Lightroom is designed to help you organize and catalog your images from the very first moment you import them. 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 let you manage your photos by folders, it can also manage your images globally by letting you use 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 iPod or by using iTunes. If you are familiar with importing music via iTunes, you know that it doesn't really matter which folders the MP3 files are stored in, so long as iTunes knows where all your music files are located. When you select a track to play on an iPod, you use metadata, such as the song title, album title, or genre to search for the music. Lightroom works in exactly the same way by encouraging you to add keywords and other metadata to your images either at the time of import or as you edit them in the Library module. Through the use of custom metadata and keywords, you can make image searching just as fast and easy as locating music on your iPod.
Working with metadata
With a folder-based organizational system, your file searching success will depend 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 can soon become unwieldy. What is needed is a cataloging program that can help you 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 instead of trying to remember which folders you put the pictures in.
As an image library grows, you will come to rely on the Lightroom Filter bar and Filmstrip filters to narrow selections of images. Some examples have already been given, such as the use of the Filmstrip filter to narrow a selection of photos and view only those images with ratings of 1 star or higher, 2-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 behind Lightroom is the database engine, which enables you to carry out specific searches and quickly help you find the photos you are looking for.
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 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 terms of 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 will be fully accessible in other image asset management programs.
The different types of metadata
Metadata is usually described as being data about data that is used to help categorize information. For example, a typical cable TV system will allow you to search for movies in a variety of ways. You can probably search for a movie title using the standard A–Z listing, but you can also search by genre, release date, or even director. Lightroom also lets you organize your image files by metadata. For example, you can sort through images in various ways: by folder name, image rating, or favorite collections. By using the metadata information that is linked or embedded in the catalog photos, Lightroom is able to quickly search the database to help you find what you are looking for. This method of searching is far superior to searching by folder location or filename alone.
As I explained earlier, the way Lightroom uses 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 specific tracks by opening named folders, you search for them using the metadata information that's embedded in the individual music files. In the case of MP3 files, when you buy a music track the necessary metadata information will already be embedded. But you can also use iTunes to automatically locate the metadata information for newly imported music CDs via an online database, or you can use iTunes to manually add or edit the tracks yourself.
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. In the case of Lightroom, most of the catalog information will have to be added manually by the person who took the photographs. Custom metadata is, therefore, information the user adds manually, such as who is in the photograph, where it was taken, how to contact the creator of the photograph, and the rights usages allowed. Another type of custom metadata is keywords, which again you have to enter manually. Keywords can be used to categorize the photos in your catalog, and if you are skilled at keywording, this can help you manage your photos extremely efficiently, as well as improve sales if you are in the business of supplying photos to an agency.
It is true that you will need to spend time entering all this metadata 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 later in the time saved retrieving your files. In most cases, you need to configure essential metadata only once to create a custom metadata template. You can then 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 depends on whether this is important for the type of work you do. Basically, the effort spent adding metadata should always 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. I thought, therefore, that the best way to introduce this subject would be to provide first 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 features in Lightroom is the Filter bar, which can be accessed at the top of the content area whenever you are in the Library Grid view mode. The Filter bar combines text search, file attribute, and metadata search functionality all in one. The following steps suggest just one of the ways you can use a metadata filter search to find photos quickly and save a filter search as 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 and thereby demonstrate the usefulness of tagging your photos with keywords.
- Let me 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 panels on the left define the source photos, and the Filter bar filters whatever is selected. To carry out a complete catalog filter search, I first selected All Photographs in the Catalog panel. I then went to the Filter bar, clicked the Text tab, set the text search criteria to Keywords, and typed Mallorca. This initial step filtered the entire catalog to display all photos that contained the keyword Mallorca.
- 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.
- 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 2-star filter to narrow the selection further.
- I hid the Filter bar (), applied an Edit Select All to select all of the photos, and pressed the key to add the selected photos to a Quick Collection.
- I pressed 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 again chose Edit Select All, and pressed to also add these to the current Quick Collection as well.
