On this blog, I write a lot about how to edit photos and how to work with Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom and Photoshop. Much of what I write has to do with what I call “technique.” That is, “how to do” either this or that. In my opinion, that’s fine. It produces a result and that’s what most people are looking for.
There are occasions, though, that call for instruction on how to “manage” photos. After all, applications such as Bridge and Lightroom are just as much management tools as they are editing ones. Well, Lightroom is much more editing that Bridge is, but that’s what it was created for.
In today’s post, I’ll be focusing on how to somewhat manage and organize virtual copies in Adobe Lightroom. I’ve written posts that talk about much of what Lightroom can do in the virtual copy world and if you’d like to read through those posts, please do.
Within Lightroom, we have the ability to create virtual copies. So far, I’ve talked about their benefits and how to work with just a few photos at a time. The question arises; what if we have more than just a few photos and what if we create more than just a few virtual copies? How do we ever find them? What if we have tons of photos and scrolling through the filmstrip panel isn’t good enough? Is there a way to isolate virtual copies so we can work with just them? Finally, can we organize virtual copies in such a way that makes them easier to see?
In this post, I’ll attempt to answer some of these questions because once you move past editing one photo at a time and begin working with collections, you’ll need all the help you can get. You’ll need efficiency.
Photos I’ll Be Working With
In order to clearly explain what I’d like to explain, I need to first create multiple virtual copies. In order to create virtual copies, I need to choose a few photos. I chose these two.
These photos don’t represent anything in particular. I just closed my eyes and pointed at the screen. I already have some pictures imported into Lightroom, so these two are the ones I happened to land on.
Creating Virtual Copies
To kick things off, I’ll create three virtual copies for each of the demo photos.
To do this, I basically right-clicked on each of the two thumbnails in the filmstrip panel (Develop Module) three times and for each time, I chose Create Virtual Copy from the menu that appeared.
Now, to make these virtual copies stand out, I’ll need to make them look different than the original. I think I’ll reduce the saturation for each copy to -25, -50 and -75 respectively.
I’ll do this for each of the two photos so I’ll end up with two originals and six virtual copies. Remember, this is all just to demonstrate how to find and organize these things. Nothing special is going on.
Identifying a Virtual Copy
Sometimes, when creating multiple virtual copies, like I just did, things can get confusing. It’s oftentimes challenging to figure out which was the original photo and which is the copy. In this section, I’ll show you a quick tip that will help with identifying what’s what.
I just finished making the virtual copies for the second photo. I now have four very similar photos. Even though I reduced the saturation of the copies, I still can’t seem to clearly differentiate the images from each other. To deal with this, I’ll roll over the thumbnails in the filmstrip panel at the bottom of Lightroom. This will give me the information I need to know in a few different places.
If you take a look at the above screenshot, you’ll notice a few different things. First, check out what I circled in red. If you look at the end of the file name, you’ll see Copy 3. This means that this particular image is the third copy I made from the original. If it were the original itself, it would not say anything about being a copy.
Second, if you look at the upper left corner of the thumbnail I’m rolling over, you’ll see a small square that identifies the image as being the second of four (2 of 4). That’s pretty self-explanatory. The original is first and then the three copies follow in the current series.
Finally, if you hover over a thumbnail long enough, the file name will appear with an indication of whether or not it’s a virtual copy. In this case, it says countryside-dusk.jpg – Copy 3.
Filtering the Photos
Let’s get to the meat of this post. I’d now like to show you how to filter these photos and virtual copies.
To begin working my way through these images, I’ll need to move over to the Library module. So, I’ll click Library up at the top of Lightroom.
Next, I’ll head up to the View > Show Filter Bar menu item and click. Then, once the filter bar appears, I’ll click Attribute.
The area I’ll be specifically focusing on is located at the right side of the light gray bar. It’s titled Kind.
Inside the red outline in the screenshot above are three choices. The first is Master Photos, the second is Virtual Copies and the third is Videos. For this post, we’ll ignore Videos and only focus on the other two.
Okay, here’s how these things work – let’s say I have 100 master photos and 100 virtual copies that I made from those originals. By default, all of those images are displayed in the Library. I’ll have a total of 200 thumbnails. If I head up to the Master Photos button and push it, the virtual copies will be hidden. If I click that same button again, the copies will return to view.
The same is true for the next button. If I press Virtual Copies, the original master photos disappear. Again, if I click that same button once more, the masters will return to view. So essentially, by pushing a button, I’m “filtering” out things I don’t want and keeping the things I do.
I want to give you a quick warning here. If you click both the Master Photos and Virtual Copies buttons, both of those types of thumbnails will remain in view and it will appear that nothing happened. Keep you eye on the text at the bottom of the grid after you push a button. It’ll tell you exactly what type of images you’re looking at.
In the above screenshot, you can see that only a few thumbnails are in view. The virtual copies I just made for this post and a few others I had left over from a previous one.
I’ll go ahead and reset the filters so everything is showing again.
The next method for identifying, or visually filtering, virtual copies is to have what’s called a “Badge” applied to the virtual copy thumbnails. You may have noticed earlier that I already had these showing. I didn’t say anything about them because I was waiting for this section.
A badge is a small icon that applied to a copy. It looks like the corner of a piece of paper that’s being folded over.
If you look inside any virtual copy thumbnail, you’ll see what I’m referring to.
The way to turn these things on and off is to right-click on any thumbnail and roll over the View Options menu item and then to click on the Show Badges option.
Sorting Thumbnails in the Library
This trick actually applies to both regular “master” thumbnails as well as virtual copies. It doesn’t really matter what’s being shown in the Library grid. It’ll work for everything.
To sort thumbnails in Lightroom is easy. All you need to do is head up to the View > Sort menu item and roll over it.
To actually sort, you’ll need to determine how exactly you’d like to view the thumbnails and make that selection. Currently, I have them viewed as a Custom Order, which means that I dragged some things around manually, and Ascending. I could reverse the current order by clicking on the Descending option. Or, if I had ratings applied to these thumbnails, I could sort by those ratings. The list goes on. Really, you just need to experiment with this menu and find what you work with the most. Then, use that sort option, if necessary.
Wow, that was longer than I thought it was going to be. I do think I answered all of the questions I posed at the beginning of this post though. That’s a good thing. I really could go on and on. With this particular post, I had to lop off an entire section because I’d like to save it for one all its own, so you’ll be seeing that soon. Anyway, if you have any questions or concerns, please leave them in the comment section below. As always, thanks for reading!