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Organizing and Reviewing Images in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

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The Library module is what gives Lightroom an edge over its more well-known cousin, Photoshop, and it's where you'll do most of your organizing and reviewing of images. Nolan Hester shows you how to use it.
This chapter is from the book

You’ll do most of your organizing and reviewing of images in the Library module. Along with the catalog database discussed in Chapter 2, the Library module is what gives Lightroom an edge over its more well-known cousin, Photoshop. Both give you vast photographic powers, but Lightroom’s Library module offers the most efficient way to pick, label, rate, and otherwise identify individual photos amid the incoming digital flood.

It’s tempting to jump ahead to the Develop module and immediately start fixing and tweaking the exposures of your photos. After all, it can be a bit of a slog combing through your images, comparing one against another, and making the judgments about which ones to keep and which to reject. But the time spent offers a hidden bonus: deleting poor images (explained on page 79) will leave you with far fewer—and much better—images once you finally turn to adjusting their exposures.

Adjusting Your Review Setup

Before diving into reviewing your photos, you may want to know about two very helpful Lightroom options: dimming the lights and stacking photos. Together they can make a big difference in helping you concentrate on your photos—and their sometimes subtle differences.

The “lights out” feature lets you dim or hide every part of the Lightroom interface except the photos. The stacking feature lets you gather a bunch of similar images and “stack” them, much as you might bunch up slides on an old light table to concentrate on the remaining photos. You can even automatically stack photos, which is particularly useful for tidying up contiguous, same-subject photos such as bursts of motor-drive shots, panorama sequences, or bracketed HDR (High Dynamic Range) exposures.

To dim or turn off the lights:

  1. Select the photos on which you want to concentrate (Figure 4.1). In any module:

    • In the Menu bar, choose Window > Lights Out and Lights Dim or Lights Off.

    or

    • Press the L on your keyboard once (to dim) or twice (to turn lights off).
    Figure 4.1

    Figure 4.1 Select the photos you want to focus on once the lights are dimmed.

  2. Depending on your choice, the surrounding Lightroom interface dims by 80 percent or darkens completely (Figures 4.2, 4.3).

    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 By default, the lights dimmed choice darkens the Lightroom interface by 80 percent. You can adjust the amount of dimming.

    Figure 4.3

    Figure 4.3 The lights-out choice hides every bit of Lightroom except the selected photos.

To cycle through the lights settings:

  • In any module, press the L on your keyboard up to three times to go from lights on to lights dimmed to lights off, and back to lights on.

To change the lights setting:

  1. In any module, press Ctrl-, /Cmd-, (comma) and click the Interface tab in the Preferences dialog box.
  2. In the Lights Out panel, use the Dim Level drop-down menu to set the dimming effect between 50 and 90 percent (the default is 80 percent) (Figure 4.4).

    Figure 4.4

    Figure 4.4 Use the Dim Level drop-down menu to adjust the dimming effect by 50 to 90 percent. Screen Color choices range from pure black to pure white.

  3. In the same panel, the Screen Color drop-down menu lets you choose among several colors other than black if you find that default not to your liking (including white, simulating photos on a blank page).
  4. To apply the settings and close the dialog box, click OK.

To stack/unstack images:

  1. In the Filmstrip or Grid view, select the photos you want to stack (Figure 4.5).

    Figure 4.5

    Figure 4.5 Select the photos you want to stack.

  2. Right-click (Control-click on a Mac) one of the selected images and in the pop-up menu, choose Stacking > Group into Stack (Figure 4.6). The selected photos are rearranged as one photo with a small number showing how many photos the stack contains (Figure 4.7).

    Figure 4.6

    Figure 4.6 Right-click (Control-click on a Mac) the selected images and choose Stacking > Group into Stack.

    Figure 4.7

    Figure 4.7 The photos are stacked as one photo with a number indicating how many photos the stack contains.

  3. To unstack a group of photos, right-click (Control-click on a Mac) the number atop the stack and choose Unstack in the pop-up menu (Figure 4.8). The stack disappears, replaced by all the photos previously in the stack.

    Figure 4.8

    Figure 4.8 To unstack a group, right-click (Control-click on a Mac) the number atop the stack and choose Unstack.

To expand/collapse a stack:

  1. In the Grid view, a stack is marked not only by a small number in the upper-left corner but also by vertical bars down each side of the top photo (Figure 4.9). Press the S on your keyboard or click the bar on either side of the photo. The stack expands, with each photo in the stack showing a slightly darker background than other photos in the grid.