- The Quick Collection now contained 23 selected photos and it was time to make this temporary collection more permanent. I chose Edit 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.
- Here is the final stored collection, which represents the combined result of the two separate Lightroom catalog searches. This quick introduction by no means covers everything you need to know about metadata searches and collections. But it does at least give you a rough idea of how and why it is useful to use keywords 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.
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 in the Import dialog Apply During Import panel (see page 140 for more about creating and applying metadata presets). Below this are fields that show basic information about the file such as the File Name and Folder. Underneath these are the Title, Caption, Copyright, Creator, and Location fields. These are all editable, and when you click in a blank field, you can enter custom metadata, such as the image title and copyright information. Below these are the image Rating and Label information, followed by the basic EXIF metadata 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 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 takes you directly to a view of the folder contents that 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. These provide additional functions. For example, if you click the action arrow button next to the Folder name (circled in Figure 4.1), this takes 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 ten other Metadata panel layout views. If you click the view menu shown in Figure 4.2, this lets you access the alternative Metadata panel view options (Figure 4.3 compares some of the main Metadata panel view modes). Each photo can contain a huge amount of metadata information, so if you want to see everything, you can select the EXIF and IPTC view. But if you want to work with a more manageable Metadata panel view, I suggest you 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, and there is now also a new IPTC Extension view for displaying additional IPTC Extension data. 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 or allows you to add a carriage return in this field section instead of committing the text.
Figure 4.2 The Metadata view options.
Figure 4.3 This shows most of the different Metadata panel view modes in Lightroom 3.
The Location panel 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 EXIF and IPTC view mode. Many metadata items can be displayed here and most of them are fairly self-explanatory, but I've included explanations for those that are not so obvious, or that offer some interesting hidden tips and features. You might not see everything that's listed here when you compare this with what you are seeing on your copy of Lightroom; that's because certain items require the metadata to be present before it can be displayed. So, if you don't have an audio sidecar file attached or GPS metadata embedded in the file, you won't see such items listed in this panel view.
Figure 4.4 The Metadata panel showing the EXIF and IPTC view mode.
This displays the file name 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, so you need to use this field in order 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.
The Sidecar Files item shows up whenever there is a sidecar file associated with an image. Sidecar files are always hidden from view, so this extra item in the Metadata panel lets you know if an .xmp sidecar is present or not.
The Copy Name field refers to virtual copy images made in Lightroom. Each virtual copy image can provide 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, please 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 Black and white, which brings us to the Go to Master action arrow (circled in Figure 4.6). 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, they may be grouped in a collection or removed from the master parent image. With this action button, you can quickly trace the master version of any virtual copy photo.
Figure 4.5 Here is a view of a master photo with three virtual copies. The copy names are also shown in the Metadata panel, where you can edit them if you like.
Figure 4.6 If you are inspecting a virtual copy image, its copy name will appear in the Copy Name field. Click the action button next to it to locate the master image.
If there is an issue with the metadata status of a catalog image, the Metadata Status item shows up to indicate that the metadata status is in the process of being checked (you'll 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 are quite a complex subject. For a more detailed explanation, please refer to pages 185–192 later in this chapter.
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 to 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.
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 arrow next to it, this takes you directly to the Crop Overlay mode in the Develop module.
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. I have used Figures 4.8–4.11 to explain the differences between these bits of metadata information.
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 Where a camera capture image has been converted to DNG, the Date Time entry reflects the fact that the file was modified and resaved 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 Similarly, if I were to create an Edit copy as a TIFF, PSD, or JPEG version from the original, the Date Time would reflect that this version of the master image was created at a later date.
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 is displayed, showing the date that the file was first created.
Next to Date Time Original is the Go to Date action arrow (note that this applies only to digital capture images). Clicking this button filters the catalog view to show only those photos that have matching capture dates. To exit this filter view, use the (Mac) or (PC) shortcut, which toggles 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 Edit Capture Time while working in the Library module. The Edit Capture Time dialog (Figure 4.12) allows you to amend the Date Time Original setting for an individual image or a group 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 set for this highlighted photo.
