata items

Let's now look in more detail at the items that can be displayed in the Metadata panel. Figure 4.4 shows a complete list of what items you might see listed when using the All view mode. There are a lot of metadata items that can be displayed here, and most of them are fairly self-explanatory. So I've provided explanations for those that are not so obvious, or that offer some interesting hidden tips and features. You might not see everything listed here when you compare this with what you are seeing on your computer; that's because certain items require the metadata to be present before it will be displayed. So if you don't have an audio sidecar file attached or GPS metadata embedded in the file, nothing will be shown in the panel.

Figure 4.4

Figure 4.4 The Metadata panel showing the All view mode.

File Name

This displays the filename for the currently selected photo. If you need to change the name of a file, you can't do so directly in the Content area as you can in Bridge, so use this field to make any name changes. If you want to carry out a batch rename action, select the photos and click the button to the right to open the Rename Photo dialog.

Sidecar Files

The Sidecar Files item shows up whenever there is a sidecar file associated with an image. They are always hidden from view when you inspect images in Lightroom, and so this extra item in the Metadata panel lets you know if an .xmp sidecar is present.

Copy Name

The Copy Name field refers to virtual copy images made in Lightroom. Each virtual copy image can be an alternative version of the original master (or negative as it is sometimes described in Lightroom). By making virtual copies you can apply different crops or color treatments. But since virtual copies all refer to the same master, they all share the same root filename. Now, whenever you create a new virtual copy, Lightroom will label each new virtual copy as Copy 1, Copy 2, etc. But you'll most likely want to edit this name. To explain this further, refer to Figure 4.5, in which an original DNG image has been selected and three virtual copies are associated with the master (you can tell they are virtual copies because they have a turned-up page icon in the bottom-left corner). In Figure 4.6, I renamed the Copy 2 photo (second one from the right) to Grayscale, which brings us to the Go to Master action arrow (circled). If you have a virtual copy image selected in Lightroom, you can always locate the parent master photo by clicking this button. Virtual copy images can quite often end up being separated from the master, because you may have assigned a different star rating to the virtual copy version, or they may be grouped in a collection, removed from the master, parent image. With this action button, you can quickly trace the master version photo.

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5 Here is a view of a master photo with three virtual copies. The copy names will be shown in the Metadata panel.

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6 If you are inspecting a virtual copy image, its copy name will appear in the Copy Name fi eld. Click the action button next to it to locate the master image.

Metadata Status

If there is an issue with the metadata status of a catalog image, the Metadata Status item will show up to indicate that the metadata status is in the process of being checked (you see an ellipsis [...] in the Metadata Status field), or that the metadata for the photo has been changed. This message tells you that the metadata status is out-of-date. It could mean that the metadata, such as the metadata text, keyword, rating, or Develop setting, has been changed in Lightroom and has not yet been saved to the image's XMP space. Clicking the button to the right provides a quick answer (see Figure 4.7), as will a quick check to see if there is a warning icon in the photo's grid cell. Or, it could mean that the metadata has been changed by an external program such as Bridge and that you need to go to the Metadata menu in the Lightroom Library module and select Read Metadata from File. The ins and outs of metadata saving, XMP spaces, and Lightroom settings form quite a complex subject. For a more detailed explanation, please refer to pages 175–182 in this chapter.

Figure 4.7

Figure 4.7 If a catalog photo's metadata appears to be out-of-sync, the Metadata Status item will appear in the Metadata panel and indicate it has been changed. Click the button to the right to reveal what needs to be done to get the metadata back in sync again. If there is no synchronization problem, the Metadata Status item will remain hidden.

Cropped photos

If a photo has been cropped in any way, the Cropped item will appear in the Metadata panel, showing the crop dimensions in pixels. If you click the action button next to it, it will take you directly to the Crop mode in the Develop module.

Date representation

There are a few changes to the way file dates are handled and displayed in the Metadata panel compared to version 1. Date Time Original and Date Time Digitized means the date that a photo was captured or was first created, while the Date Time field indicates the time the file was last modified Figures 4.84.11 explain the differences between these bits of metadata information.

Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8 In the case of camera capture files that have not been converted to DNG, the Date Time Original, Date Time Digitized, and Date Time entries will all agree.

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9 Where a camera capture image has been converted to DNG, the Date Time entry reflects the fact that the file was modified, resaving it in a different file format. In this case a raw file was converted to DNG a few days after the time of capture.

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10 Similarly, if I were to create an Edit copy as a TIFF, PSD, or JPEG version of the original, the Date Time would reflect that this version of the master image was created at a later date.

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11 And if you import a photo that was originally created as a new document in Photoshop or was originally a scanned image, only the Date Time field will be displayed showing the date that the file was first created.

