In part one of Getting to know Adobe Lightroom we looked at the basics of creating a Catalog and importing images to view them in the Library module. Hold onto your hats for today we’re going to delve even deeper into what the Library module offers…
Being organised is great. (At least I’ve been told it is, sadly I’m not speaking from personal experience…) The main purpose of the Library module is to help you organise and keep track of your photos. There are a number of ways you can do this, so you’re really spoilt for choice.
The most useful way to organise your photos is to divide them into folders, using a logical and understandable system. What that system is will be personal to you. I use a date system for my Raw files. The top folder is the year – so 2020 for this year – with a series of nested folders for each month inside that. (Rather frustratingly, the months aren’t arranged in alphabetical order so I use a prefix number to show them in order – 01jan, 02feb, and so on.) Within each month folder are more folders, one for each photography session that month. (Named by location or subject – but I could also use the date too.)
Folders are created on the Folders panel on the left of the Lightroom Library module. Right-click on the main folder and select Create folder inside… from the pop-up menu to add a new folder within the main folder. You can also Rename and Remove folders, as well as other folder-related options by selecting from the pop-up menu too. (When you remove a folder with files inside you don’t actually delete the folder or files, they’re just removed from the Catalog but not deleted from the hard drive. If you accidentally remove a folder and its files, right-click on the enclosing folder, select Synchronize Folder and follow the onscreen instructions. It’s only when a folder has no files inside that removing it also deletes it from the hard-drive.)
Lightroom offers a number of ways to help you keep track of your images, including different criteria for sorting and viewing images. The most useful are shown as icons in the toolbar below the central image section.
There are four basic ways that you can view images in Lightroom. The first (from the left) is Grid View, in which images are displayed as thumbnails. When you click on an image thumbnail you make that the active image. You can also select a range of non-consecutive images by holding down CTRL (PC) / CMD (Mac) as you click, or consecutive images by clicking on the first image in the range, holding down SHIFT, and then clicking on the last in the range. Next is Loupe View, which displays one active image only. Compare View lets you view two images side by side so that they can be, well… compared to each other. Finally, Survey View shows the active photo next to a range of other images. (With the active image shown surrounded by a white border. )
The order in which images are shown in Grid View is determined by the Sort pop-up menu. There are a number of ways to sort images, including by Capture Time (which is only really useful if your camera’s date and time are set correctly…), Image Name, and File Type. One option I use a lot is Rating, which sorts images out according to the rating setting you’ve used for an image. An image can be set to None (the default), and a star rating between one and five, which is done by right-clicking on an image thumbnail and selecting an option from the Set Rating sub-menu. Rating is a great way to rank images. I use it it sort out images that are definite keepers (five stars), images that may need some work before being a definite keeper (three stars), and images that, well… I’ll think about. (The real failures don ’t get rated, they disappear into the bin never to be seen again.)
For more detailed sorting you can also use the Library Filter above the image thumbnail area. This lets you very selectively show images based on a wide range of criteria, including Text, Attribute, and Metadata. The latter is particularly useful as it allows you to search for images based on the Camera you used, or for a particular Lens. Want to find images captured purely with your 50mm lens? This is how you do it.
Now a quick rundown of other Library module options before we get to the real heart(s) of Library (which I’ll keep a secret for now in order to cultivate an air of mystery!).
Publish services is used to automate the process of resizing (if need be) and uploading your images to various online services, as well as your Hard Drive. This should include Facebook – the option is still there – but Facebook sadly no longer lets Lightroom upload your images to its site. Histogram shows the histogram of the active image, as well as exposure settings for that image. Navigator sets the magnification of the image in Loupe View; to check for flaws in an image, such as focusing errors, use 1:1 for a 100% magnification. Quick Develop
lets you make very basic tonal adjustments to your images without without the need to jump to the Developmodule. This can be done to both individual images and applied to a range of images when multi-selected. Finally, Collections lets you group together a series of photos so that you can temporarily separate them from images in your main Catalog. A Smart Collection is created automatically from images that meet a specific criterion, such as a rating value.
Phew, right back to the mysterious heart(s) of Library… Which are Keywording and Metadata. Both allow you to add information to images that will help you find images easier later. And, which is very necessary if you have any aspirations for selling your photos through a picture library later.
Lightroom can display both EXIF and IPTC metadata. What’s the difference? EXIF metadata is applied by the camera at the moment of shooting an image. It includes exposure information – aperture, shutter speed etc. – as well details such as the type of camera used and the lens fitted to the camera. (Which is how Library Filter is able to find your 50mm lens images…) You can’t edit EXIF data in Lightroom, but it’s useful to have it on display nevertheless. You can edit IPTC metadata though, and it includes Copyright information, image Caption and Keywords. What gets added to IPTC is entirely up to you. Ideally though, it should be relevant to the image. Captionfor instance should be used to describe an image in a concise but descriptive way. A general rule is to describe where and when the image was shot, the names of any people in the shot, or the client the image was shot for.
Keywords, added in the Keywording panel, are descriptive words or short phrases. You start by typing in keywords, separated by a comma or semi-colon. Lightroom is clever though. After a few images it will start to learn what keywords are likely to be relevant and begin making Keyword Suggestions. So, for example, if you’ve previously used landscape and twinned with it with nature, Lightroom will associate the two words. Add landscape to an image and Lightroom will automatically suggest nature from that point on. All you have to do is click on the suggestion to add it to the image’s keywords.
You can Sync Metadata and Sync Settings by multi-selecting images and then ticking which of the various options you want to sync. This saves an awful lot of time over adding keywords and settings individually to each image in the Catalog…
Next time we’ll look at the Develop module and see how you can refine an image so that it matches your original vision.