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. For example, did you forget to set the internal clock correctly when you first bought your camera? 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. If this isn't the case, you can select the "Adjust to a specified date and time" option and reset the date and time accordingly.
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 always 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 in the Artist EXIF data field. 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 below in 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 Setup menu button (circled) to set the owner name for the camera.
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, e-mail, and Web site. This information can also include 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 can it allow people to contact you more easily, but it can 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 probably 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 2009 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 The Metadata panel in IPTC mode.
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 opens the dialog shown in Figure 4.16. The fields in this dialog will be populated with any IPTC metadata that's already entered in the currently selected photo. So if you have applied custom metadata already, this will appear ready to use as a new preset. Or, you can use this as a basis for creating a new preset by editing the fields in this dialog. Next, 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 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 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 and the location information and applying 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 opens 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.)
The editable items you see listed in Figure 4.16 conform with the latest International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) standard file information specifications, used worldwide by the stock library and publishing industries. For help in understanding how to complete some of the advanced IPTC fields (such as IPTC Subject Code), I suggest you try visiting newscodes.org.
The items listed in the Metadata Presets dialog are not as comprehensive as those found in Photoshop, Bridge, or Expression Media, but they do conform to the IPTC metadata standard. Therefore, the metadata information you input via Lightroom will be recognizable when you export a file for use in these other programs. Conversely, Lightroom is able to display only the metadata information it knows about. It won't be able to display all the data that might have been embedded via Bridge or Expression Media. 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 will be ample. Figure 4.16 provides a useful overview and suggestions on how to complete the Basic and IPTC fields, and Figure 4.17 shows a practical example of a partially completed metadata preset that would be suitable for everyday use.
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.
It is not mandatory that all the listed fields be completed; just fill in as many as you find useful. For example, the IPTC Content section can be used to enter headline information and details of who wrote the description. Note that the Description Writer field refers to the person who entered the metadata information; this might be a picture library editor, your assistant, or a work colleague. This type of information is not something that you would necessarily want to add as part of a metadata preset. However, the IPTC Copyright section can list information about who owns the copyright, plus Rights Usage Terms. The IPTC Creator section can also contain contact details such as your address, telephone, e-mail, and Web site. This information will most likely remain the same until you move premises or change e-mail accounts. Once you are done, you can save this template as a new basic metadata preset and apply it whenever you import new images into the catalog. This way, you can ensure that after each new import, all newly added photos will carry complete copyright and contact information.
In Figure 4.17, you will notice that I did not enter data into all the fields, 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 certain types of shoots but without including terms that will make a preset too specific. Also, if you create a metadata preset that is designed to add metadata to specific IPTC fields, you may not want to overwrite any of the 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 where the caption, color label, and star rating information had already been added. If I applied the metadata preset shown in Figure 4.17 but with all the boxes checked, it would overwrite these existing metadata settings with zero values, thereby erasing the caption, color label, and star rating data. So when you create a new preset, 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 the catalog rather than enhancing 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. 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.
IPTC Extension metadata
Lightroom 3 has now added the IPTC Extension Schema for XMP, which is a supplemental schema to the IPTC Core. It provides additional fields with which to input metadata that can be useful to a commercial photography business. If you refer back to the example shown in Figure 4.16 on page 141, you will see brief explanations of how each of these new fields may be utilized. Basically, the new IPTC Extension schema can provide additional information about the content of the image such as the name, organization, or event featured in a photograph. It provides you with further fields to improve administration, whereby you can apply a globally unique identifier (GUID). It offers fields for precisely defining the licensing and copyrights of a particular photograph. For example, instead of just saying, "This photo is copyright of so and so," it allows you to specify the name of the copyright holder, as well as who to contact to obtain a license. This might well be a picture library or a photo agent rather than the photographer himself. The image supplier can also be identified separately. Again, it might be a photo library that supplies the image rather than the photographer directly.