Next to Date Time Original is the Go to Date action button (this only applies to digital capture images). Clicking this button will filter the catalog view to show only those photos with matching capture dates. To exit this filter view, use the 131iconn01.jpg (Mac), 131iconn02.jpg (PC) shortcut, which will toggle the catalog filters on or off.

Capture time editing

If you know that the camera time and date settings are incorrect, you can address this by selecting Metadata 124icon02.jpg Edit Capture Time while working in the Library module. The resulting dialog (see Figure 4.12) allows you to amend the Date Time Original setting for an individual image or a group selection of images. If you are editing the capture time for a selection of images, the dialog preview displays the most selected image in the sequence and notifies you that the capture times for all the images in the current selection will be adjusted relative to the date and time of this image.

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12 The Edit Capture Time dialog.

The Edit Capture Time feature is useful for a couple of reasons. One is that the internal clock on your camera may be wrong. Did you forget to set the internal clock correctly when you first bought your camera? If this is the case, you can select the "Adjust to a specified date and time" option and reset the date and time accordingly. In fact, for critical, time-sensitive work (such as GPS tagging via a separate GPS device), you may want to keep a regular check on your camera's internal clock to ensure that it is accurate.

When you travel abroad, do you always remember to set the camera for the correct new time zone? If you select the "Shift by set number of hours (time zone adjust)" option, you can compensate for the time zone differences for date and time entries that would otherwise be correct (unless of course you want the dates and times of all your captures to be recorded relative to a single time zone).

If you ever need to revert to the original embedded date and time, you can select the "Change to file's creation date" option to reset everything back to the original capture date and time setting.

Camera model and serial number

These items instantly tell you which camera model and specific serial number were used to take a particular photograph. If you shoot using more than one digital camera body or have photos in the catalog taken by other photographers using the same camera type, this data can prove really useful, especially if you want to track down exactly which camera was used. Let's say there is a problem with one of the cameras. There may be damage to the sensor or a camera focusing problem. Using this data, you can pinpoint which specific body is responsible.

Artist EXIF metadata

The Artist name EXIF metadata will only show up if you have uploaded it as a custom user setting to your camera. I work with the Canon EOS cameras and use the EOS Utility program (see Figure 4.13) to access the Camera Settings. This allows me to enter my name as the camera owner. If you use a different camera system, the camera-supplied software will vary, but basically you should be able to do something similar to this by tethering the camera to the computer and using the utilities software that came with the camera to customize the camera settings as shown in Figure 4.13.

Figure 4.13

Figure 4.13 This shows the Canon EOS Utility program welcome screen. Click the Camera Settings/Remote Shooting option to open the Camera Capture window shown here and then click the Set-up menu button (circled) to set the owner name.

Custom information metadata

So far I have mostly described the fixed, embedded camera metadata that is displayed in the Metadata panel. We are now going to look at working with custom metadata, which is data that is used to add image-specific information. This can broadly break down into information about the image such as the caption, headline, and location details of where the picture was shot. Also included is contact information about who created the photograph, such as your name, address, telephone number, email, and Web site. Finally, this information includes how the photo might be classified and what copyright licensing restrictions might be in force. As you start applying metadata to individual photos or groups of images, you gain the ability to differentiate them further and can reap the benefits of having a carefully cataloged image database. Applying such metadata now will help you in the future. Not only will it allow people to contact you more easily, it will also help when you are working in Lightroom and want to make targeted image searches.

In Figure 4.14 you can see the Metadata panel in the IPTC view mode. You can see here that I have filled in the editable sections with examples of how you might use this panel to add descriptive information to a photo in the Lightroom catalog. You could, for example, select all the photos in a particular folder from the same shoot and start typing in custom information to categorize them. Most of the items in this panel, such as Creator, Job Title, and Address, are all pretty self-explanatory, and this is data you would want to apply to nearly every photo. However, the Headline and Caption fields can be used to add image-specific information. The Headline field might be used to describe a photo shoot, such as Xmas catalog shoot 2007, or White on white fashion shoot, while the Caption field can be used to provide a brief description of a scene, such as Crowds lining the streets at local festival parade. These custom bits of information are essential when submitting images to a picture library, and are particularly useful when you take into account that the value of an individual image can be increased as more information about the photograph is added. But even with a small-scale setup, you may find it rewarding to methodically catalog your photographs with basic metadata information in the Contact and other IPTC sections.

Figure 4.14

Figure 4.14 The Metadata panel in IPTC mode.

