Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Assigning star ratings to photos, part of Lightroom 5: 01 Organizing Your Photos.
One of the options for identifying favorite photos in Lightroom that seems to be most popular among photographers, is the use of star ratings. Star ratings have the advantage of being relatively self explanatory. A one star rating would be assigned to an image that is perhaps not your best image, and a five star rating that would be assigned to an image that is clearly one of your very best. I recommend, however, that you consider a slight variation on this approach when assigning star ratings. Let's take a look at the basic concept of applying star ratings first.
Generally speaking, if you're going to use star ratings for identifying your favorite images, I recommend that you evaluate all of your images, and so, in this case, I'm browsing one folder full of images. And I would then want to start with my very first image. So I'll scroll to the far left on the film strip, for example, and click on the thumbnail for my first photo. There are a variety of ways you can assign star ratings to an image. With an image selected, you can go to the Photo menu and then choose Set Rating, followed by None, one star, two stars, three stars, and so on.
All the way up to five stars. You can also decrease the rating by one star, or increase the rating by one star for the current image. And, of course, we have keyboard shortcuts available as well. You can press 0 to remove the star rating, 1 for one star, 2 for two stars and so on. All the way up to five stars. And you can use the left square bracket and right square bracket keys to decrease or increase the rating. The same options are available by right-clicking on the image and then choosing Set Rating followed by the desired option.
And, if you have the star rating option available on the toolbar, you can simply click the number of stars for the rating you'd like to assign. To add the star rating option to the toolbar, simply click the pop-up at the far right of the toolbar. And then chose Rating from the pop-up menu. In most cases though, I'll work with keyboard shortcuts and so I'll start off by selecting my first image, assigning a star rating with the number on the keyboard and then using the left and right arrow keys as needed to navigate among the images. I mentioned previously that most photographers seem to think of a one star rating as being the rating for a bad image.
But I recommend taking a slightly different approach, because after all, if an image is really bad, is it worth assigning a star rating to that image, versus just leaving it alone? So instead, when I'm evaluating my images, I'll use a one star rating to indicate an image that I think I might use for some purpose. In other words, a reasonably good image that I'd like to keep. In fact, the first time I evaluate my images, I'll only utilize a one star rating. So, I'll assign one star, in this case by pressing the number 1 on the keyboard, for an image that I'd like to keep or that I think I might work with.
I'll then press the right arrow button on the keyboard to move to the next image and decide whether or not I'm going to assign a star rating to that image. In this case, I like this image so I'll press 1 to assign a one star rating, but this image I don't really care for and so I'll just skip it without assigning a star rating. I'll continue in this way, assigning a one star rating to any image that I think I'd like to keep or put to use for some purpose. Once I've gone through all of my images in this manner, then I'll let the images sit. In other words, I want to separate myself from the emotional response of capturing these photos.
When I initially captured this image, for example, of a whale's tail, I was every excited that a whale was so close to the boat. And yet, in retrospect I don't really think that the image is all that great. At the time I felt like it was a wonderful image because I had just had this incredible experience. By taking this approach of assigning a one star rating to images that you like and leaving no rating for images that you don't necessarily care for, you have the opportunity then to separate out the emotional element of reviewing the photos.
A little bit later you can come back and review the images again. So I'll go back to the first image for example, and now I might upgrade the rating from a one star rating up to perhaps a two or three star rating. In other words, if I really like an image it might get as high as a three star rating. I'll save the four and five star rating options for later in my work flow, after I've had a chance to review the image, perhaps to apply some adjustments to the image, and maybe even after I've shared the images with others and gotten some feedback.
So, after waiting a while and letting the emotion of the experience subside a little bit, I can go back through my images and any of the one star images, I might upgrade to a two or three star rating. For example, this image I think is kind of nice, so maybe I'll give it a two star rating. And this image I like as well. I'll upgrade that to a two star rating. And this image is kind of nice. Maybe I will even give this one a three star rating. The point is that I'm taking a measured approach to assigning those star ratings to my images. Working with one star initially, then possibly upgrading some of these images to a two or three star rating, and saving the four and five star ratings for later in my work flow, after I've had a chance to work with the image a little bit more.
The underlying point is that while star ratings are relatively straightforward, you do have some flexibility in terms of how you put them to use. And I encourage you to give some thought to your use of star ratings if you're going to utilize them to for keeping your images organized.
This course was created by Tim Grey. We're honored to host this training in our library.
- Importing images
- Setting up Lightroom preferences and catalog settings
- Backing up your catalogs
- Reviewing images with the Grid and Loupe views
- Renaming photos
- Adding flags, star ratings, color labels, and keywords to images
- Mapping photos
- Working with image stacks
- Locating images