Photographers who shoot people have the opportunity to record specific model information such as the age of the model, which might be particularly relevant if the model was classed as a minor at the time a photo was shot. You can also provide a summary of the current model release status. The same thing applies to photographs of private properties, where, under some circumstances, a property release may be required.
A more efficient way to add metadata
One of the things that continues to irk me about Adobe Bridge is that if you select a photo, make the Description field active in the Metadata panel, and enter new text, you have to press to commit, select the next image, then re-target the Description field all over again to add a new description for the next photo.
Fortunately, this process is made a lot easier in Lightroom. Figure 4.18 shows a Library Grid view of photographs that were taken at a model casting. I tend to shoot such model castings with the camera tethered to the computer and update the Caption field with the model's name and agency as I go along. In the screen shot shown here, you can see that the Caption field is currently active and I have typed in the model's details. Instead of hitting to commit this data entry, I can use the key (Mac) or key (PC) plus a right or left arrow to progress to the next or previous image. This step commits the text entry and takes me directly to the next photo. It also keeps the metadata field active so that I am now ready to carry on typing in new information for the next selected photo.
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 photos currently selected and go to the Metadata panel, the metadata information will display <mixed> values whenever there are varied file attributes for the selected images (see the example shown in Figure 4.19). Only those values that are common to all the selected photos (such as the copyright information) will be displayed here. 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, which will update all the selected images so that they share the same data.
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 (Figure 4.21), 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 If Show Metadata for Target Photo Only is selected, the Metadata panel displays the information for the most selected (target) photo.
Figure 4.21 The Show Metadata for Target Photo Only menu item.
To show you how this feature might be used, in the Figure 4.22 example, I had selected all of the photos from a folder in the catalog. The Metadata panel displayed the information for the photo that was the most highlighted (the target photo). By using the + arrow keys (Mac) or + arrow keys (PC), I was able to navigate from one photo to the next without deselecting the active photo selection and read the metadata information for each individual image as I did so.
Figure 4.22 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, you can now read the information for the most selected photo.
With the Show Metadata for Target Photo Only mode, the one thing you need to be aware of is that you will now be able to edit the metadata only 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 for each of the individual images but without losing the selection. However, a lot of people will be accustomed to making image selections and then using the Metadata panel to edit settings globally across a 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 the time, as it can lead to confusion if you forget you have this option enabled.
Mail and Web links
The E-Mail field also has an action arrow next to it, which implies that another Lightroom user viewing someone else's photo can send an e-mail to the creator by simply clicking on the action arrow. Lightroom then creates a new mail message using the default mail program on the computer and if the mail program is not currently running, Lightroom launches it automatically. Similarly, if you click the action button next to the Website field, this launches the default Web browser and take you directly to the creator's Web site link.
- In this view of the Metadata panel, you can see the action arrow buttons next to the E-Mail and Website items.
- When you click the E-Mail action arrow button, this automatically launches the default e-mail client program and prepares a new e-mail message, ready to be sent, using the e-mail address entered in the Metadata panel's E-Mail section.
The Copyright section also has an action arrow next to the Copyright Info URL, which, when clicked, takes you directly to the Web site link. Above that, there is also a Copyright Status field (see Figure 4.23), 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 go to the Metadata panel Presets menu, choose Edit Presets, and create a new custom metadata preset via the Metadata Presets dialog where Copyrighted is switched on by default (as shown in Figure 4.24).
Figure 4.23 You can set the Copyright Status by clicking the menu highlighted here in the Metadata panel.
Figure 4.24 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 do 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 carry out photo searches, either by typing in a specific text phrase (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 or edit the keywords later via the Keywording panel. Figure 4.25 shows how I have sorted some of the keywords in my Keyword List panel into a hierarchy or keyword categories (also referred to as a controlled vocabulary). In the Places keyword category, there is a keyword subcategory called Europe and within that Norway, and within that Bygdøy peninsula. So the full keyword path here is Bygdøy peninsula > Norway > Europe > Places. Note how you enter keyword metadata in this order, placing the child keyword before the parent. This photo also contains the keyword Seascapes, which is a child of the parent keyword NATURE SUBJECTS, and the full keyword path here is Seascapes > NATURE SUBJECTS. You will find that it pays to establish a proper keyword hierarchy that suits the content of your library and give some careful thought as to how you wish to structure a controlled vocabulary.
