Keyword Tags versus Keywords


Today’s Question: Are keywords and tags the same thing? I use Photoshop Elements along with Photoshop CS6 and skip Adobe Bridge entirely.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, the Keyword Tags in Adobe Photoshop Elements represent the same metadata field as Keywords shown in other applications. The Photoshop Elements Organizer simply uses different terminology for keywords.

More Detail: While Photoshop Elements may use different terminology for features such as keywording, the features related to metadata do match up with similar features found in other software applications. In other words, much like other software for managing photos, Photoshop Elements primarily makes use of standard metadata fields such as for keywords.

So, the Keyword Tags you can add in Photoshop Elements would ultimately appear in the Keywords field in metadata, which would then be visible to other applications. Note, however, that by default the Elements Organizer does not actually save metadata updates (including keywords) to the actual image files on your hard drive.

If you want to write metadata changes to the actual files on your hard drive, you need to select the images in the Organizer and then go to the menu and choose File > Save Metadata to Files. Oddly, for reasons I don’t understand, if you delete a keyword tag in the Elements Organizer and then write changes to the files on the hard drive, the deleted keyword tags will not be removed. In other words, this option enables you to write keywords to metadata for the files on your hard drive, but not remove those keywords.

Filtering Across All Photos


Today’s Question: I am struggling with what may seems like a simple problem but is driving me nuts. In the Library module in Lightroom Classic I am unable to show all pictures with a color label of purple unless I am in a collection or folder that only has purple labeled pictures. Hopefully, you can help me could help in my workflow.

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you want to filter your photos based on all images in your Lightroom Classic catalog you need to first choose “All Photos” in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. You can then specify the filter criteria you want to use to locate specific photos.

More Detail: When you apply a filter in Lightroom using the options on the Library Filter bar (View > Show Filter Bar), you will only be filtering based on the photos in the current folder or collection. So, if you choose to filter based on a color label, for example, only images with that color label within the current folder (or collection) will be displayed in the search results.

If you want to filter based on specific criteria for all photos being managed by Lightroom Classic, you can first select the “All Photographs” collection from the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. This will enable you to view all photos in your entire catalog, which means if you then apply filter criteria the results will be based on all photos in your catalog, not just those in the current folder or collection.

Folders Not Shown in Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: The Folders list in Lightroom Classic do not display some of the subfolders on my hard drive. How do I update those folders that are present on my hard drive so they are also present in Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Folders list in Adobe Lightroom Classic only displays folders that contain photos being managed by Lightroom. Therefore, to view those folders in Lightroom you would need to import the photos (if applicable) contained within those folders.

More Detail: While the folder structure shown on the Folders panel on the left panel in the Library module of Lightroom Classic will reflect the folder structure of the hard drive where those folders are actually located, there will be some differences based on how Lightroom manages and displays folders.

First, Lightroom will generally only show folders that contain photos you have imported into your Lightroom catalog. If you import photos from a folder representing a trip, that folder will appear in Lightroom. If that folder contains a subfolder that only includes documents that can’t be managed by Lightroom, the subfolder will not appear within Lightroom.

Similarly, if you have two folders on the same hard drive, and you have imported the photos from one into your Lightroom catalog without importing the photos from the other folder, you will only see the first folder on the Folders list in Lightroom.

So, if you are managing photos on a hard drive that contains more than just photos, you will never see the entire folder structure from your hard drive within Lightroom. If folders that contain photos on your hard drive are not showing up in your Lightroom catalog, you just need to import the contents of that folder into Lightroom.

Note that if you are importing photos that are already in the desired storage location, you should use the “Add” option (rather than “Copy” for example) when importing the photos into your catalog.

Cropping for Circular Fisheye


Today’s Question: I just bought a fisheye lens that makes true 180-degree circular images. Is there any way that Photoshop (or other software) allows or enables perfectly circular cropping? If not, how to accomplish this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, Photoshop and other photo-editing software does not enable you to crop to a circular image. Instead, you’ll want to use a layer mask to create a mask around the circular image created by the fisheye lens.

