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In Photoshop Lightroom 3 Advanced Techniques, photographer Chris Orwig shows how to master the subtleties of Lightroom 3 and maximize its efficiency. The course begins with an in-depth exploration of Lightroom catalogs to keep track of photos, collections, keywords, stacks, and more. Along the way, Chris shows how to integrate Bridge and Photoshop in the Lightroom workflow and shares advanced techniques, including image editing with the adjustment brush, automating actions, using plug-ins and extensions, exporting to email or an FTP server, and more. Exercise files are included with the course.
The more you learn about Lightroom and the more you talk with people who use Lightroom, the more you'll discover that people use collections all the time. So what I want to do here is propose to you a collection workflow for organizing your photos, and also for whittling them down to the final keepers. So let's say, for example, that we went to Mexico and we captured these photos in a little town, and we want to use collections in order to organize these and also to find which images are our favorites, or which ones are the ones that we think are the best. Here's what I would typically do.
I would import the photos from a CompactFlash card to a folder, and then after those images are in a folder, I'd go down to Collections, and I'd create a structure for myself. The structure is going to have a number of different levels, as you'll see. First, I'm going to create a collection set. Now, this set is going to be called "Travel." I want to have a set which contains all of my travel photographs. Inside of that, I want it to have countries and then also specific locations. So here, I'll click on the plus icon, create another set inside of Travel-- I'm going to call this one "Mexico"-- and then click Create.
And then, I need one more inside of that. Create a collection set here. It's going to be called "Sayulita." Now, why all of this structure? What this structure does for me is it allows me to have a collection organizational structure that I can replicate, that I can use again and again. In other words, inside of this Travel folder, I could have all the different countries that I've traveled to-- Mexico, Canada, Spain, Thailand, whatever--and then inside of that I could have these subfolders which refer to a specific shoot or specific location.
Now, you don't have to have this level of nested sets, yet sometimes it can be helpful. And this is what I do in my own workflow. So here, we have Sayulita. Well, inside of Sayulita, what I would do next then is create just a regular collection. And I typically call this one r1 for round one. And I think of this as these are the images that I've gone through, and I think these are basically the decent photos--barring anything that's out of focus or the exposure is completely bad.
So these are the ones that I want to start thinking about. So I create this r1 here, and I'll go ahead and do that, and then I'll go into my Mexico folder up top, and I'll go through, and I'll add a star rating, which just gets these images out the gate. I'll press the E key to go to the Loupe View mode. This gets a one-star. This one not so much. This one's okay. One star. One star. And I'm just going to go through, and basically most of these images I think are going to get one star, except for perhaps a couple of them that I don't like very much. All right! So here we have it. A couple of images didn't make the cut, but for the most part, the one-star photos are the ones that I'm saying, "Hey, these are the ones that I at least want to make it to round one." Then what I would do is turn my filtering on.
There's a number of different ways to do this. One technique that you can use is to press the Backslash key. That will open up your library filter. Here we can go to Attribute and say, just show me the images that have this one-star rating. You'll also notice that we have the option down here above the filmstrip. Here it's showing me that my criteria is based on one star. Here's a great shortcut for you, too. You can turn this on and off by pressing Command on a Mac, Ctrl on Windows, and then the L key. Think Library Filter.
You can see I'm turning those filters, or that criteria, on and off. Well, now that I'm seeing just these one-star rated photos, I'll select all of them. You can do that on a Mac by pressing Command+A, on Windows by pressing Ctrl+A. Then what I would do is drag these to this r1 collection. All right! Next, I want to target this r1 collection, because I want to take a look at these photos, and I want to go through them. And I'm going to go through them a second time now, looking for the ones that stand out, looking for photos that I think are a little bit better than others.
Again, to the Loupe View mode. Press the E key to do that. And here what I'm going to do is just go through these images, and in this case I'm going to add perhaps a two-star rating. And again, you want to come up with a rating, a flag, or a label system that's consistent, that makes sense for you. And in this case I'm just going to use simple stars 1, 2, and then I'll go up from there. And I like those photos. Next, I'm going to click on two stars here and then press the G key to go back to that Grid View mode. So now what we have are just the images that have this two-star rating.
So I am whittling my images down. I'm getting closer to finding the actual keepers. What I would do next is select all of these, click on one, press Command+A on a Mac--Ctrl+A on Windows--then go to the plus icon, and here we'll create another collection. We'll call this one "r2," and I'll go ahead and name this "r2." Include these selected photos. I want this to be part of the Sayulita set, and then I'll hit Create here. So now what I have is all the images, again, that made it past the first cut.
Now here I have the second cut, and then I could keep going. Here I have 25, and they're already pretty good photos. But when I have a huge set of images-- let's say 500--what tends to happen is if I shoot 500 images, my r1 is probably going to be about 20% less than that, or so. Let's say I walk away with r1 has 400 images in it, then r2 might get down to 300 images, then r3, maybe I have 250, and I'm whittling these down and I'm doing this by way of collections.
The nice thing about this is that sometimes I'll change my mind. I may decide, you know what? I don't have enough vivid color in this set. I can go back to r1 and say, I really wish I'd pick some more vivid color images. Well, grab one of those and then drag it to that r2. In a sense, you're kind of promoting that image to that next level. Another great thing to do with these type of collections is that eventually as you get down to your final keepers--you find the images that you like best, what you probably want to do is create another Collection in order to print those, or to deliver them to a client.
So in cases like that, this is what I would do. I would select perhaps the images out of this set that I really want to print, that I really enjoy. So I'll go ahead and just choose a couple here. And again, I'm not trying to say these images are great; more I'm trying to show you the structure of working with collections. So if these were the files that I wanted to print, I'll click on the plus icon, and I would create a collection, and I will go ahead and call this one "print," and I will include these select photos and then click Create. So again, if we go down to our collections for a moment, we have this r1, we have r2, and then we also can have other criteria--say, a little collection for printing or a little collection for delivering images to a client or whatever it is.
The nice thing about this is that this gives me really easy access to the images that I think are best. At the same time, if ever I change my mind, I can always go back. For example, let's say that I get to r2, and I say, you know what? This particular image, it's okay, but it's not great. I don't want it here. Well, just press the Delete key. That will then remove that from this collection. Now, it didn't delete the file off a hard drive; it just deleted it from this collection, this grouping of these particular images.
So as you can see, you can use collections in some pretty powerful ways in regards to sorting your images and ultimately finding those keepers, finding the gems amongst the rubble. All right. Well, in closing, I hope that by walking through a bit of a workflow using collections will be helpful for you. And I want you to keep in mind that you want to create a naming convention and a structure for your own collections that works best for your own images and for the type of photography that you do.
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