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Author Topic: How do you manage your catalog using collections  (Read 3704 times)
jljonathan
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« on: February 05, 2012, 08:28:43 PM »
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 I have gotten away from using folders as a organizing strategy and have relied mainly on keywords so far, but, I find that this is still not satisfactory. I would like to now move into using collections as many of you have done on this forum. Can you offer some help with moving into this kind of organization from your experiences with it. How to structure it etc. One question that comes to mind is don't you eventually end up with massive amounts of various collections? How do you handle organizing the many collections so as to easily find what you are looking for? Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.
Jonathan
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jjj
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2012, 08:52:39 PM »
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The structure you choose is one that makes sense to you.  Grin

Personally I use date-description [2012-02-08 Snowfall] folders for all my files and also name them the same way - this way I can easily find or use my work with any other programme or with any OS. To this I then try and add keywords to aid finding things. But keywords are very, very time consuming to do well and catching up with keywording my back catalogue will take me years to complete.  Sad Good naming of files also helps as you can search for metadata text in names as well as keywords. I can find images in above example folder if I search for snow]

Collections are great, really, really great. The icing on the organising cake. I and many others use them for organising images for output. e.g. various collection sets for images to go on my website, sets of work already uploaded, to make books or for any projects I'm doing.
Smart collections are even better as you can set up some parameters and then they automatically fill up as you keyword, tag or label your images. For example as you already keyword, you can make collections of say cats in kitchen or dog on beach or portfolio portraits or portfolio landscapes etc.... You can do quite complex smart collections to help organise your images. In fact writing about this just made me realise that some of the dumb collections [and marking up processes] for my various websites, would be much better as smart collections. 
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W.T. Jones
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2012, 02:12:43 AM »
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I don't know if using collections as the sole means of filing is such a hot idea. I also use the folder structure by date and description and then keyword as required. Things are easy to find even after time has passed the memory fades

I do use collections and Smart collections are the cats meow. I use smart collections for reoccurring subjects such as grand kids for example. And "dumb" collections for perhaps a one time project that I am working on that will most likely be archived later & not see the light of day for some time.

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jeremyrh
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2012, 02:19:29 AM »
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Personally I use date-description [2012-02-08 Snowfall] folders

Hopefully 2012_02_08_Snowfall, as per Seth Resnick's sound advice on the WAMP video :-)
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luxborealis
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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2012, 08:55:03 AM »
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For folder naming, I prefer YYYYMMDD-DescriptiveTitle (e.g. 20120104-EvertonEramosaRiver) with no spaces and no underscores (I'm on a Mac, though). It may seem difficult to read, at first, but it quickly becomes second nature, especially with the use of UpperCase at the beginning of each word. I number my originals the same way, but with an image number like this: YYYYMMDD-###-DescriptiveFilename (20120104-55-EvertonEramosaRiverIceFallsCU.ORF). The automation built into Lightroom makes this a quick and easy task (e.g. in the Metadata palette,  Ctrl/Cmd/Right-click on the "Batch Rename" icon next to the filename and the "Rename" dialogue box opens with all of its customization).

jjj mentioned about how time-consuming keywords can be. He's right, however, I do most of my keywording upon import, then add a few to distinguish differences in photographs once imported. The few minutes spent upon import makes a huge difference months/years down the line.

I find Collections to be very helpful in a few ways:
  • I use Smart Collections as a "catch-all" repository based on specific keywords and ratings (e.g. waterfall with *** or more). This is similar to having a "saved find" but is always there. Note: "waterfall" is singular so that I catch those that are key worded with both "waterfall" and "waterfalls"
  • Using, for e.g. the "Waterfall ***+" Smart Collection, I will then create a Waterfall collection for a specific task or output to further narrow the field. After creating the Waterfall collection, Ctrl/Cmd/Right-click the name and select "Set as Target Collection". Then, with the "Waterfall***+" Smart Collection open, use the "B" key to "Send to Target Collection"(alternatively, Ctrl/Cmd/Right-click on a photo and, in the contextual menu, select "Send to Target Collection". If you have the "Caps Lock" key engaged, as you "send" a photo, LR will automatically go to the next photo.
  • I also organize nested "Sets" of relevant collections and smart collections (see attachment).