More Detail: A full circular fisheye lens is generally able to capture a full 180-degree hemispherical view, which would naturally translate into a circular image area. However, most cameras capture an image with a rectangular aspect ratio, which means the circular image you are intending to capture will actually be framed within a rectangular photo.

With this type of situation, the camera is capturing an image that extends beyond the actual image area projected by the camera. That means you are actually including the interior of the lens at the outer edges of the photo you’re capturing with a fisheye lens.

Naturally, in the final result, you really only want to include the circular image. But photo-editing software doesn’t enable you to crop to a non-rectangular shape, so you’ll need to improvise. I generally use Photoshop for this purpose, adding a Solid Color adjustment layer along with a layer mask so the selected color will only appear outside the circular image.

To get started, I generally use the Elliptical Marquee tool to create a selection that perfectly aligns with the circular border of the actual image area. Then invert that selection by choosing Select > Inverse from the menu, so everything except the circular image is selected.

With this selection created, you can then click the Add Adjustment Layer button (the half-black/half-white circle icon) at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose “Solid Color” from the popup menu. In the Color Picker dialog that appears, select the desired color. I would generally choose white if the image is going to be printed, or possibly black if the image will be shared online. Click OK to finalize the effect.

The result is a color surrounding the circle that defines the edge of the actual image area. You can always modify the color by double-clicking the thumbnail for adjustment layer (which will have a name of “Color Fill”) to bring up the Color Picker dialog. You can also modify the layer mask for that adjustment layer if needed.

You can see a sample fisheye photo that I’ve applied this type of color border effect to on my Instagram feed here:

Blue Hour Duration


Today’s Question: I have recently moved from Houston to northern Michigan. I noticed that the twilight time is increased here. My question regards the blue hour. Does it also increase (more than the hour before sunrise or after sunset)? Also, is the blue hour altered when it is overcast?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The duration of “blue hour” does indeed vary depending on your position on the globe, with the duration being longer near the poles and shorter near the equator.

More Detail: One of the first things to understand about blue hour is that it isn’t really considered to be a full hour in duration. The term is really just a shorthand reference to that period a bit after sunset or before sunrise when the sky is illuminated with blue light and the landscape is still relatively dark.

The actual duration of blue hour (which doesn’t really have a strict definition) depends upon the relative speed of the sunset (or sunrise). The closer you are to the poles, the longer blue hour will last. The closer you are to the equator, the shorter blue hour will be.

For example, a recent calculation for blue hour using one particular app shows that in New York City the duration is 39 minutes, while in Miami, Floria, blue hour will only last 32 minutes.

The priority for planning a given photo should obviously be the specific location and subject matter available, of course. But it is worth keeping in mind that when you are farther north or south from the equator, blue hour will last a bit longer. And when you are closer to the equator, blue hour will be of a shorter duration.

It is also worth noting that the duration of the sunrise or sunset will also be affected by your position, with the sunrise or sunset taking longer the farther you are from the equator.

As for overcast conditions, that is something of a mixed issue. Generally speaking, you’ll get the best blue hour effect when the sky is as clear as possible. That said, if the conditions are just right, partial overcast clouds can provide an interesting effect. Those clouds can potentially reflect some of the color of blue hour, but perhaps more interesting is that low clouds can reflect some of the color of the lights of the scene you are photographing, assuming there are lights available to illuminate the clouds.

Instagram Breaks Plugins


Today’s Question: Regarding the Lightroom plugin you mentioned [for posting photos directly to Instagram from a computer], they have a big notice on their site at the moment saying it does not currently function: “Service Note: Instagram has updated their protocol and currently plugin does not work. We are investigating the issue and the plugin will be updated when a fix is available”.

Tim’s Quick Answer: I have confirmed that the LR/Instagram plugin ( that I recommended recently is no longer working. This is, unfortunately, a somewhat common issue with platforms such as Instagram.

More Detail: As I mentioned in a previous answer about posting to Instagram from a computer rather than a mobile device, there are more than a few limits placed by Instagram that can introduce roadblocks.

