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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Tutorial - Part V - Using Filters

Part I - Index and Introduction
Part VI - Importing Your Images


As explained in the previous part, metadata is useful because it lets you organize your catalog and search for images using an incredible variety of criteria.

The Lightroom Library module is the where most of your searches will take place and it offers plenty of controls where you can start your search from.

As we've seen in the previous part, you can start a quick metadata search using:
  • The arrow control that is shown at the right side of a metadata value in the Metadata panel (only available for selected headers).
  • The arrow control that is shown at the right side of a keyword in the Keyword List panel.
  • Using the Attribute search bar in the filter bar.
The Attribute search shown in the previous part is just one of the kind of searches that the Lightroom filter bar will let you perform. The filter bar, in fact, is the place where you will perform any non-trivial metadata filtering.

Search criteria can also be saved for future use and quick access to frequently used search criteria.

The Filter Bar

The filter bar functionality is pretty intuitive:
  • It lets you build a query using the search criteria that it offers.
  • It applies the filter to the images contained in the currently selected folder and all of its sub-hierarchy.
  • It will display the results in the Lightroom main window (see Part I).
An inactive filter bar is shown in the following picture (if the filter bar is not visible, just activate it using the Show Filter Bar item in the View menu):

Lightroom Library Module - Filter Bar

The filter bars lets you build your query using criteria coming from the following sets, whose interface you can activate choosing the corresponding control in the filter bar:
  • Text: This interface is used to build a plain text search in one of the searchable text fields.
  • Attribute: This interface is used to perform a search using one of the special attribute metadata (rating, flag, label, kind) described in the previous section. 
  • Metadata: This interface is used to perform a search using whichever available metadata field.
  • Saved filter: This menu is used to open previously saved filter or to save the current search criteria into a new filter.
  • None: the None control is just used to turn filtering off.
The following pictures show the interface of the filter bar interfaces described so far:

Lightroom Library Module - Filter Bar - Text

In the Text type search, the user can make a free text search specifying the text fields to search, the text match criteria (Contains all, starts with, etc.) and the text to search.

Lightroom Library Module - Filter Bar - Attribute

In the Attribute type search, as detailed in the previous part, the user can filter the images using flags, rating, label and kind controls, as can be seen in the previous image.

Lightroom Library Module - Filter Bar - Metadata

In the Metadata type search, the user can build a criteria made up multiple metadata filters, one per column. By default, Lightroom provides 4 columns but the user can add them or remove them at will. To change the metadata a column is associated with, it's sufficient to choose another metadata field clicking on the column label. Each column will contain the available filter values for each metadata field, depending on the values that can be found in your catalog.

Lightroom Library Module - Filter Bar - Multiple Criteria

A filter can be made up of different types of criteria. As you can see in the previous image, different types of filters can be stacked up together to build a complex query.

Lightroom Library Module - Filter Bar - Filter Menu

Lightroom provides a set of prebuilt filters with the most commonly used criteria, such as the Flagged filter, one of the filters I use most. If you want to save a commonly used search criteria into a filter, just select the Save Current Settings as a New Preset... from the filter menu and the filter will be available for future use.

A reduced filter functionality is present in the viewer bar, as it can be seen in the following picture:

Lightroom Viewer Bar

In its upper right corner, in every module where this bar is present, you can select a saved filter using the filter menu and apply a quick attribute filter using flags and ratings.

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