Metadata presets

You certainly don't want to spend too much of your time repetitively entering the same metadata. This is where the metadata presets come in handy, because you can use them to apply the metadata information that you need to input on a regular basis. To create a new metadata preset, click the Presets menu shown in Figure 4.15 and select "Edit Presets," which will open the dialog shown in Figure 4.16. The fields in this dialog will be populated with any IPTC metadata already entered in the currently selected photo. So if you have already entered some custom metadata, this will appear ready to use as a new preset. Click the Done button at the bottom to open the Save Changes dialog where you can select Save As to save these settings as a new metadata preset.

Figure 4.15

Figure 4.15 To select, add, or edit a metadata preset, go to the Preset menu near the top of the Metadata panel and click the menu list.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.16 Edit Metadata Presets dialog.

Metadata presets provide a useful way to batch-apply informational metadata either at the import stage or later via the Metadata panel. You might therefore find it useful to create several metadata templates for the different types of shoots you normally do. Let's say you are a sports photographer and are often required to photograph the home football team whenever the team plays a game at the local stadium. You could save yourself a lot of time by creating a template with the name of the football team plus location information and apply this template every time you photograph a home game.

Editing and deleting metadata presets

If you want to edit an existing preset, first choose the preset you want to edit and then select Edit Presets. Apply the edit changes you want to make and click the Done button. This will open the Save Changes dialog again where you will have to select Save As and choose a new name for the preset (it must be a new name—you can't overwrite an existing preset). To remove a metadata preset, go to the Username/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Metadata Presets folder (Mac) or Local disk (C:)\Username\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom\Metadata Presets folder (PC) and delete the preset. Lightroom metadata templates will appear listed with the .lrtemplate suffix.

IPTC metadata

The editable items you see listed in Figure 4.15 and Figure 4.16 con-form with the latest International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) standard file information specifications, used worldwide by the stock library and publishing industries. The items listed in the Metadata Preset dialog are not as comprehensive as those found in Photoshop, Bridge, or iView Media Pro, but they do conform to this IPTC metadata standard. Therefore, the metadata information you input via Lightroom will be recognizable when you export a file and use any of these other programs. Conversely, Lightroom is only able to display the metadata information it knows about. It won't be able to display all the data that might have been embedded via Bridge or iView. Should this be a cause for concern? For those who regard this as a shortcoming of Lightroom, it may well prove to be a deal breaker. But for others, the metadata options that are available should be ample. Figure 4.17 provides some suggestions on how to complete the Basic and IPTC fields. It is not mandatory that all the listed fields be completed; just fill in as many as you find useful. The IPTC Creator section normally contains your contact details, and this information along with IPTC Creator details such as the Rights Usage Terms, will most likely remain the same until you move or change your email address. It is a good idea to begin by creating a metadata template that lists your copyright information and completes all the IPTC Creator sections. Save this template as a basic metadata preset and apply it to each set of new images that you import into the library. This way, you can ensure that after every new import, all the images carry complete copyright and contact information.

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17 Here is an example of a metadata preset in which only some of the fields have been filled in and the corresponding check boxes selected.

The IPTC Image section allows you to enter information that is specific to the image, such as who provided the photograph. But note the distinction between this and the Description Writer field, which refers to the person who entered the metadata information: this might be a picture library editor, your assistant, or a work colleague. The remaining fields can be used to describe when and where the photograph was shot, job reference (such as a client art order), and so on.

In Figure 4.17 you will notice that I did not enter data into all the fields listed there and for those that were empty, I deliberately left the check boxes deselected. This is because a selected check box is saying "Change this metadata." When you create a metadata preset you will often want to devise a preset that is general enough to cover specific types of shoots but without including terms that will make a preset too specific. If you create a metadata preset to apply metadata to specific IPTC fields, you may not want to overwrite any other fields that contain existing, important metadata. Going back to the Figure 4.17 example you will notice that I only checked the boxes that contained new preset metadata. Let's say I had an image that had a caption, label, and rating information already added. If I applied the metadata preset shown in Figure 4.17 with all the boxes checked, this would overwrite these existing metadata settings with zero values, thereby erasing the caption, label, and rating. So when you create new presets it is always worth checking to make sure that you select only those items that you intend to change; otherwise your metadata presets can soon start messing up the photos in a catalog rather than enhance them. Of course, you can always edit an existing preset and deliberately set the preset to erase older metadata if you think that would be useful. But the overall message here is to configure these presets carefully and always test them out to make sure that they are doing exactly what you expect them to do.

An efficient way to add metadata

One of the things that has always bugged me about Bridge is the way the metadata entry is engineered. Even in Bridge CS3, if you select an image, make the Description field active, and enter new text, you have to press Enter to commit, select the next image, then re-target the Description field all over again to enter more text for the next photo.

