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Finding Photos Fast in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

Now that you've given your photos names that make sense when you imported them, and you applied a few keywords to help make searching easier, you can put your hands on exactly the photo (or photos) you need, in just seconds. In this excerpt from a The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers, Scott Kelby shows you how.
From the book

Okay, so to make finding our photos easier we gave them names that make sense when we imported them, and we applied a few keywords to help make searching easier, and now we finally get the pay-off: we can put our hands on exactly the photo (or photos) we need, in just seconds. This has been our goal from the very start—to set things up the right way from the beginning, so we have a fast, organized, streamlined catalog of our entire photo collection, and now we’re ready to take ‘er out for a spin.

Step One:

Before you start searching, first you need to tell Lightroom where you want it to search. If you want to search just within a particular collection, go to the Collections panel and click on that collection. If you want to search your entire photo catalog, then look down on the top-left side of the Filmstrip and you’ll see the path to the current location of photos you’re viewing. Click-and-hold on that path and from the pop-up menu that appears choose All Photographs (other choices here are to search the photos in your Quick Collection, your last import of photos, or any of your recent folders or collections).

Step Two:

Now that you’ve chosen where to search, the easiest way to start a search is to use a familiar keyboard shortcut: Command-F (PC: Ctrl-F). This brings up the Library Filter bar across the top of the Library module’s Grid view. Chances are you’re going to search by text, so just type in the word you’re searching for in the search field, and by default it searches for that word everywhere it can—in the photo’s name, in any keywords, captions, embedded EXIF data, you name it. If it finds a match, those photos are displayed (here, I searched for the word “window”). You can narrow your search using the two pop-up menus to the left of the search field. For example, to limit your search to just captions, or just keywords, choose those from the first pop-up menu.

Step Three:

Another way to search is by attribute, so click on the word Attribute in the Library Filter and those options appear. Earlier in this chapter, we used the Attribute options to narrow things down to where just our Picks were showing (you clicked on the white Picks flag), so you’re already kind of familiar with this, but I do want to mention a few things: As for the star ratings, if you click on the fourth star, it filters things so you just see any photos that are rated four stars or higher (so you’d see both your 4-star and 5-star images). If you want to see your 4-star rated images only, then click-and-hold on the ≥ (greater than or equal to) sign that appears to the immediate right of the word Rating, and from the pop-up menu that appears, choose Rating is Equal to, as shown here.

Step Four:

Besides searching by text and attributes, you can also find the photos you’re looking for by their embedded metadata (so you could search for shots based on which kind of lens you used, or what your ISO was set to, or what your f-stop was, or a dozensother settings). Just click on Metadata in the Library Filter, and a series of columns will pop down where you can search by date, camera make and model, lenses, or labels (as shown here). However, I have to tell you, if the only hope you have of finding a photo is trying to remember which lens you used the day you took the shot, you’ve done a really lame job of naming and/or keywording your shots (that’s all I’m sayin’). This should truly be your “search of last resort.”

Step Five:

Again, there are four default ways to search using the Metadata options:

  • By Date:
    • If you think you can remember which year the photo you’re looking for was taken, in the Date column, click on that year, and you’ll see just those photos appear. If you want to narrow it down further, click the right-facing arrow to the left of the year, and you’ll find each month, and then you can drill down to the individual days (as shown here).
  • By Camera Body:
    • If you don’t remember the year you took the photo, but you know which camera body you took the shot with, then just go straight to the Camera column and click directly on the camera (you’ll see how many photos you took with that camera listed to the right of the camera body). Click on the body, and those photos appear.
  • By Lens:
    • If the shot you took was a wide angle, then go right to the Lens column, click on the lens you think it was taken with, and those images will appear. This helps if you know the photo was taken with a speciality lens, like a fisheye—you can just click right on that lens (as shown here), and you’ll probably find the shot you’re looking for pretty quickly. By the way, you don’t have to start with the Date column, then Camera, then Lens. You can click on any column you’d like, in any order, as all of these columns are always “live.”
  • By Label:
    • The last column seems somewhat redundant to the Attribute search options, but it actually is helpful here if you’ve found 47 photos taken with a fisheye, and you know you have the best ones marked with a label. This will narrow things down even further.

Step Six:

Let’s say you don’t really ever need to search by date, but you do a lot of lowlight shooting, so instead, searching by ISO might be more helpful. Luckily, you can customize each column, so it searches for the type of metadata you want, by clicking on the column header and choosing a new option from the pop-up menu (as shown here, where I’ve chosen ISO Speed for the first column). Now, all my ISOs will be listed in the first column, so I know to click on 800, 1600, or higher to find my low-light shots. Another helpful choice (for me anyway) is to set one column to Creator (the copyright info), so I can quickly find shots in my catalog taken by other people with just one click.

Step Seven:

Want to take things up one last notch? (Sure ya do!) If you Command-click (PC: Ctrl-click) on more than one of the three search options in the Library Filter, they’re additive (go ahead, Command-click on Text, then Attribute, then Metadata, and they just pop down one after another). Now you can search for a photo with a specific keyword (in this case, “Italy,”) that’s marked as a Pick, with a Red label, that was taken at ISO 800, with a Nikon D5000, using a 70–300mm lens, and is in Landscape (wide) orientation (the result of that search is shown here). Ya know what else is cool? You can even save these criteria as a preset. You have to admit, although you shouldn’t have to resort to this type of metadata search in the first place, it’s still really amazing.

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