Filtering for an Absent Keyword


Today’s Question: Suppose you have a folder named “tigers” and in this folder you have identified some of the images as “mom”, “dad”, “son”.  But you also have some that were simply tagged “tigers” without further classifying and now you want to go back to put them in mom, dad, or son. Is there any way to sort the tigers folder for the images that are NOT mom, dad, son? Otherwise, you have to go back through the entire folder watching the keyword list and stop when you don’t see mom, dad, or son, which would be very tedious.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this case you could simply filter the images based on a text filter based on the “Don’t Contain” option for Keywords, entering “mom, dad, son” into the search field. If you want to further filter the images so you are only seeing those with the “tiger” keyword but without the “mom”, “dad”, or “son” keywords, you can use the Keyword option with the Metadata filter to specify that you want to see images that include “tiger” as a keyword.

More Detail: The filtering options within Lightroom are surprisingly sophisticated, though the many possibilities for locating images aren’t necessarily all that obvious. In this case a combination of filtering by a keyword and also filtering by the absence of several keywords will provide the desired solution.

In the Library module you can display the Library Filter bar (if it isn’t already displayed) by choosing View > Show Filter Bar from the menu or by pressing the backslash key (\) on the keyboard. Be sure you have navigated to the folder that contains the images you want to filter, and then set your filter criteria.

To filter the images to show those that do not have certain keywords added, you can use the “Don’t Contain” option. Click the Text header to bring up the text filter fields, and set the first popup to “Keywords” so you can filter specifically by the Keywords field in metadata. Then choose “Don’t Contain” from the second popup, so you can filter based on an absence of specific keywords. Then enter the keywords that are absent from the images you’re looking for, separating each by a comma. In the example from today’s question you could enter “mom, dad, son”.

You can then choose the Metadata option to filter based on images that do contain a specific keyword, such as “tiger” in this example. Click the header for the right-most column in the Metadata section, and choose “Keyword” from the popup menu. That column will then display a list of all available keywords, so you can choose one or more keywords that you want to filter based on those keywords being included in metadata for the image. In this example you could choose “tiger” from that list.

In this way you will be filtering the images so that only those containing one or more keywords (just “tiger” in this case) and that don’t contain any of another set of keywords (“mom”, “dad”, and “son” in this case). That, in turn, will enable you to review the images, perhaps in this example enabling you to add the “mom”, “dad”, “son” keywords that hadn’t yet been added for all images.

Recover Deleted Duplicate


Today’s Question: I made a duplicate copy of an image in Lightroom and tried to add it to a new folder in Lightroom. It transferred both images so I “removed” the duplicate. Unfortunately it also removed the original. Is there an easy way to find it and put it back in Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you removed the image from the catalog without deleting it, you can simply synchronize the folder to recover the image. If you deleted the image itself, the only possible solution is to recover the image file from the Trash/Recycle Bin in your operating system.

More Detail: When you create a copy of an image within Lightroom, you are actually creating a “virtual copy”. This is essentially just a second set of adjustments so you can create two different interpretations of a photo in the Develop module. The source file is not duplicated on your hard drive, so you still only have a single copy of the source image.

If you move an image from one folder to another, any virtual copies associated with that image will also appear to be moved to that destination folder. This is because the virtual copy isn’t an actual file, but rather just a set of additional adjustments within Lightroom.

This can certainly lead to some confusion when it comes to removing a photo from your catalog. If you select the option to remove a virtual copy (by right-clicking on the virtual copy and choosing the “Remove Photo” command), you will simply be asked to confirm that you want to remove that virtual copy, since doing so won’t cause the source image to be deleted.

If you choose the “Remove Photo” command after right-clicking on the source image (rather than the virtual copy) then you’ll have a couple of options. You can remove the image from your Lightroom catalog without deleting the source file, or you can delete the source file from your hard drive. With either option, by removing the source image the virtual copy will be removed as well. Note that choosing the option to delete the source file will actually move that file to the Trash or Recycle Bin for your operating system, so you can still recover the file from that location as long as you haven’t “emptied” that Trash/Recycle Bin.

If you used the “Remove” option, then you can bring the source image back into your catalog by synchronizing the applicable folder. Simply right-click on the folder in question and choose “Synchronize Folder” from the popup menu. In the Synchronize Folder dialog be sure the “Import new photos” checkbox is turned on, and click the Synchronize button to add the images that had been removed back into your catalog.

If you deleted the source image, you’ll need to first recover the files from your Trash or Recycle Bin, and then use the “Synchronize Folder” command to bring those images back into your Lightroom catalog.

