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Sometimes a group of images really belong together. And in many cases, when you have a group of images that fit together in some way, you really don't need to be able to see all of them at any given time. In those situations, you can use an image stack to help keep your images organized and to help remove a little bit of clutter in the process. Some very obvious examples of when you might use image stacks are when you have multiple images that are part of a composite panorama, for example, or multiple images that are part of a composite depth of field or a high dynamic range image. However, there are many other examples of situations where image stacks can be helpful.
Here I have a series of images of horses running on the beach in late afternoon light. With this type of dynamic subject, obviously you might have a lot of misses mixed in with the good images. But even when you start filtering out those images and you're happy with a group of them, you might find that you still have a lot of sort of duplicates of images that were not exactly identical or very similar. In this case, for example, I probably would only use one or maybe two of these images in any real project. The rest are sort of extra. In theory, I could get rid of them, but I think I'd like to keep them together and keep them all organized within Lightroom.
A stack provides a great solution for this type of situation. I'll go ahead and click on the first image in this series and then I'll hold the Shift key and click on the last image. That will select all of the images within that range. I could also add additional images to the group if need be. If I hold the Ctrl key on windows or the Cmd key on Macintosh, I can then click on additional images to add them to the selection or click again to turn them off. And I can do this in between for images that are within the mix I had already selected or else ware throughout the range of images, in this case, on the film strip. Once you have the images selected that you'd like to include in a stack, you can right-click on any one of those images, and then, choose Stacking from the popup menu.
You can then Choose Group Into Stack from the submenu, and all of the images that you had selected will be grouped into a single stack. They'll effectively appear as a single image. But a single image, with an indication, at least if you've turned on the option to show the stack numbers, of that fact, that there is a stack here and how many images are in that stack. Note, by the way, that in addition to right-clicking on the image in order to access the stacking feature, you can also choose photo stacking from the menu. Of course, at times, you might want to see the individual images that are contained in a stack.
It's possible to right-click on the image and then choose Stacking. And then, for example choose Expand Stack in order to expand the stack. But if you have the stack indicator visible on the film strip you can also click on that indicator. That will expand all of the images in the stack, so that you can see them all and then you can click once again to collapse the stack. It's also possible to change which image represents the stack, in other words the top most image in that stack. Here for example the image that's on top just happens to be the first image I selected and I don't consider that to be the best image in this stack.
I happen to like this last image. So, if I right-click on that image and then choose Stacking, I can choose the option to Move To Top Of Stack. And that means, that will be the image that represents the stack. So, I'll go ahead and collapse that stack. And if I choose the stack, you'll see that that image I identified as my favorite, the topmost image, is the one that appears for the stack. So, as you can see, with a stack, we're able to collapse the appearance of all those images into a single image, which can help remove clutter and keep things a little bit more organized. Of course, at any time, if you decide that you don't want those images included in a stack, you can simply right-click and then choose Stacking and unstack those images.
In addition to unstacking all of the images, you can remove individual images from the stack. So, let's say, for example, that we only want the brown horses included in the stack. And this black horse I'd like to remove from the stack, I can right-click on that image and then choose Stacking > Remove From Stack. So, now I have one outlier image and then the nine images included as a stack. And this is just illustrating some of the many possibilities of working with stacks. As you continue to explore the use of stacks to help consolidate a group of images, I'm sure you'll find many other situations where they can prove helpful in your workflow.
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