Figure 4.25 In this example, the Bygdøy peninsula keyword is a subset of Norway > Europe > Places and the Seascapes keyword is a subset of NATURE SUBJECTS.
Three ways to add new keywords
As I just mentioned, you can add keywords as you import images into the catalog (Figure 4.26) or add and edit keywords via the Keywording panel (Figure 4.27). You can also add keywords to the Keyword List panel in anticipation of the keywords that will be needed (Figure 4.28). Once such a controlled vocabulary has been set up, you can select an image you want to update, choose a keyword from the Keyword List panel, and click in the box to the left. This adds the chosen keyword to the selected photo (Figure 4.29). Whichever method you use, once a keyword has been added, it will from then on always appear listed in the Keyword List panel. But once the keywords are there, you can always rearrange them into a suitable hierarchy and, after a keyword has been created, Lightroom can then auto-complete 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 auto-assigns the correct hierarchy. For example, the next time I might choose to add the keyword Seascapes, the Seascapes keyword will be automatically applied to the image using the keyword path Seascapes > NATURE SUBJECTS. I'll be coming back to this point later, but basically when you enter a keyword, Lightroom is able to auto-complete the keyword and at the same time knows to assign the correct keyword hierarchy. The only problem that arises is where a single keyword can have more than one hierarchy, but I'll come to this shortly.
Figure 4.26 You can add keywords at the time of import. In this example, I entered the relevant keywords into the Keywords field. Lightroom offers to auto-complete a keyword if it recognizes that the word you are typing might belong to the keyword list.
Figure 4.27 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"). In this example, I typed in "Bygdøy peninsula > Norway > Europe > Places" to add the keyword bygdøy peninsula with the desired hierarchy.
Figure 4.28 You can also add keywords in advance. In this example, I right-clicked 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 4.29 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 displays all the keywords associated with a specific image or collection of images. When you select an image in the Library module, you will see any keywords associated with the photo listed in this panel, each 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 space indicated in the Keywording panel, and Lightroom will attempt to auto-complete the entries as you type. If multiple images are 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 4.30). 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 key. This ensures that all the selected images are now assigned with that keyword. If you want to change a particular keyword, you can always highlight it and type in a new word or press to remove it completely from the selection.
Figure 4.30 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 4.32 and 4.33. The keywords marked with an asterisk indicate that these keywords apply to a sub-selection of images only. You can also add new keywords by typing them into the section that's highlighted above.
You can apply keywords to photos in the catalog in a couple of ways. Figure 4.32 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 4.33, I selected the same group of images and dragged the selection to the keyword New York.
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 4.70 on page 187), 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, displaying, in this case, the full keyword path, such as Salisbury > Wiltshire > UK > Europe > Places, or Salisbury > Maryland > USA > Places, assuming both are logged as keywords. (See page 156 for more about how Lightroom handles implied keywords.)
Most of the time, auto-completion is a useful thing to have active. However, there are times when it can become a pain. For example, when I do a model casting and enter the names of models in the Caption field of the Metadata panel in the Library module, I don't find auto-completion particularly helpful. What is useful, though, with the Mac version is the ability to spell-check in Lightroom. The Edit Spelling submenu in the Library module contains options to Show Spelling and Grammar, Check Spelling and Check Spelling as You Type (see Figure 4.31).
Figure 4.31 The Edit Spelling submenu has options for checking spelling in Lightroom, including checking spelling as you type. This can help you avoid mistakes as you add new metadata. Note: This is available in the Mac version only.
Figure 4.32 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 4.33 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.