One such issue is that changes in Instagram can cause plugins to no longer work. The developer of the plugin must then make changes (if possible) so their software will once again function normally. Sometimes this is successful, and sometimes it is not.

It remains to be seen whether the LR/Instagram plugin will be updated to a functional state anytime soon. In the meantime, another application recommended by a reader is called Flume. This application is only available for Macintosh, but it does enable you to upload photos to Instagram directly from your computer. There have been issues with this application not functioning completely at times, but it does appear to be fully functional for now. You can find Flume here:

While I still enjoy sharing my photos on Instagram, I will admit that the restrictions implemented on this platform can be frustrating. If you’re comfortable using Instagram on a mobile device, you’ll generally have a very good experience. If you prefer to use a computer, there will be challenges.

Note that you can find my photos (and follow me!) on my Instagram page here:

Will Keywording be Obsolete?


Today’s Question: Do you think that the use of keywords in Lightroom Classic will eventually be replaced by Adobe Sensei, or some other form of AI [artificial intelligence]? The cloud-based version of Lightroom is already using Sensei to find photos.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Given enough time, I would say that image analysis will most certainly replace most basic keywording tasks. I assume that will apply to a future version of Lightroom Classic, among other software.

More Detail: The cloud-based version of Adobe Lightroom, along with the Adobe Photoshop Elements Organizer, already include search based on image analysis. In other words, the software can analyze your photos to the point that if you search for the word “airplane”, you’ll see search results that should include photos of airplanes (assuming you have any such photos).

Of course, you’ll also likely find that the search results include photos that don’t actually include the subject you were searching for. The arrangement of shapes in the photo may have simply resembled the subject you were searching for, tricking the image analysis into thinking the photo was something it wasn’t.

With time, image analysis technology will improve. That will mean greater accuracy for search results, as well as a much wider range of terms that can be searched for. It would be helpful, for example, to be able to search based on concepts, beyond just the names of physical objects that appear in your photos.

The only real question is how long it will take for technology to get to the point that image analysis can effectively replace the need to add keywords to photos.

That said, there would likely be terms you would still want to add as keywords to your photos. Those might include keywords that relate to abstract concepts, for example, or perhaps keywords that indicate a photo has been used in a particular project.

The point is that keywording will surely become more obsolete in the future. The only questions relate to how soon, and to what extent you can reduce the number of keywords you might add to a photo.

You can view a recording of the webinar presentation I gave on the subject of keywording photos on my Tim Grey TV channel on YouTube here:

Colorize a Black and White


Today’s Question: I know there is a way to add a little color to a black and white photo in Photoshop, but is there a way to do that in Lightroom [Classic]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can colorize a black and white photo in Lightroom Classic using the Color option in conjunction with the Adjustment Brush tool. However, in Lightroom Classic the process is a bit more complicated in some ways than it would be in Photoshop.

More Detail: In Photoshop it is possible to paint color into a black adn white photos by adding a single empty image layer to the image, changing the blend mode for that layer to Color, and then painting with various colors on that layer. This enables you to use a single layer to paint many colors in different areas of the photo.

In Lightroom Classic it is not quite as streamlined. You can paint color into an image with an Adjustment Brush targeted adjustment, but you’ll need to add a new adjustment for every color you want to use.

To get started, you can click the Adjustment Brush button at the far right of the small toolbar that appears below the Histogram section of the right panel in the Develop module. By default the option will be set to New (rather than Edit) to create a new adjustment. Click the color swatch associated with the Color label, and select a color. Note that you are only able to select a color by defining a hue and saturation, without a brightness control.

After selecting a color, you can adjust the brush settings for the Adjustment Brush tool, and then paint directly on the image to add the color. If you then change the Color setting, the color will change for the current adjustment, which may not be an intended change. If you want to paint with a different color you’ll need to add a new adjustment for the Adjustment Brush.

To add a new adjustment, click the New layer to the right of the Mask label at the top of the adjustments for the Adjustment Brush. Then select a new color, and paint to apply that color to areas of the image.