Here is how it works in Lightroom. In Figure 4.18 you can see a Library Grid view of images taken at a model casting. I tend to shoot model castings with the camera tethered to the computer and update the Title field with the model's name and model agency as I go along. In the screen shot shown here you can see that the Title field is currently active and I have typed in the model's details. Instead of hitting Enter to commit this data entry, you can use 131icon01.jpg (Mac), 131icon03.jpg (PC) plus a right or left arrow to progress to the next or previous image. This step will commit the text entry and progress to the next photo. It also keeps the metadata field active so that you are now ready to carry on typing in the information for the next photo.

Figure 4.18

Figure 4.18 Here is an example of how to update the metadata for a series of photos without losing the focus on the field that's being edited in the Metadata panel.

Metadata editing and target photos

If you have a group of images selected and go to the Metadata panel, the metadata information will display <mixed> values whenever the file attributes are varied. Only those values that remain constant (such as the copyright) will display the information that is common to all the selected photos (see the example in Figure 4.19). When you are in this "default" mode of operation, you can edit individual fields in the Metadata panel to update the metadata you wish to be common to all the selected files. So for example, if you want to apply the same title to all the selected images, you can edit the Title field and this will update all the selected images so that they share the same data.

Figure 4.19

Figure 4.19 This shows how the metadata information displayed in Lightroom will look when more than one photo is selected and the photos all have different metadata information.

However, if Show Metadata for Target Photo Only is selected in the Metadata menu, the Metadata panel display will look like the version shown in Figure 4.20, where it will now be possible to read the metadata information for the most selected or target photo only, even though you may have more than one photo selected in Lightroom.

Figure 4.20

Figure 4.20 If Show Metadata for Target Photo Only is selected, the Metadata panel displays the information for the most selected (target) photo.

To show you how this feature might be used, in the Figure 4.21 example I have selected all of the photos from a folder in the catalog. The Metadata panel displays the information for the photo that is the most highlighted (the target photo). By using the 131icon01.jpg + arrow keys (Mac) or 131icon03.jpg + arrow keys (PC), you can navigate from one photo to the next without deselecting the active photo selection and read the metadata information for each individual image as you do so.

Figure 4.21

Figure 4.21 An example of the Show Metadata for Target Photo Only function in use. Note that although all the photos have been selected and the titles are different, we can now read the information for the most selected photo.

With the Show Metadata for Target Photo Only mode, the one thing you do need to be aware of is that you are now only able to edit the metadata on a per-image basis. This is a good thing because it means that you can keep an image selection active and edit the metadata of individual images. But a lot of people will be accustomed to making image selections and then using the Metadata panel to edit settings globally across the selection. So just be aware that although this menu item can prove useful (for the reasons I have just described), you probably won't want to have it enabled all of the time, as it can lead to some confusion.

Mail and Web links

The E-Mail field now has an action button next to it. Another Lightroom user can send an email to the creator by simply clicking the action button. Lightroom then creates a new mail message using the default email program on the computer. If the mail program is not currently running, Lightroom will launch it automatically. Similarly, if you click the action button next to the Website field this will launch the default Web browser program and take you directly to the creator's Web site link.

  1. In this view of the Metadata panel you can see the action buttons next to the E-Mail and Website items.
  2. When you click the E-Mail action button, this automatically launches your default email client program and prepares a new email message, ready to be sent, using the email address entered in the Metadata panel's E-Mail section.

Copyright status

The Copyright section also has an action arrow next to the Copyright Info URL, which when clicked will take you directly to the Web site link. Above that there is also a Copyright Status field (see Figure 4.22), where you can set the copyright status as being Unknown, Copyrighted, or Public Domain. You can edit the copyright status via the Metadata panel, or you can go to the Metadata panel Presets menu, choose Edit Presets, and create a new custom metadata preset via the Metadata Presets dialog (as shown in Figure 4.23).

Figure 4.22

Figure 4.22 You can set the Copyright status by clicking the menu highlighted here in the Metadata panel.

Figure 4.23

Figure 4.23 The Edit Metadata Presets dialog, showing the Copyright status options.

I should write a word or two here about what the term "copyrighted" means. Strictly speaking a copyrighted image is one that has been registered with the U.S. Library of Congress, and this is a term that applies to the United States only. So if you say an image has been copyrighted, it has an explicit meaning in the United States that does not translate to mean the exact same thing to those photographers who operate outside of the country where U.S. copyright laws do not apply. If you operate in the United States and use this field to mark an image as being copyrighted, then you should be aware of the precise meaning of the term and get these images registered. If you choose to use the Copyright field only to indicate this is your copyright, this statement should be clearly understood in nearly all countries and is all that you need to enforce your ownership rights.

Keywording and Keyword List panels

The most effective way to categorize your images is to label them with keyword information so you can use the Filter bar to search for pictures, either by typing in a specific text term to search for (such as a keyword), or by carrying out a general, filtered metadata search.