“Open Copy” for RAW


Today’s Question: From Adobe Bridge, I open a RAW file and then in Camera Raw, I make various adjustments, then, when finished, I hold down the Option Key (on my Mac) and this opens a copy in Photoshop, leaving the original RAW file, so far as I can tell, untouched. Is this a preferred non-destructive workflow?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Actually, processing a RAW capture with Adobe Camera Raw is always non-destructive, by virtue of not altering the original RAW data file. In other words, the “Open Copy” command in Camera Raw is not necessary for RAW captures.

More Detail: The “Open Copy” option in Adobe Camera Raw is not an option that I find especially helpful. In the context of a RAW capture it really doesn’t have a meaningful effect. For TIFF or JPEG images processed with Camera Raw it doesn’t create an actual duplicate image file, but rather simply “forces” the Save As (rather than Save) command to be initiated even if you choose File > Save from the menu.

Put simply, any photo optimization work that is performed on a RAW capture is going to be non-destructive to that RAW capture, simply because such software can’t save any adjustments back to the original RAW data. Metadata updates can certainly be applied, but adjustments won’t alter the original RAW capture data.

That said, photographers who use Camera Raw to process TIFF or JPEG images might find the Open Copy command helpful. Using this option will help ensure you don’t accidentally use the Save command to replace the original version of the TIFF or JPEG image with your adjustments.

You can access the Open Copy command by holding the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh, which will cause the Open button to change to an Open Copy button. Clicking that button (with the Alt/Option key held down) will then open the image, though without actually creating a new image file. Instead, you’ll be prompted with the Save As command when you save the image, even if you choose the Save command rather than Save As from the File menu.

Slow Previews in Lightroom


Today’s Question: I have generated 1:1 previews for my photos in Lightroom, but I often still see the “loading” message when I select an image. Shouldn’t the 1:1 previews make the previews load instantly?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Just because you have loaded 1:1 previews for your photos does not mean those previews will load instantly. There are a variety of factors that can impact the speed at which previews (of any resolution) can be loaded.

More Detail: The 1:1 preview option in Lightroom enables you to have a full-resolution preview for your images in the Library module. These previews will be generated automatically whenever you zoom in on an image for which there isn’t already a 1:1 preview. If you have already generated 1:1 previews for your photos, those previews can be loaded from the previews file more quickly than a new preview can be generated.

In addition, however, there are some other issues that can impact the overall speed at which previews can be loaded.

In the context of 1:1 previews, it is important to keep in mind that by default Lightroom will discard the 1:1 previews for your images if they have not been accessed in the last thirty days. As a result, it is possible you are actually experiencing slower performance for some images because the previews have been discarded and therefore need to be re-built. If this is the issue, keeping the 1:1 previews for a longer duration can help. You can select Edit > Catalog Settings on Windows or Lightroom > Catalog Settings on Macintosh to bring up the Catalog Settings dialog. On the File Handling tab you can choose when the 1:1 previews should be discarded, including an option for “Never”.

Next, I would make sure that your Lightroom catalog (and therefore all of the preview files) are located on the fastest hard drive available. In general that means storing the catalog on an internal hard drive on your computer, but the point is that overall hard drive performance affects how quickly previews can load.

You can also improve overall performance in Lightroom by optimizing the catalog periodically. This is an option available when backing up your catalog. If you’re not using the built-in feature in Lightroom to backup your catalog (and therefore not using the catalog optimization feature available as part of the backup) I recommend “manually” optimizing periodically by choosing File > Optimize Catalog from the menu.

Finally, in some cases you may actually find it helpful to discard the previews altogether and have Lightroom generate them again for you. I have had a couple of occasions where overall performance loading images in Lightroom got to be quite slow, and discarding all previews provided a significant benefit.

To do so, you will first want to make sure that Lightroom is closed. Then go to the folder that contains your catalog and delete the file that has the same name as your actual catalog (lrcat) file, but with the word “Previews” appended to the filename and with a filename extension of “lrdata”.

When you then launch Lightroom again, you can re-generate previews for all photos. To do so you can go to the All Photographs collection in the Catalog section of the left panel of the Library module and then choose Edit > Select All from the menu. Then go to the Library menu on the menu bar and choose Previews > Build 1:1 Previews (or “Build Standard-Sized Previews” if you don’t need the full-resolution previews). This will cause Lightroom to build previews for all images, which can take considerable time but can then help ensure improved browsing performance.

Text on Photos in Lightroom


Today’s Question: Question on Lightroom: Can I “type in” a title, name, or date on a picture in Lightroom? And then print out the picture with the text?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While you can’t add text directly onto a photo in Lightroom in quite the same way that you can in Photoshop, you can add text when printing a photo in the Print module, or sharing with the other modules.