    Figure 4.9

    Figure 4.9 To expand a stack, click the bar on either side of the top photo.

  2. After you’re done looking at the individual photos, press the S on your keyboard or click the vertical bar to the left of the stack’s first image or to the right of the stack’s last photo to collapse the stack (Figure 4.10). The stack collapses down to a single photo.

    Figure 4.10

    Figure 4.10 To collapse a stack, click the bar on the left side of the first photo.

To add a photo to a stack:

  1. In the Grid view, click on the photo you want to add to the stack (Figure 4.11). Drag and drop it on the stack and a thick, black border appears (Figure 4.12). Release the cursor and the photo is added to the stack, reflected by the updated small number in the stack’s upper-left corner (Figure 4.13).

    Figure 4.11

    Figure 4.11 In the Grid view, click on the photo you want to add to the stack.

    Figure 4.12

    Figure 4.12 Drag and drop the photo on the stack and a thick, black border appears.

    Figure 4.13

    Figure 4.13 Release the cursor and the photo is added to the stack, updating the small number in the stack’s upper-left corner.

To remove a photo from a stack:

  • In the Grid view, expand the stack and find the photo you no longer want included in the stack. Right-click (Control-click on a Mac) the small number in the photo’s upper left and in the pop-up menu, choose Remove from Stack (Figure 4.14). The photo is no longer included in the stack of related images.

    Figure 4.14

    Figure 4.14 Right-click (Control-click on a Mac) the upper-left number of the photo and choose Remove from Stack.

To change a stack’s top photo:

  • By default, a collapsed stack displays the first photo in the sequence. To use another photo in the stack, expand the stack, right-click (Control-click on a Mac) the small number in the photo’s upper left, and in the pop-up menu, choose Move to Top of Stack (Figure 4.15). That photo becomes the stack’s cover photo.

    Figure 4.15

    Figure 4.15 Right-click (Control-click on a Mac) the upper-left number of the photo and choose Move to Top of Stack.

To auto-stack photos by capture time:

  1. Select the photos you want to stack. It can be an entire folder, a single photo session, or the results of a photo search (Figure 4.16).

    Figure 4.16

    Figure 4.16 Select the photos you want to auto stack. If you want, you can select entire folders using the Folders panel.

  2. From the Menu bar, choose Photo > Stacking > Auto-Stack by Capture Time (Figure 4.17).

    Figure 4.17

    Figure 4.17 Choose Photo > Stacking > Auto-Stack by Capture Time.

  3. Set the Time Between Stacks slider anywhere between 0 seconds (the far right) and 1 hour (the far left) (Figure 4.18). The number of stacks (and unstacked photos) based on the setting appears in the lower left of the dialog box. Adjust if necessary, and click Stack.

    Figure 4.18

    Figure 4.18 Set the Time Between Stacks slider anywhere between 0 seconds and 1 hour. Adjust the time based on the stack count in the lower left and click Stack.

  4. In the Grid view, all the photos remain expanded (unstacked), but their borders have changed to indicate whether they belong to a stack (Figure 4.19). Light-bordered photos are not part of any stack; dark-bordered ones are part of a stack. The beginning of each stack shows a small number for how many photos belong to that stack. Roll the cursor over any dark-bordered photo and you’ll see a number for its position in the stack sequence (Figure 4.20).

    Figure 4.19

    Figure 4.19 The photos remain unstacked, but those with dark borders now belong to a stack.

    Figure 4.20

    Figure 4.20 Roll the cursor over any dark-bordered photo to see its position number within the stack.

  5. To collapse a particular stack, double-click the small number of the first photo in the stack (Figure 4.21). The stack collapses (Figure 4.22). To re-expand it, double-click the first photo again.

    Figure 4.21

    Figure 4.21 To collapse a particular stack, double-click the small number of the first photo in the stack.

    Figure 4.22

    Figure 4.22 To re-expand a stack, double-click the first photo again.

    or

    To collapse all the stacks, right-click (Control-click on a Mac) the small number in the upper left of any photo and choose Collapse All Stacks in the pop-up menu (Figure 4.23). All the selected photos collapse into their respective stacks (Figure 4.24). To re-expand all the stacks, right-click (Control-click on a Mac) the upper left of any stacked photo and choose Expand All Stacks in the pop-up menu.

    Figure 4.23

    Figure 4.23 To collapse all the stacks, right-click (Control-click on a Mac) the number in the upper left of any photo and choose Collapse All Stacks.

    Figure 4.24

    Figure 4.24 With all stacks collapsed, the numbers tell how many photos each stack contains.

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