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 deletes the keyword from the Keyword List hierarchy list and also removes it from any photos that have had that keyword assigned to them. Of course, if you remove a keyword via the Keyword List panel, you will only be deleting it from the Lightroom database. If the keyword metadata has already been saved to the file's XMP space, you may need to force-save the metadata change (the keyword deletion) back to the file's XMP space by choosing Metadata Save Metadata to Files. By the same token, if keywords are removed using an external program, those keywords won't appear removed when you view the photo in Lightroom until you explicitly read the revised metadata back from the image.
As photos are removed from the catalog, keywords that were formerly associated with those pictures will consequently become unused. You can remove these 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 you don't remove these keywords by accident, a warning dialog will appear asking you to confirm this action.
It is important to plan not only your keyword list but also the keyword hierarchy by using a controlled vocabulary of keywords. 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: Town/City > State > Country > Places. 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 mammals, invertebrate, and ANIMALS, you would type elephants > mammals > invertebrate > ANIMALS. When you press , you will see the elephants keyword appear as a new subset keyword in the Keyword List panel. There are a few things to point out here. One is that you always enter new keywords using the reverse path directory as shown here and in the previous examples. Second, once you have established a basic hierarchy, there is no need to type a complete path each time. In other words, once you have created the above path hierarchy, to add cat as a keyword you don't have to type cat > mammals > invertebrate > ANIMALS. All you'll need to type is cat > mammals. Lightroom knows how to complete the remaining hierarchy.
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 keywording 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 best to establish and work with a controlled vocabulary. These ensure that the keyword terms you use to describe your 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 has 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 4.34 shows how I have created keyword categories for Clothes stylists, Hair stylists, 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 someone's name. If Lightroom recognizes this as a possible match to one of the existing keywords in the Lightroom keyword database, Lightroom auto-completes 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.
Figure 4.34 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.
Because the Keyword List panel can grow to contain many thousands of keywords, you can make navigation simpler by typing the keyword you are looking for in the Filter Keywords section at the top of the panel. Even if you type just the first few letters or the keyword or keywords you are looking for, this can help narrow the selection of keywords to choose from. You can use this feature to check if a keyword exists in more than one place and edit the Keyword List accordingly.
You can also use the Keyword List panel to filter the photos that appear in the content area. As you roll the mouse over a particular keyword, you'll see an arrow appear next to the keyword count number. When you click on the arrow, this displays all the photos in the Lightroom catalog that contain this keyword, regardless of whatever photo filter view you have active.
Importing and exporting keyword hierarchies
You can create your own keyword hierarchy from scratch or import one that has already been created (such as the example shown in Figure 4.35). To import keywords into Lightroom, you'll need to do so from a tab-delimited keyword file.
Figure 4.35 This shows an imported "D-65" keyword list, that was 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' ControlledVocabulary.com 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 Metadata Export Keywords. (A keywords export is also saved as a text file using a tab-delimited format.)
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 will automatically include the implicit keywords Places, Europe, and Norway. I don't have to type in Bygdøy peninsula > Norway > 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 auto-complete the rest. If the Keyword Tags menu is set to display Enter Keywords (Figure 4.36), 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 & Containing Keywords or Will Export (Figure 4.37), 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 two modes.
Figure 4.36 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 4.37 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 full keyword path hierarchy appear in the Keywording dialog. To give you an example of why this is the case, take a look at Figure 4.38, in which you see the keyword Camilla repeated twice. This is because I can add the keyword Camilla in two separate contexts. On one level, Camilla is a makeup artist I work with, but she's also my wife (so I had better include her in the people I know!). This is why, when you type certain keywords, you'll sometimes see more than one keyword path suggestion. It also explains why, when you click to OK the choice, you may see a full keyword path directory in the Keywording panel rather than the single keyword (as in the Figure 4.38 example).
Figure 4.38 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.
If you expand the Keyword Suggestions section, this reveals a grid of suggested keywords. You can click any of the keywords displayed here to add it to the selected photo or photos. Lightroom adapts 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 suggested keywords are also prioritized based on how soon before or after the current photograph they were taken. 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 other keywords assigned to them.