More Detail: There are various ways you can add text to an image you are sharing from within Lightroom. You can add text to an existing field in metadata, for example, and then add text to the image using the Photo Info option in the Page section of the right panel in the Print module. After turning on the “Photo Info” checkbox you can choose the applicable metadata field you’d like to add text based on, using the popup to the right of the Photo Info checkbox.

If you’d like a little more flexibility for the text that you add to the photo, you can use the Identity Plate option. Start by turning on the “Identity Plate” checkbox in the Page section of the right panel in the Print module. Then click on the identity plate preview below this checkbox, and choose “Edit” from the popup that appears.

This will bring up the Identity Plate Editor dialog, where you can type the text you’d like to include on the image, and then adjust the font settings for the text. After clicking OK to confirm the changes to the text, you can also drag the text around on the image in order to adjust the specific position of the text.

To be sure, Lightroom does not provide anywhere near the degree of flexibility that Photoshop provides. In Photoshop you can add multiple text layers with a variety of effects, which enables you to create text on a photo in virtually any way you would like. That said, it is possible to add relatively simple text elements to a photo you’d like to share from Lightroom.

Iconic Panels


Today’s Question: I have been looking for some information about the slim panel that resides directly left of the right hand side panels in Photoshop. I have been able to drag and drop floating panels into this, which I had initially dragged from the right side of the screen. They then revert back from full panel to icon status. It seems to me there is more to this slim panel than just a place to tuck away a panel until it is needed again.

Tim’s Quick Answer: What you’re referring to is an “iconic” panel in Photoshop. This is a panel that can collapse to a small button when you aren’t actively using the panel. If you prefer to have two (or more) columns of larger panels, you can simply expand the iconic panel by clicking the double chevron icon (<<) at the top of the iconic panel.

More Detail: The default workspace in Photoshop includes a group of iconic panels to the left of a group of normal panels. What that basically translates into is a set of “expanded” versus “collapsed” panels. The benefit of an iconic panel is that it takes up very little space until you actually need to use it, and when you do need to use it you can simply click the iconic button to expand the panel and make normal use of it.

If you only have a single “column” of panels along the right side of the Photoshop interface, you can drag another column to be docked to the left of those panels by dropping the panel to the left edge of the panels that are already docked. In most cases that will result in an iconic panel docked to the left of the expanded panels.

You can expand the iconic panels by clicking the double chevron icon (<<) at the top of the iconic panels. This will create two columns of expanded panels. If you then want to collapse that column of panels to iconic panels, you can click the double chevron icon that will now be pointing to the right (>>).

In fact, if you prefer to work with only iconic panels, even the expanded panels that are docked on the right side of the Photoshop interface by default can be collapsed with the same double-chevron button at the top of the set of docked panels.

You can learn a bit more about defining your own custom workspace in Lesson 3 of Chapter 3 (“Adjusting Your Workspace”) of the “Understanding and Configuring Photoshop CC” course, which is available as part the “Photoshop for Photographers” bundle of courses available through GreyLearning. If you’re not already a GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle subscriber, you can sign up for just the “Photoshop for Photographers” bundle (with a discount) by following this link:

Depth of Field Calculator


Today’s Question: I believe that in the past you’ve mentioned that you use an iPhone app to determine depth of field on the go. If I’m correct would you please remind me what that app is?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are many apps available, and I’ve never found one that I’m completely happy with, but the one I currently find most helpful is called “SetMyCamera – Depth of Field Calculator” by Bluestone Pond.

More Detail: There are many apps available for various smartphones that enable you to calculate depth of field. Some are free and many are available for several dollars, and there are varying degrees of quality and usability. Some feature many in-app advertisements, and others provide a very rudimentary interface. But in general I’ve found most of them to be reasonably accurate.

It is very helpful to choose an app that enables you to choose the type of camera you’re using, so that the sensor size and circle of confusion values can be estimated automatically for you. That way you only need to enter the distance to the subject, the lens focal length, and the lens aperture to determine the overall depth of field distances.

In most cases you will be presented with the near versus far limits of the range of depth of field, as well as the total size of the area of acceptable focus for the depth of field. Often the apps will also indicate the hyperfocal distance for the current setup, which can be helpful in many cases.

I also recommend making sure that any app you’re considering includes an actual depth of field calculator, rather than a set of tables you can use to look up specific values.

And if anyone knows of an excellent app that they find to be fast and easy to use for calculating depth of field details, please let me know.

Quick Mask Failure


Today’s Question: I seem to have lost my ability to paint a selection in Quick Mask mode [in Photoshop]. I switch to Quick Mask mode and select the Brush tool, but when I attempt to paint nothing happens. This has worked successfully in the past.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You will most likely find your answer on the Options bar, with the configuration settings for the Brush tool. In particular, confirm the Mode popup is set to “Normal” and than the Opacity setting is at 100%.