If you want to modify an existing adjustment, you can click on the adjustment button, which will appear in the position on the image where you first clicked to paint with the color you want to adjust. You can then paint (or erase) to refine the area affected by the color, or change the actual color if you’d like to fine-tune the effect.

The key challenge with this approach in Lightroom is that you’ll have an individual adjustment button for every color you want to paint into the image, which can get a little cumbersome and confusing if you want to paint a relatively large number of colors into your black and white image.

Instagram without Mobile


Today’s Question: I see you have posted a lot of your photos on Instagram and I have just signed up for an account. But it seems that the only way to get my photos posted in via my iPhone. I want to use my Instagram account to let my friend and family look at my work. As most of my photo work is located on my desktop is the only way to post to Instagram by sending to my iPhone and then uploading? There has to be an easier way and hopefully you will offer some options.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can share photos to Instagram from a computer by either using a software tool designed for this purpose (such as the LR/Instagram plug-in for Adobe Lightroom Classic), or by using a feature that simulates a mobile device with the web browser on your computer.

More Detail: Instagram does employ a number of restrictions, but in many cases you can work around those restrictions.

Early on, for example, Instagram only allowed you to share photos that had been cropped to a square, so if you wanted to post a non-square image you needed to add space around the rectangular photo to put it into a square frame. That limitation has since been lifted, but you are still limited in the aspect ratio you can use, which is especially limiting for vertical photos.

One limitation that still exists is the strong emphasis on sharing photos directly from a mobile device. The idea is that Instagram is (or at least was) intended to share photos in real time that were captured with a mobile device. Therefore, at least in theory, you must use the Instagram app on a mobile device to share photos on Instagram.

There are a couple of other options, however. For example, the LR/Instagram plug-in for Lightroom Classic enables you to publish photos to Instagram directly from your Lightroom catalog. You can find the LR/Instagram plug-in here:

Another option that can be very convenient is the ability to simulate a mobile device using the web browser on your computer, and then using that simulated environment to post photos to Instagram. You can read an article about this process on the GreyLearning blog here:

And, of course, you can also synchronize photos from your computer to your mobile device to make those photos available for sharing from within the Instagram app. For example, I export photos I want to share on Instagram to a folder in the Pictures folder on my computer. I then enable that folder for synchronization to my iPhone. This enables me to share some of my favorite photos with others directly on my iPhone, and also makes it easy to then publish those photos using the Instagram app on my iPhone.

By the way, you can find my Instagram feed (and follow me) by searching for me as @timgreyphoto, or by pointing your web browser here:

Keywording for Stock Photography


Today’s Question: What special considerations (content, workflow, etc.) apply when creating keywords for images that will be submitted to stock agencies such as Getty Images or iStock?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To me, when keywording photos that will be submitted to a stock photography agency, there are several key considerations. First, you want to ensure that the keywords are accurate. You also want to be thorough, in line with the submission guidelines of the agency you’ll submit the photos to. You also want to try to make sure the keywords will help the photo be found by a client who may be interested in using the image.

More Detail: Each stock photography agency has their own guidelines for keywording photos. You’ll typically find that it will be recommended that a photo include at least five keywords (which I consider a very low number) and as many as around fifty keywords (which I think is probably a better target for many images).

The whole point of adding keywords to images that will be featured in a stock photography library is to ensure that customers can actually find a photo that will suit their needs. It is important, however, that the keywords be accurate, so that a photo will only be included in a search result if it is likely to fit the needs of the client.

The first step is to add keywords that describe the actual content of the photo, such as the name of the location where the photo was captured. Next, I recommend adding any keywords that might describe concepts the photo helps illustrate. For example, for a photo of a fast-moving subject incorporating a motion blur effect you could add keywords such as “speed” and “fast”.

I think it can be helpful to imagine all of the various ways a given photo might be used. In other words, consider what sorts of emotions does the photo evoke, and try to keyword based on those concepts. When in doubt, it is generally best to have more keywords rather than fewer when the intent is to submit images to a stock photography agency.

But again, be sure to review the submission guidelines for each stock agency you intend to submit photos to, so you can be sure to follow those guidelines carefully.