You can add keyword metadata via the Import Photos dialog as you import your images, or you can add and edit the keywords later via the Keywording panel. Figure 4.24 shows how I have sorted the keywords in the Keyword List panel into a hierarchy, which makes it easier for me to locate specific photographs. Notice how some of the keywords have been sorted into categories such as Nature subjects and Places. In the Places keyword category is a keyword subcategory called Europe and within that Norway, and then a sub-keyword: Bygdøy peninsula. You will find that it pays to establish a proper keyword hierarchy that suits the content of your library. Because you can assign multiple keywords to associate different criteria with a particular photo, you can then search for your images in lots of various ways. Note that the photo illustrated here also contains the keyword Seascapes. So you could categorize this image via using both Nature subjects > Seascapes and Places > Norway > Bygdøy peninsula.

Figure 4.24

Figure 4.24 In this example, the Seascapes keyword is a subset of Nature Subjects and the Bygdøy peninsula keyword is a subset of Places > Europe > Norway.

You can also filter by keyword using the Keyword List panel. Just click the arrow next to the keyword count number.

Three ways to add new keywords

To start using keyword metadata, you can add new keywords as you import images into the catalog (Figure 4.25) or add and edit keywords via the Keywording panel (Figure 4.26). You can also add keywords to the Keyword List panel in anticipation of the keywords needed (Figure 4.27). Then select an image you want to update, select a keyword, and click in the box to the left (Figure 4.28). Whichever method you use, once a keyword has been added, it will then always be listed in the Keyword List panel. Once the keywords are there, you can arrange them into a suitable hierarchy. After a keyword has been logged into the system, Lightroom then autocompletes keywords for you as you start typing in the first few letters for a new keyword entry. Apart from making it quicker to enter new data, this helps you avoid duplicating keyword entries through careless spelling or typos. Lightroom also autoassigns the correct hierarchy. For example, the next time I add the keyword Seascapes, the Seascapes keyword will automatically be assigned under the Nature subjects category in the Keyword List panel.

Figure 4.25

Figure 4.25 You can add keywords at the time of import. In this example, I entered the relevant keywords into the Keywords field. Lightroom will offer to autocomplete a keyword if it recognizes that it might belong to the Lightroom keyword database.

Figure 4.26

Figure 4.26 Alternatively, you can go directly to the Keywording panel and type in the keyword or keywords you wish to assign to a selected photo (in the box where it says "Click here to add keywords"). Here, I typed in "Bygdøy peninsula > Norway > Europe > Places" to add the keyword "Bygdøy peninsula" with the desired hierarchy.

Figure 4.27

Figure 4.27 You can also add keywords in advance. In this example, I right-clicked on the Norway keyword and chose Create Keyword Tag inside "Norway." This opened the Create Keyword Tag dialog. I then added "Bygdøy peninsula" as a child of Norway.

Figure 4.28

Figure 4.28 When you roll the mouse over a keyword in the Keyword List panel, a check box appears to the left of the keyword. If you click in this box, you can add a tick mark, which means the keyword is added to the currently selected image or images. If you click the arrow to the right of the keyword count number, Lightroom filters the catalog to show all photos that share the same keyword.

Applying and managing existing keywords

The Keywording panel is located directly above the Keyword List panel and provides an overview of all the keywords associated with a specific image or collection of images. When you click an image, you will see any keywords present listed in this panel, separated by a comma (there should be no spaces). As with the Import Photos dialog, you can add a new keyword by typing it into the Keywords field in the Keywording panel, and Lightroom will attempt to autocomplete the entries as you type. If you have multiple images selected, the Keywording panel displays all the keywords that are active in the image selection. Those keywords that are common to all images in the selection are displayed as normal, but those keywords that apply only to a sub-selection of the images will be marked with an asterisk (Figure 4.29). If you have a multiple selection of images and want to unify a particular keyword across all of the images in that selection, simply highlight the asterisk and press the 146icon01.jpg key. This will ensure that all the selected images are now assigned with the keyword. If you want to change a particular keyword, you can always highlight it and type in a new word or press 146icon01.jpg to remove it from the selection.

Figure 4.29

Figure 4.29 Keywords associated with a single image or group of images are listed in the Library module Keywording panel. In the example shown here, I highlighted all the images from the New York folder shown in Figures 4.30 and 4.31. The keywords marked with an asterisk indicate that these keywords apply to a sub-selection of images only.

You can apply keywords to photos in the catalog in a couple of ways. Figure 4.30 shows how you can apply a keyword to a selection of images by dragging a keyword to the image selection. The good thing about this method is that it is easy to hit the target as you drag and drop the keyword. The other option is to make a selection first in the Content area and then drag the selection to the keyword. In Figure 4.31 I selected the same group of images and dragged the selection to the keyword New York.