I hope this helps.
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jeremyrh
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2012, 09:15:14 AM »
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For folder naming, I prefer YYYYMMDD-DescriptiveTitle (e.g. 20120104-EvertonEramosaRiver) with no spaces and no underscores (I'm on a Mac, though).
For "future-proofing" I prefer to avoid hyphens and spaces, as these have specific other meanings on UNIX, should you ever want to do that, or have your images hosted on a UNIX system. Underscores are preferable from that point of view.

A trivial point, maybe ...
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luxborealis
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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2012, 09:20:07 AM »
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jeremyrh - I understand what you're saying in a global context. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I guess it's proof of my visual-orientation, but I find underscores_to_be_quite_ugly and prefer-dashes. Macs run on a Unix-based OS, and still "like" dashes. Even LR offers dashes as an alternative to illegal characters (along with underscores), so it can't be all that bad to use them.
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jjj
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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2012, 12:32:01 PM »
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Any OS UI that requires you to use underscores as opposed to dashes is obviously not designed with human users in mind. So have no intention of using them and will continue to use dashes where more appropriate. Also you have two symbols as they can mean different things to humans.  OSX and Win cope just fine with my labelling and in the same way.
If doing images for web when you are more likely to come across the need to removes spaces, you can simply export in a suitable manner. Photoshop's Save for Web does just that automatically.

As for no spaces, urgh!  There is very good reason why spaces are used and that is because they dramatically increase legibility and also reduce the chances of errors and make mistakes much easier to spot.  Ofcourseyoucanlearntoparsesentacesornumbsersthathavenospacesbutwhymakesthingsdifficultfornoreason.
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luxborealis
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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2012, 12:36:48 PM »
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You missed the part about UpperCase for each new word:

OfCourseYouCanLearnToParseSentacesOrNumbsersThatHaveNoSpacesButWhyMakesThingsDifficultForNoReason

and it's only for short DescriptiveTitles and DescriptiveFilenames. Yes, I could put spaces in, but find that for filenames, it works for me.
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JRSmit
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« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2012, 12:56:10 PM »
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I have gotten away from using folders as a organizing strategy and have relied mainly on keywords so far, but, I find that this is still not satisfactory. I would like to now move into using collections as many of you have done on this forum. Can you offer some help with moving into this kind of organization from your experiences with it. How to structure it etc. One question that comes to mind is don't you eventually end up with massive amounts of various collections? How do you handle organizing the many collections so as to easily find what you are looking for? Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.
Jonathan

As jjj already said, the structure that works for you is best. Personally i use filenames only for assuring unique filenames, and as they are shown in the gridview for instance as short as possible.
TTG (The Turning Gate) has some tutorial on naming, taking into account publishing on the web with the webengine possibilities, worth reading.
I prefer working with collections combined with smart collections over folders. Check John Beardsworth for a good way to support your workflow with a smart use of collections.
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« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2012, 01:45:58 PM »
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See http://www.beardsworth.co.uk/lightroom/workflow-smart-collections/

A little comment about the above renaming schemes is that they are all "good". Saying that does not mean that all naming schemes are equally "valid", just that these ones all satisfy important criteria - that the date is first and as year month day, there are individual frame numbers, and short descriptive text. So the chance of two different originals ever sharing the same filename is almost nil, sorting will be in capture time order in Explorer/Finder or whatever application you need to use, and that there's a human-readable indication of what the picture shows which will again survive in other apps or in the OS.

I happen to prefer "YYMMDD_0123 short text". I don't see a need for dashes or underscores in the dates, but that's a small difference. The 123 indicates it's the 123rd "keeper" on that day and means I've got a "sequential continuity control" (accounting jargon) to ensure that all images are in a folder.

John
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Chris Kern
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2012, 02:45:03 PM »
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Well, my usual policy is to steer clear of debates about religion, politics and operating systems, but for once I'm going to make an exception -- I suspect I will be sorry -- because this discussion touches on my only real area of expertise.  (I'm a software geek who has designed a number of large institutional network computing environments.)  So here's a suggestion about directory and file-naming conventions:

Plan for Platform-Independence.

I personally use date-location directory names, leave individual image file names alone, and impose a logical organizational structure on top of the physical directory structure by using Lightroom keywords and Smart Collections.  But that's just me.

However, planning for platform-independence when choosing directory and file name conventions is an objectively smart thing to do.