More Detail: You can use Quick Mask mode in Photoshop to create or modify a selection using the painting tools (such as the Brush tool) rather than the selection tools. In a very general sense this enables you to paint to define the overall shape of a selection rather than tracing along the edge of a selection. In addition, Quick Mask mode enables you to adjust the brush Hardness setting as you’re working, so you can apply a variable degree of feathering for your selection. You can also adjust the Opacity setting if you need to have some areas partially (rather than fully) selected.

When you are in Quick Mask mode and using the Brush tool, for example, all of the settings that impact the behavior of the Brush tool will impact your results in Quick Mask mode. The result, however, may be significantly different, since in Quick Mask mode you are effectively painting with only black and white (and possibly shades of gray). This can result in blending interactions that have a significantly different impact than if you were painting on a full-color image layer.

The two settings that are most likely to impact your use of the Brush tool with Quick Mask mode are the Mode popup (for the blending mode) and the Opacity setting. In general you will want to have the Mode set to “Normal” and the Opacity set to 100%. But the key is to remember that when you’re using the Quick Mask mode to create or modify a selection, the settings for the specific tool you’re using will have an impact on the results you achieve within Quick Mask mode.

For those who have signed up for the “Photoshop for Photographers” bundle or the “GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle”, you can view a video lesson about using Quick Mask mode in the “Mastering Selections in Photoshop CC” video course on the GreyLearning website ( The specific lesson is Chapter 5, Lessons 6, and is called “Using Quick Mask Mode”.

Preserve Original Filename


Today’s Question: I have avoided using the renaming function in Lightroom when downloading. When I download using Adobe Bridge, I have the option to rename and preserve the current filename in metadata.  This is valuable to me should I ever elect to go back to batch rename a series of photos with a new custom name.  I see no similar option to do in Lightroom during download. Is there a way?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom preserves the original filename in metadata automatically when you rename after importing, but not if you rename during the import. Therefore, the simple solution here would be to wait until after importing to rename your images in Lightroom.

More Detail: When you rename photos in Lightroom, the original filename is preserved automatically, and will be presented with the “Original Name” field in the Metadata section of the right panel in the Library module. This feature only applies if you rename after your photos are already imported into your Lightroom catalog. If you rename during import (or before importing) the original filename will not be displayed within Lightroom. So even if you use the feature in Adobe Bridge to preserve the original filename in metadata, that original filename won’t be displayed in Lightroom.

So, by renaming within Lightroom, but making sure to perform that renaming after you have already imported your photos into Lightroom, you’ll always be able to access the original filename within your Lightroom catalog.

Note, by the way, that if you use Adobe Bridge to rename photos and turn on the “Preserve current filename in XMP Metadata” checkbox, that filename can be found in the Raw Filename field of the Camera Raw section of the Metadata panel, which can be revealed by choosing Window > Metadata Panel from the menu.

I generally recommend making full use of the Import feature in Lightroom, which includes using Lightroom to download from your memory cards rather than using other software. Part of my reason for this recommendation is the concern that downloading images separate from the process of importing into Lightroom adds a certain degree of complexity to your workflow. I also feel that it creates a risk that you may forget to import into Lightroom some of the photos you downloaded with other software. However, as noted above, if you want to preserve the original filename for your photos, you should avoid using the file renaming feature when importing photos into Lightroom.

Solo Mode


Today’s Question: Is there a way to only view one section of adjustments at a time in the Develop module in Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can have all sections of a panel in Lightroom hidden except one by enabling Solo Mode. You can also hide panels altogether if there are any that you don’t use.

More Detail: You can enable Solo Mode for one or more panels in Lightroom by right-clicking on an empty area of the panel (such as the blank space next to the section titles) and choosing Solo Mode from the popup menu. The setting affects the specific panel (left or right) in the current module, so you can pick and choose which panels you actually want to enable Solo Mode for.

When Solo Mode is enabled, only one panel at a time will be expanded. When you click on the header of a panel to expand it, all other panels will be collapsed. This enables you to focus your attention on the controls within only a single section at a time, which many photographers prefer.

In addition, if you find any sections on a given panel that you don’t use (or rarely use) you can hide that section. To do so, right-click on an empty area of the panel that contains the section you want to hide. Then click the name of the section you want to hide on the popup menu.

The popup menu will show a checkmark next to all of the panel sections that are enabled, so you see at a glance which sections (if any) have been hidden from view. And of course you can use this same menu to reveal a panel section that had previously been hidden.