Figure 4.30

Figure 4.30 You can apply keywords to an image or selection of images by highlighting the images you want to apply the keyword to and then dragging a keyword from the Keyword List panel to the image selection.

Figure 4.31

Figure 4.31 You can also apply keywords to an image or selection of images by highlighting them in the Content area and dragging the selection to the relevant keyword in the Keyword List panel.

Autocomplete options

As you enter metadata for keywords and other editable metadata fields, it can save time to have the "Offer suggestions from recently entered values" option checked in the Metadata Catalog settings (see Figure 4.68 on page 176), where you can also click the Clear All Suggestion Lists button to reset the memory and clear all memorized words. If you type in a keyword where there are two or more possible sources, Lightroom will offer these as choices such as Salisbury > Wiltshire > UK, or Salisbury > Maryland > USA (assuming both are logged as keywords). See page 150 for more about the way Lightroom handles identical keywords such as these.

Removing keywords

It is easy enough to remove keywords. You can go to the Keyword List panel, select the keyword or keywords you want to delete, and click the minus button at the top of the panel. This will delete the keyword from the Keyword List hierarchy list and also remove it from any photos that had that keyword assigned to them. Of course, if you do remove a keyword via the Keywords panel you will only be deleting it from the Lightroom database. If you think that the keyword had already been saved to the file's XMP space, you will need to force-save the metadata change (the keyword deletion) back to the file's XMP space by choosing Metadata 124icon02.jpg Save Metadata to Files. By the same token, if keywords are removed using an external program, the keywords will not appear removed when you view the photo in Lightroom.

As photos are removed from the catalog, keywords that were formerly associated with those pictures will consequently become unused. You can remove them by selecting and deleting as I have just described, or clear them from the Keyword List panel by going to the Metadata menu and choosing Purge Unused Keywords. Just so that you don't remove these keywords accidentally, a warning dialog appears asking you to confirm this action.

Keyword hierarchy

It is important to plan not only your keyword list but also the hierarchy of keywords using a controlled vocabulary of keyword categories. The keyword list can be edited in the Keyword List panel by dragging and dropping the keywords in whichever way suits your needs best. It is possible to have several tiers of subcategories. For example, you could organize place name keywords in the following order: Places > Country > State > City. When you are working in the Keywording panel, you can enter new keywords and assign a hierarchy by including a > character after the keyword, followed by the category. So if you wanted to add a new keyword called Elephants as a subcategory of Animals and Nature subjects, you would type Elephants > Animals > Nature subjects. When you press 148fig01.jpg, you will see the Elephants keyword appear as a new subset keyword in the Keyword List panel and be listed in the Keyword List section of the Keywording panel.

Figure 4.32

Figure 4.32 Keywords can be used to categorize the images in ways that are meaningful to your business. In the Keywords panel view shown here, you can see how I am able to select images based on the personnel who worked with me on commercial jobs.

How you categorize library images is entirely up to you, but if you submit work to an external photo library, you will most likely be given guidelines on the acceptable keywords and categories to use when annotating photographs for submission. These guidelines are normally supplied privately to photographers who work directly with the picture agencies. But there are online resources that you can refer to that describe how to use what is known as a "controlled vocabulary," which ensures that the keyword terms used to describe the images conform to prescribed sets of words universally used by others working in the same branch of the industry. When you get into complex keywording (and I do know photographers who assign images with 50 keywords or more), it is important to be methodical and precise about which terms are used and the hierarchy they belong to.

Keyword categories can also be used to catalog images in ways that are helpful to your business. For commercial shoots, I find it is useful to keep a record of who worked on which shot. Some catalog programs let you set up a custom database template with user-defined fields. In Lightroom you can set up keyword categories for the various types of personnel and add the names of individuals as a subset, or child, of the parent keyword category. Figure 4.32 shows how I created keyword categories for Clothes stylists, Hairdressers, and Makeup artists. Inside these categories I created subcategories of keywords listing the people I work with regularly. Once I have established such a keyword hierarchy, all I have to do is start typing in someone's name. If Lightroom recognizes this as a possible match to an existing keyword in the Lightroom keyword database, Lightroom autocompletes the keyword metadata entry in addition to correctly placing the keyword within the established hierarchy. This type of organization is also useful for separating library images by job/client names. When the keyword names are in place, you should find it fairly easy to keep your catalog of images updated.

Importing and exporting keyword hierarchies

You can create your own keyword hierarchy from scratch or import one that has already been created. All the keywords that are currently utilized in Lightroom can be exported by selecting Metadata 124icon02.jpg Export Keywords. A keywords export is saved as a text file using a tab-delimited format. Similarly, you can choose Metadata 124icon02.jpg Import Keywords to import keywords into Lightroom from a tab-delimited keyword file (Figure 4.33).