Figure 4.39 Here is an example of Keyword Suggestions 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 Keywording panel can also be used to display sets of keywords. When keywording certain types of photo projects it can save you a lot of time to have commonly used keywords quickly accessible. Keyword sets offer a quick method for adding commonly used keywords to selected images. To access a Keyword Set, click the disclosure triangle (circled in Figure 4.40) to reveal the Set section of the Keywording panel. This will normally display the Recent Keywords keyword set, 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 4.40, the Outdoor Photography Keyword Set had been selected, with suitable, outdoor keyword offerings such as Landscape and Wildlife. You can also use the key plus a number as a shortcut for assigning Keyword Set keywords. If you hold down the key, the number shortcuts will appear next to each keyword. So, for example, if I wanted to assign a Flowers & Plants keyword, I would use the –9 shortcut (see also Figure 4.41).
Figure 4.40 The Keywording panel shown here displays the Outdoor Photography keyword set. You can hold down the key to preview the keyboard shortcut numbers and use the key plus numbers shown here to quickly assign a Keyword Set keyword.
Figure 4.41 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 your photos.
Creating your own custom keyword sets
If you have a lot of photos to edit from a specific trip, or if you regularly photograph certain types of events, you will most likely find it useful to create your own keyword sets for these types of shoots. To do so, follow these instructions:
- To create a custom keyword set, go to the Keyword Set section of the Keywording panel and select Edit Set. This opens 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.
- 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 the new custom keyword set. You can hold down the key to preview the keyboard shortcuts and use the key plus a number to quickly assign any of these keywords to selected photos.
The Painter tool
The Painter tool (also referred to as the spray can) is located in the Library module toolbar. It can be activated by clicking the tool, which floats it from its docked position in the Toolbar. You can also access the Painter tool by going to the Metadata menu and choosing Enable Painting, or use the (Mac) or (PC) shortcut. You can then select which type of settings you want to apply with the Painter tool (see Figure 4.43).
The Painter tool is ideal for those times when 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 with the Painter tool on a photo you wish to edit, or you can click and drag over a number of photos at once. But that's not all: You can also use the Painter tool to paint using labels, flags, ratings, metadata, develop settings, rotation, or to set the target collection. It all depends on which mode you have selected in the accompanying Paint menu, and the Painter tool appearance varies according to which mode you have selected (see Figure 4.42 for examples of all the different cursor styles). 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. With previous versions of the Lightroom Painter tool, some things (such as applying labels or ratings) had a toggle action where clicking or dragging over a thumbnail would either apply or remove data. Basically, it was all too easy to apply data and then undo it in a couple of keystrokes. With Lightroom 3, the toggle behavior has been removed and you now need to hold down the key as you click in order to switch to eraser mode (), 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 degrees" or "apply this set combination of keywords," the Painter tool does have its uses, but it can often be much easier to just select the photos first and then apply a setting to all the photos in one step.
Figure 4.42 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 4.43 With some of the Painter tool options, such as Rotation, you will have menu options to choose from.
- To work with the Painter tool, go to the Library module toolbar and click the tool icon to activate it (or use the [Mac] or [PC] shortcut). The Painter tool will undock itself from the Toolbar and replace the normal pointer cursor with the Painter tool icon as you move it within the Grid view area.
- You can enter the keyword or keywords you wish to apply in the empty field in the toolbar. (Lightroom again auto-completes the text by referencing previous or recently used keywords in the database.) Alternatively, you can choose Metadata Set Keyword Shortcut, or use (Mac) or (PC) to open the Set Keyword Shortcut dialog and enter the keyword or combination of keywords in the dialog shown here.
- 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 (Mac) or (PC) shortcut.
- As was pointed out in the main text, you can use the Painter tool to apply things other 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, on the other hand, you were to select Rotation, the menu would change to let you select a specific rotation or allow you to choose a painter setting that would 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 another choice of settings to use.