A Graphics Bridge to the Past

By Mark

I started experimenting with combining graphical elements and photographs and am going to share a little of what I have learned/created.  As I planned out the next few blogs, I realized I needed to address an underlying issue first.  It is no secret that Roger and I are huge fans of Adobe Lightroom as a management tool for our photographs.  It was specifically designed to catalog, manage and help you find the photos you took.  Included with Photoshop, Adobe has long had an also-ran program called Bridge which was the subject of a lot of jokes.  “There is a reason it is free”, was a typical example.  However, as Adobe has moved into the cloud, they seem to have spent a lot of time rethinking and reengineering of the program.  It really does provide the “bridge” between all of the Creative Cloud programs and is as integrated with Photoshop, Illustrator and their other design tools as LR is with Photoshop for photography.  It handles the graphic files where LR doesn’t really deal well with those.

Long ago I had gotten a large collection of clip art/graphics files covering everything from A to Z.

Bridge Top Level Menu View

Bridge Top Level Menu View

They came on 19 CDs and aside from the fact that some of the graphics were in the old potentially harmful .wmf format, they had some good stuff.   I found a program called XnView which converted all of the .wmf images over to the modern standard .png as I imported them onto my computer.

Bridge provides a lot of options for displaying your image files.  Grid Views, both large and small; as details or reduced to a simplified listing

Large Grid View

Large Grid View

Simple List

Simple List

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Bridge has gotten much smarter, and here a few examples.  It now has the ability to share the keyword list you created in LR.  It also recognizes any embedded keywords already on your files.

The metadata tab provides a lot of detail on the technical specs of your file and can be edited as required.

Metadata

Metadata

Bridge also gives you a variety of filtering and search tools to help narrow down and find what you are looking for.  I don’t think they are as user friendly as LR, but I haven’t spent a lot time using them.

I confess, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to browse a large volume of graphic files and find the ones I wanted to work with.  Next time we will actually start doing that “artsy” stuff.

Prune the Trees

By Mark

It is year-end clean up time for the old photo library.  A great place to start is by examining your Lightroom Keywords.  Does the organizational structure still work for you?   How can you tell?  Hopefully, since you have built your key word structure and taken advantage of the ability to create a hierarchy, or nesting, I recommend starting by looking at the top level categories.

Top Level Keywords.PNG

Next, you should start expanding the groupings by clicking on the little triangles.   As an example, I have expanded my “Other” Grouping.  

Expanded Other.PNG

Ask the same questions.  If you decide that grouping no longer makes sense, you can just right click and rename the group, or drag and drop it to another location.   If you want to see all of the images in a particular category, just hover over it and then select the white arrow which appears on the right side of the panel.

BW Selection.PNG

Aha! I know I have more than 21 Black and White images, so this is a good indicator that I have not diligent in properly key wording them as I go. 

As you continue to open and expand the panels, look for keywords which only have 1 image in them.  Often times, you have mistakenly tagged it with different name somewhere else.   That too is easy to correct.  All you have to do is select the image(s) using the right side arrow, then find the correct keyword and just check the box which appears to the left.  

Delete a keyword.PNG

Once you have applied the right keyword, just go back to the
“Wrong” keyword and right click.  In the dialog box select “Delete” and it will erase that keyword from existence.  It is a scary power you have to wield.  Just work on it a little at a time and they you can finish up tagging all the pictures you missed in the first place. 

Rethinking My Keywording Approach

Blog readers will know that Roger and I read a lot of photography blogs and especially appreciate Scott Kelby’s work-http://scottkelby.com .  Each Wednesday, he invites a Guest Blogger in to provide their unique point of view.  Last week, Seth Resnick, a well-respected photographer and Lightroom advocate wrote a piece that really got me thinking—and that is always dangerous.  He talked about keywords and his particular workflow.  I highly recommend you read it in its entirety. http://scottkelby.com/2012/its-guest-blog-wednesday-featuring-seth-resnick/#more-28856.

Now adding keywords is something that we have strongly advocated and have written about on several occasions.  Describing your image so that you can find it is one of the most powerful features of Lightroom and the organization is entirely up to you. 

What blew my mind was the level Seth went to in his approach.  His quote “Most images that I prepare have about 50 keywords which really isn’t all that much when you consider the concept of hierarchies” just stunned me.  On average my images have between one and four keywords applied.

Seth has top level categories for thing I’d never even thought of such as “Point of View” and “Camera technique”.

Luckily there are several ways to edit your keyword lists.

The easiest way is to just work on the list in LR. If you want to add new subcategories, just select the parent category and right click to bring up the menu.  If you want to reorganize the listing, you can just drag the categories around.  For large scale efforts this can be a “drag”. Luckily, there are some common apps which help you visualize layered information.

You can quickly export the list from LR to a .txt file.  Then you can open it in Excel.  Excel offers you the chance to see the hierarchy and move things around.  When you are finished all you have to do is save the Excel file back as a .txt file and then reimport it to LR.  LR then updates your listing. 

Of course once you are done you have to go back and apply the keywords to all those images.  Hooray, winter is coming so there will be plenty of time.

More help directly from the LR community can be found at: http://lightroomsecrets.com/2009/04/building-keyword-lists-outside-of-lightroom/