Figure 4.33

Figure 4.33 Here is an example of a keyword list to which I added an imported "D-65" keyword list, created by Seth Resnick for attendees of his D-65 workshops.

A tab-delimited file is a plain text file with a tab between each indented level in the text. Tab-delimited files are one way to import and place data that is arranged in a hierarchical format. In the tip to the left you will see a link to David Riecks' Web site, from which you can purchase a ready-made vocabulary that is compatible with Lightroom. To install this, download the file, launch Lightroom, and choose Import keywords from the Metadata menu. That's it—these keywords will be added to the Keyword List panel. Similarly, you can export a keyword hierarchy for sharing on other computer systems or catalogs by selecting "Export keywords."

Implied keywords

The Keywording panel lists keywords that have been applied explicitly to images in the Keyword List section. But as I mentioned, some of the keywords that you enter will already have implicit keywords associated with them. So if in the future, I apply the keyword Bygdøy peninsula, it automatically includes the implicit keywords: Places and Europe. So I don't have to type in Bygdøy peninsula > Oslo > Europe > Places if there is already a keyword with such a hierarchy in the database. It should only be necessary to type in the first few letters such as Byg... and Lightroom will autocomplete the rest. If the Keyword List menu is set to display Enter Keywords (Figure 4.34), you can edit the keywords in this mode but the implicit keywords will be hidden (although they will nonetheless remain effective when conducting searches). If you select Keywords & Parents or Will Export (Figure 4.35), you will see a flattened list of keywords that includes the implicit keywords, but you won't be able to edit them in the Keywording panel when using these modes.

Figure 4.34

Figure 4.34 When Enter Keywords is selected in the Keywording panel, you can edit the keywords directly, but the implicit keywords will be hidden from view.

Figure 4.35

Figure 4.35 When Keywords & Containing Keywords or Will Export is selected in the Keywording panel, the implicit keywords will be made visible so that you can see a flattened view of all the keywords applied to a photo, but you won't be able to edit them.

When you enter a new keyword, you use the > key to signify that this keyword is a child of the following keyword (such as Chicago > Illinois > USA > Places). This establishes the hierarchy, and as I explained, when you use the Enter Keywords mode, all you will see is the first keyword; the parent keywords will be hidden. However, if you apply a keyword that is identical to another keyword where both have different parents, you will then see the > hierarchy appear in the Keywords dialog. To give you an example of why this is the case, take a look at Figure 4.36, in which you see the Keyword Camilla repeated twice. This is because my wife Camilla is both a makeup artist as well as being "someone I know." I can add the keyword Camilla in two separate contexts. Lightroom is able to differentiate between the Camilla I know and the Camilla I work with.

Figure 4.36

Figure 4.36 In Enter Keywords mode, you won't always see the keyword hierarchy (as used when typing in a new keyword) unless there are identical keywords but with different parents.

Keyword sets

The Keywording panel can also be used to display sets of keywords. Having commonly used keywords quickly accessible in this way can easily save you a lot of time when keywording certain types of photo projects. It offers a quick method for adding commonly used keywords to images in the Content area. Select an image or a group of images and click a keyword to apply it to the selection. To access a keyword set list, click the disclosure triangle (circled in Figure 4.37) to reveal the Set section of the Keywording panel. This will normally display Recent Keywords, which can be useful for most keywording jobs. Or, you can select one of the supplied Keyword Set presets such as Outdoor Photography, Portrait Photography, or Wedding Photography. In Figure 4.37 you can see an example of one such Keyword preset and instructions for previewing the keyboard number shortcuts for each keyword in the set. For example, if want to assign a Flowers & Plants keyword, I would hold down 151icon01.jpg to preview the number shortcuts in the Keywording panel and note that I need to use the 151icon01.jpg–9 shortcut to apply this particular keyword (see also Figure 4.38).

Figure 4.37

Figure 4.37 The Keywording panel shown here displays the custom keyword set created on this page. Hold down the 151icon01.jpg key to preview the keyboard shortcut numbers and use the 151icon01.jpg key plus number shown in the panel list preview to quickly assign a keyword.

Figure 4.38

Figure 4.38 Here is an example of the Outdoor Photography keyword set in use. With this loaded you have a set of nine keywords at your disposal with which to annotate a set of photos.

