Superfast Winnowing in Lightroom

by Ken Milburn

I was lucky enough to be present last night at the Northern California Chapter of ASMP's (American Society of Media Photographer's) meeting at which Tom Hogan of Adobe and Joseph Schorr from Apple each presented their views of Lightroom and Aperture. Since each was given only 30 minutes to present what they considered to be the best of what their program's did, it was significant that a large part of both presentations had to do with how quickly and accurately a busy photographer could get rid of the photograph's the photographer didn't want the client to see.

It's important to note that, at least where Lightroom is concerned, you always have the choice of whether to eliminate an image permanently or temporarily. So, for instance, if you're collecting photographs for a special purpose or audience, you can still eliminate excellent photos that just don't pertain... and you haven't really lost them. On the other hand, if the objective is to get rid of stuff that would simply embarrass your reputation, poof!... gone forever!

One way to really speed up winnowing is to do it while importing automatically from your camera or card. Lightroom shows preview thumbnails of all the images as soon as it recognizes the import source. By default, there are checkboxes in each thumbnail and they're all checked. So you can very quickly scan the thumbnails and uncheck anything that's obviously out-of-focus, out-of-frame, blank, or is an accidental shot of nothing important (such as your foot). The unchecked shots won't be imported and will disappear when you reformat the card.

Another instance in which you'll probably want to eliminate obviously "missed" shots is when shooting Action sequences (as in X frames per second). The technique works equally well if you're just shooting fast to try to catch poses, angles, or facial expressions. In choosing which images to eliminate, focus and timing will be equally important in making the decision. So Tom suggested editing these in the Library by using the Loupe view in full frame.



You have to try this and practice it a couple of times and you'll suddenly wonder how you lived without it: First, you scroll through the Filmstrip and find the first shot in the sequence. Then you click the Loupe icon and press Shift + Tab to get rid of all the Panels and menus, so that the entire screen looks like a slide show. Then press L twice to "turn out the lights." Then you rapidly push the Right and Left buttons to move through the sequence and press Cmd/Ctrl + Delete any time you want to brutally eliminate one of the frames. If there's any doubt at all about whether one of the frames is sharp enough or not, just click once near the center of the frame. Boom! You see the image at 100-percent and you can scroll around it just by pressing the Spacebar. When you want to go back to the full frame, just click again. When you want the Panels and Tabs back, just press Shift + Tab again.


Erik J. Barzeski
2007-03-15 09:07:21
I may have misunderstood the tone, but I don't see anything here that Aperture can't do (and do so more easily). It too can import selectively, and in Aperture I'll regularly hit "f" to go full-screen, keep one finger on the right arrow, and another on the "9" (reject) key. Right arrow, right arrow, right arrow, 9, right arrow, right arrow... on through all of the images. A smart folder for "Rejects" shows the images at the end, and if they're that bad, I'll just remove them entirely (cmd-delete, return, return to confirm the dialogs). And even then, they're just put in the trash - I can still retrieve them.

I'll also often set up stacks prior to importing, and in a stack, I can easily hit cmd-\ when I see an obvious stack pick.

Ken Milburn
2007-03-15 10:06:41
This blog isn't about Aperture, it's about Lightroom. The technique you describe for Aperture is certainly very similar. You can also do stacks in Lightroom, BTW.
Joe Barrett
2007-03-15 14:40:49
Thanks for the tip. I think Lightrooms ability to press Shift + Tab to get rid of all the panels is very slick. This combined with the Lights out function is a real winner.

Joe Barrett
The Image-Space