Before I licensed the more expensive Adobe image suite, including Photoshop and Lightroom, I did most of my post-processing with consumer-grade proprietary products (e.g., Photoshop Elements) on Microsoft Windows and open-source software (e.g., The GIMP) on an industrial-strength variant of UNIX, both of which I ran on inexpensive personal computer hardware.  I hauled a MacBook Pro around when I was traveling, however, because it combined the best of both platforms: it had the ability to run most commercial applications on a clean, stable operating system and filesystem.

When I was ready to pop for Photoshop and, later, Lightroom, I had to make a decision.  I wasn't about to pay to license them on both OS X and Windows, so I decided to migrate most of my photography to a Mac.  But not all.  I still scan film on Windows.  I still run custom "shell scripts" to automate some metadata manipulations on standard UNIX.  And I use network-attached storage devices -- both old PCs running industrial UNIX as well as a couple of small filing appliances built on Linux -- to store and back-up all my files locally before I push last-resort back-ups into the cloud.

I'm not doing all this because I enjoy fiddling with different computing environments -- okay, maybe a little -- but because the combination of platforms provides an almost ideal balance among cost, functionality and reliability.  The hardware to run the Windows and mainstream UNIX machines is really inexpensive.  (Whenever I upgrade my only Windows box, I repurpose the hardware into a UNIX server and donate the oldest UNIX box to whoever will take it.)  I pay the "Apple tax" for most photographic work because OS X is a very pleasant environment in which to run applications.  I have access to my UNIX-based repository of files from any of the platforms, as well as from my iPad and iPhone -- same would be true if I had an Android or a Windows tablet and cellphone -- and I am able to move fairly seamlessly from one desktop machine to another with an inexpensive KVM switch.

I'm not proposing that anybody do what I am doing.  Others may do fine with a single operating system for the time being.  What I am suggesting is that it's not a good idea to box yourself in for the future by using directory or file names that don't work equally well across different filesystems and filing protocols.  However strongly bonded you are to your Mac or PC, the day may come when there is something you want to do that you can do better on a different platform.

UNIX has no problem with spaces -- Apple's OS X is just a variant of Berkeley UNIX, by the way -- but the standard UNIX "shells" (command interpreters) use them as delimiters, so it's best to avoid them.  As several others have pointed out, you can make long directory or file names readable by using a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, or by inserting dashes or underscores, all of which are perfectly acceptable on any modern operating system.  Backslashes are used as filing-component delimiters on Windows and as a shell "escape character" on UNIX and Linux, and slashes ("forward slashes) are used as filing-component delimiters on UNIX and Linux, so you should avoid them if you want to maintain platform-independence.  Some other universal ASCII and Latin-1 characters take on special meanings on various operating systems in particular contexts, so it's a good idea to avoid brackets, parentheses, quotation marks, and colons and semi-colons, as well.  And if you're in a country where your keyboard allows you to type a superset of Latin-1, you may be better off avoiding those special characters.  It's still a somewhat Anglocentric industry -- although that is changing.  (Does anybody know whether Adobe's products can handle file names in, say, Chinese or Arabic?)

Finally, it's probably best to assume case-dependence.  While OS X and Windows are perfectly happy interpreting names in a case-independent way if you configure them to do so, UNIX and Linux really want to assume that upper and lower case letters are different.

These aren't really difficult restrictions to abide by.  There isn't much information you might possibly want to convey in a directory or file name that can't be provided with letters of both cases, numbers, dashes and underscores.  Lightroom has very powerful and adaptable organizing tools.  And the nice thing about interacting with a database instead of a filesystem is that it's really easy to redo an initial organizational scheme that turns out to be unproductive if you later decide you made the wrong decision.  It's a lot more difficult if you need to rename thousands of directories and files after the fact.  Really.  I've had to do it.  More than once.

Chris
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luxborealis
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2012, 04:20:39 PM »
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Chris - Thanks very much for clearing up the under_score-dash space debate. This is very helpful and clearly you have expertise in these areas beyond what has been shown so far in this thread.

