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Using Lightroom's Filter Bar

Hi Folks:

Last month we did a series of posts on “The Many Faces of Lightroom Presets“, but there is one other area in Lightroom where you can create presets that we set aside because it deserves its own space.  That’s the Filter Bar.  As seen below, you’ll find the filter bar in the Library module at the top of the screen.  If you can’t see the filter bar, press the backspace ( \ ) key to reveal it.  One aspect of the filter bar connects to the Library module’s toolbar options; if you don’t see the toolbar at the bottom of the screen, press the ‘T’ key.  Together they look like this:

Filter Bar and Toolbar

Filter Bar and Toolbar

NB: At the right edge of the toolbar, just past the slider that adjusts Thumbnail size, is a drop arrow.  If you click on that arrow you can change what options are shown on the toolbar.

Now then.  In other blog posts we’ve talked about the many, many ways Lightroom has for delineating images.  As we’ve said before, it doesn’t matter if your catalogue has 1000 images or 100,000 images, what you need is the ability to find the one image you’re looking for in the moment.  In order to be able to search for an image you need to take the time to define your images, and how you do this is up to you.  One example may be found here: “My Lightroom Workflow“.  Organizing your images into folders on the drive is one way. Collections, whether standard Collections or Smart Collections are another.  For more on that, please see our ‘Collections in Lightroom‘ post.  Keywords are one way of marking images, metadata is another, and you can also use flags, star ratings, colour labels or any combination thereof.

Having determined ways to delineate your images, it’s also important to be able to search through them and find the one(s) you want.  Again, Smart Collections are an effective tool for this, and Smart Collections start from an ‘entire catalogue’ basis.  Another option to search the catalogue or only a given folder (with or without subfolders), is to use Lightroom’s Filter Bar.  By clicking on Library one can click on ‘Show Photos in Subfolders’ to turn that option off or on.

There are several ways to work with the filter bar, and the variables can be used singly or in combination.  We’ll go through them from left to right.

1) Text

Text Filter

Text Filter

By clicking on the Text filter you are presented with three field options.  The first asks in which fields you want to search, and there are 10 choices.  The second field asks for search paramaters, such as Contains, Contains All, Doesn’t Contain, Starts With or Ends With.  The third field is where you enter the search term(s) you are looking for.  An example might be “Keywords – Are Empty” or “Title – Starts With – Blue”.  The choices are yours to play with.

NB:  There’s a little magnifying glass to the left of the third field, and if you click on that you can change the search parameters for the current filter.

2) Attribute

Attribute Filter

Attribute Filter

The Attribute filter relates most directly to the parameters set on the Toolbar below. Using the Attribute filter one can search for images that have been flagged as Picks, Unpicked or Rejects, images that have certain star ratings and/or images that have specific colour labels.  Using ‘Kind’ one can also filter master images, virtual copies and/or movie files.  One may select any or all of these categories, so, for example, one could select Picks and Unmarked images, red, yellow or blue colour labels, etc.  Also note that to the left of the star values it shows ≥ (greater than or equal to). By clicking on this one can change that option to = (equal to) or to ≤ (less than or equal to).  Therefore one could, for example search for images that have 2 stars (=**) , for images that are greater than or equal to 1 star (≥*) or those that are less than or equal to 3 stars (≤***).

3) Metadata

Metadata Filter

Metadata Filter

If you’re not familiar with the term ‘metadata’ you may want to read our “Lightroom, File Management and Metadata“post.  Basically metadata is information about the image, and in general terms there are two kinds of metadata: EXIF and IPTC.  EXIF information is added by the camera at the time of exposure, and includes the date/time, location (if so enabled), exposure information, make/model/serial number of the camera and lens (where possible) and more.  IPTC metadata is information provided by the photographer and might include a name and address, copyright information, etc.  The image above shows four metadata fields; all of which are set to be inclusive.  We have Date, Camera, Lens and also LR colour labels here.  One can then select only images made in a certain day/month/year for example or images made using a certain camera/lens combination.  However, each of those filter options have drop boxes at each end.  Clicking on either of those drop boxes brings up more options, as seen in the image below:

Metadata Filter Options

Metadata Filter Options

By clicking on the drop arrow on the left side of each filter one can change the parameters for that filter.  Instead of Camera model for example, one might choose images captured at a certain ISO value or images that have had a specific Develop preset applied.  By clicking on the drop box at the right side of a filter one can either add another filter column or remove the current one.

4) Finally, as mentioned, one can use these filters in combination.

Combination Filters

Combination Filters

In this example, Lightroom has found three images containing the keyword ‘tree’, with 3 stars or more, a purple colour label, made this year, with my cell phone camera.  Do be careful with the ‘Text’ filter, as ‘Contains: tree’ will find tree, trees and street for example, whereas ‘Contains Words: tree’ will only find tree.

One can disable all of the set filters by toggling each of them off, or simply by clicking on ‘None’.

5) Now, on the far right side of the filter bar is another drop box, and a lock icon.

Filter Bar Presets

Filter Bar Presets

The drop box shows Filter Presets.  Lightroom ships with several filter presets and you can easily add your own, using the same techniques as with other Lightroom presets.  The lock icon on the filter bar determines whether or not the filters remain enabled when changing folders.  If unlocked, the filters will only hold true for the folder in which they were set, but if locked, the filters will remain in place when moving from one folder to another.

Update:

Although I don’t often use the lower film strip, when I wrote this post I neglected to mention that there is a simpler version of the filter bar on the right side of the film strip.

Lower Filter Bar

Lower Filter Bar

Using this one can filter by pick flags, star ratings and/or colour labels, and one can also bring into use a filter preset. At the right edge of this filter bar is an on/off switch, similar to using the ‘None’ option with the top filter bar. The lower filter bar is not as robust as the top one, but can be useful for making quick image selections.

Okay, that’s it.  Now go out and make some photographs!!

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. You can find more of our posts on photography and Lightroom tutorials here, and you can find links to over 200 other sites that have Lightroom tips, tutorials and videos here.

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