Creating your own custom keyword sets

If you have lot of photos to edit from a specific trip, or there are certain types of events that you photograph regularly, you will most likely find it useful to create your own keyword sets for these types of shoots. To do so, follow these instructions:

  1. To create a custom keyword set, go to the Keyword Set section of the Keywording panel and click "Edit set." This will open the dialog shown here (using the current keyword set list) where you can edit which keywords you would use for quick access when keyword-editing a particular project. In this example, I created a keyword set that I could use when editing photographs taken in Antarctica.
  2. After creating a new custom keyword set, go to the Metadata menu and check out the Keyword Set submenu to see the shortcuts listed for applying keywords (these shortcuts are toggled). The Keywording panel shown here now also displays this new custom keyword set. Hold down the 151icon01.jpg key to preview the keyboard shortcuts and use the 151icon01.jpg key plus a number to quickly assign any of these keywords.

Suggested keywords

Here is a brand-new Lightroom 2 feature. If you select Suggested Keywords from the Keyword Set menu, Lightroom will adapt the list of keywords that are available for use based upon the keywords that are already in that image plus those photos that are close neighbors in terms of capture time. The logic system that's used here works really well when trying to guess what other keywords you might like to add to a particular photograph. In Figure 4.39, the selected image had the keywords New York and USA. Lightroom was able to suggest adding the other keywords shown in the Keyword set list such as Times Square, Central Park, Manhattan, and Architecture. This is because all the other photos that had New York and USA as keywords also had one more of these keywords assigned. The list of suggested keywords was also prioritized based on the keywords found in photos taken shortly before or after the current photograph.

Figure 4.39

Figure 4.39 Here is an example of Suggested Keywords in use. One photograph is selected here and the Keyword set list adapts to display a list of keywords based on an analysis of the keywords assigned to similarly keyworded photos taken around the same time.

The Painter tool

The Painter tool is located in the Library module toolbar where it can be activated by clicking on the tool to float it from the docked position (see Figure 4.40 for the cursor styles). You can also access the Painter tool by going to the Metadata menu and choosing Enable Painting, or use the 154iconn01.jpg (Mac) or 154iconn02.jpg (PC) shortcut. You can then select which type of settings you want to apply with the Painter tool (see Figure 4.41).

Figure 4.40

Figure 4.40 The Painter tool cursor icon will change appearance depending on the mode you are using to reflect the type of setting that is being applied.

Figure 4.41

Figure 4.41 With some of the Painter tool options such as Rotation you will have menu options to choose from.

The Painter tool is ideal for whenever you want to repeatedly apply a keyword or combination of keywords to photos in the Library module Grid view. You can do this by clicking on single photos that you wish to edit (or click and drag over several photos). But that's not all; you can also use the Painter tool to paint using labels, flags, ratings, metadata, or Develop settings. As you can see, there are lots of potential uses for this tool: not just applying keywords, but other tasks such as painting with a saved Develop setting. Although the Painter tool is very versatile, you do have to use it carefully. Some Painter tool actions (such as applying labels or ratings) have a toggle action whereby clicking or dragging a second time causes the cursor to switch to an eraser cursor (154icon02.jpg), which will undo a setting. Also keep in mind that you have to be careful to target the thumbnail and not just the cell area. For jobs where you are constantly applying the same instruction, like "rotate this photo 90°," or "apply this set combination of keywords," the Painter tool does have its uses, but often it can be much easier to just select the photos first and then apply a setting to all the photos in one shot.

  1. To work with the Painter tool, go to the Library module toolbar and click the tool icon to activate it (or use the 154iconn01.jpg [Mac], 154iconn02.jpg [PC] shortcut). The Painter tool spray can will undock itself from the toolbar and replace the normal pointer cursor as you move it within the Grid view area.
  2. You can enter the keyword or keywords you wish to apply in the empty field in the toolbar, and as you enter each keyword, Lightroom will autocomplete the text by referencing previous or recently used keywords in the database. Alternatively, you can choose Metadata 124icon02.jpg Set Keyword Shortcut, or press 155iconn01.jpg (Mac) or 155iconn02.jpg (PC) to open the Set Keyword Shortcut dialog and enter the keywords there.
  3. The Painter tool is now ready for use. Basically, you just click or drag with the Painter tool anywhere in the Grid view. In this example I used the Painter tool to "paint" the keywords entered in Step 2. When you have finished using the Painter tool and want to switch out of "paint" mode, click in the empty area of the toolbar where the Painter tool normally lives, or use the 154iconn01.jpg (Mac), 154iconn02.jpg (PC) shortcut.
  4. As was pointed out in the main text, you can use the Painter tool to apply other things than just keywords. In this example the Painter tool is currently in Settings mode. When this mode is selected, you will see a menu list of saved Develop presets. If you select Rotation, the menu will change to allow you to select a specific rotation or to flip an image. If Metadata is selected, the menu list will let you choose from pre-saved metadata templates. And likewise, if Rating, Pick, or Label is selected, you are also offered a choice of settings in this section.

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