PS - I almost hit the "Report to Moderator" button with all that computer lingo!!  Grin
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jeremyrh
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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2012, 05:00:55 PM »
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This is very helpful and clearly you have expertise in these areas beyond what has been shown so far in this thread.
Nice.
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jjj
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2012, 09:27:12 PM »
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Chris, I think you are missing a really crucial aspect in your comment about future proofing. The naming conventions of files in Windows and OSX are not going to be replaced by one that is more limited. That's not how progress works. Spaces and dashes work just fine in our current GUIs and even if Win/OSX get supplanted they are not going to be replaced with filing systems where they do not work, as why would anyone other than a geek move to an OS that didn't support natural language and would also force everyone to rename all their files.


I personally use date-location directory names, leave individual image file names alone, and impose a logical organizational structure on top of the physical directory structure by using Lightroom keywords and Smart Collections.  But that's just me.

Are you saying you do not rename image files? As that's how it seems to read.
If so that'll cause problems.
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jjj
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« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2012, 09:48:19 PM »
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You missed the part about UpperCase for each new word:

OfCourseYouCanLearnToParseSentacesOrNumbsersThatHaveNoSpacesButWhyMakesThingsDifficultForNoReason

and it's only for short DescriptiveTitles and DescriptiveFilenames. Yes, I could put spaces in, but find that for filenames, it works for me.
No I had considered case. There are no capitals in numbers and BTW the sentence with caps is still full of mistakes which was the other issue!  Tongue 
Adding dashes makes dates more readable to humans as 20011001, 20100101, 20101001, 20101010, 20101101, 20100110, 20110101, 20111101, 20110111 and 20111101 are a bit challenging to differentiate or parse unless you are a computer. They were somewhat fiddly to even type correctly.

I still have yet to see why there is any good reason to avoid adding spaces or to avoid dashes whilst using modern GUIs like Win/OSX. In my view being able to use your files on an antiquated/less capable OS does not count, nor does interacting with them outside of a GUI environment.

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jljonathan
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« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2012, 11:28:12 AM »
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I'll try again. Fifteen replies and I still haven't gotten a clear idea in practical terms how you all handle collections. Lot's of information about file naming. My question concerned setting up collections; when and how do you decide to make a collection, how do you structure the collection list and doesn't the number of collections and sets grow to a point that finding collections and items becomes difficult.
Jonathan
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« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2012, 11:53:53 AM »
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My question concerned setting up collections; when and how do you decide to make a collection, how do you structure the collection list and doesn't the number of collections and sets grow to a point that finding collections and items becomes difficult.

Like you would with any sort of organizational grouping...aside from Smart Collections that auto-populate the collection based on the criteria. manually created collections and collection sets require the user to come up with the groupings...I create groupings to do slideshows and web galleries. When doing this I create VC's of the images so I can alter the images in the collection without modifying my master images. I also create a collection set named Prints and have sub collections for different print types such as Color & B&W.

The advantages of collections vs using a folder structure is that images in collections can come from all over the hard drive volumes you may have. Items in a collection can be re-ordered and even renamed (I wouldn't rename originals, just VCs). Smart Collections are an upper level metadata based organization that can easily be set up to auto add new items whose criteria match. Think of smart collections as being an auto search that Lightroom does in the background...
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« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2012, 01:31:13 PM »
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In addition to some form of workflow support based on John's concept, i create groupings for each group of delivery, such as for proofing by customer, for print on particular printer-paper settings, etc. Once an assignmen is over, i move the groupings (collections) to a collection set that identifies the assignment.
Besides this approach, i do create a collection or smart collection for a given purpose, such as a setvto print for an exhibition, of for my photogallery on my website. Jef summed the advantages up quite nicely. The one thing i believe you should avoid is replicating your folder structure in collection structure.
So to summarise, use c an sc for grouping for given purpose, mostly output oriented purposes. Collection sets to structure the c and sc's in a way that suits your needs. These structures are not cast in stone, and be easily adapted/altered as your needs and insights develop over time.

In reply to jeff's post, i believe one cannot rename vc's , but one can set its copy name field, i may be wrong or it is a feature of lr4 perhaps.
I fully agree with jeff on VC's: Vc's are a beautiful thing, virtually no extra discspace, and i use it for instance in preparation of printing to set the crop in the proportions that match those of the print in order to have full control over what is shown on the print.
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jljonathan
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« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2012, 03:08:17 PM »
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Thank you Jeff and JR for the input.  It seems that there is mutual agreement that the output functions are served well by collections. That makes a lot of sense, and has given me a starting direction. I'll will also check out John Beardsworth's workflow collection technique and see if I can use it.
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