I’ve got some really great tips for you today. If you’re into using virtual copies in Lightroom, these shortcuts will be truly helpful. They’re the types of things you’ll likely use every time you take advantage of virtual copies themselves, so keep on reading below.
In today’s post, I’d like to talk about how we can organize virtual copies so they don’t take up so much room in the center panel grid view or in the bottom filmstrip view in Adobe Lightroom. I’ll show you how we can go about collapsing what we call “stacks.” Also, along those same lines, I’ll demonstrate how to change up which photo shows on top of the stack, or which one is the stack’s “representative.” Finally, I’ll walk through the process of changing which photo, among those in the stack, is the primary one. This is extraordinarily helpful if you’ve made many edits to a virtual copy and would like to make that copy the master photo. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
Creating Some Virtual Copies
For this post, I’ll go ahead and create two virtual copies of a random photo. If you aren’t familiar with how to do this type of thing, you can catch up by reading a few of my previous posts on the topic. If nothing else, at least read through the top post that I link to below.
In the screenshot below, you can see the one master photo and the two virtual copies of that photo. They are of an airplane and all three are highlighted (selected).
As you can see, I’ve gone ahead and made the first virtual copy, which is the second in the row, black and white. After that, I enhanced the colors of the second virtual copy, which is the last in the row of three images. The master is the dull one at the beginning.
Collapsing the Stack
The three images that are selected are called a “stack.” If I had multiple groups of master and virtual copy images, I’d have multiple stacks. Now, you can imaging that if I worked extensively with virtual copies in Lightroom, each of these stacks would take up a lot of room, which isn’t necessarily a good thing if I’m trying to navigate around the application. Also, in this case, I only have two virtual copies. If I had twenty, all of those copies would really be in the way. If I were a wedding photographer, I could imagine this scenario multiplied many times over. My point is, hiding all the virtual copies that aren’t currently being worked on is the perfect way to keep a workspace clean and easy to get around.
Collapsing a stack is really easy to accomplish. All you have to do is to click on one of the thin vertical lines at either side of the stack. In the next screenshot, you can see both of the stack handles. I’ve outlined them in red.
If I click one of the handles, the stack will collapse, saving me tons of room in my workspace.
Now, you may be asking yourself right now, “If a stack is collapsed and only one photo is showing, how do I know that virtual copies exist?” Well, if you look at the previous screenshot, you can see the small number in the upper left corner of the thumbnail. That’s the number of photos in the stack. If that number is rolled over with a mouse pointer, a popup box appears telling you that a stack exists. Once you get used to looking for that number, it’s fairly simple to recognize.
Also, just so you’re aware, the stack is also collapsed in the filmstrip view that runs along the bottom of Lightroom.
Changing the Top of the Stack
In the above screenshot, you can see that the top of the stack, or the representative photo, is the master. In this case, it’s rather dull. And in reality, it doesn’t represent what I’d like to see if I were quickly browsing through all of the thumbnails. The good thing is, I can change which photo shows when a stack is collapsed. This effort is almost as straightforward as the one in the previous section.
To change which thumbnail appears on top of a stack when it’s collapsed, make sure the stack is open and all virtual copies are showing. Then, click and drag the photo you’d like to appear on top, to the leftmost position in the series of images. Then, let go.
As you can see, the more colorful virtual copy is now at the beginning of the series, leaving the master image second in line. If I go ahead and collapse the stack now, let’s see which image remains visible.
Just as I suspected. The thumbnail I wanted is now at the top of the stack.
Changing Which is the Master Photo
For whatever reason, you may want to change which image is the master in the series of virtual copies. Let’s say that you made a few copies off of a “not so spectacular” master and worked on one of those copies for a good long time. In this case, you may want to actually change which photo is the original.
To make a virtual copy the master photo, first select the copy thumbnail. Then, head up to the Photo > Set Copy as Master menu item and click.
Once that’s done, the copy will switch over to become the master and the original master will now be considered a virtual copy. To be sure this has happened, you can select the new master thumbnail and look at its file name. No longer will it be appended with / Copy. It will take on the file name of the original master.
Also, you’ll see the small number in the upper left of the new master thumbnail and you’ll see the folded lower left corners of the virtual copy thumbnails. You can change which copy is the master as many times as you wish.
That’s about it. I hope you got something from this post and enjoyed reading it. If you have any questions or concerns, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!