Is your photo library in disarray?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by stuart_pratt, Jun 14, 2020.

  1. This was the strapline for an article in Amateur Photographer this week, and got me wondering. Since I don't have, and have never had an image library associated with a software application. What might I be missing?

    Currently I save images to my PC hard drive, backed up to a plug-in, saved under a year folder, then by date with a descriptor, such as 'London to Brighton bike ride' etc. If I need to find something I can search by that event, persons name, or year, and I usually find what I'm after pretty quickly. Most of the dedicated photo software applications allow you to save under categories such as portrait, landscape etc. and rate images with stars. I have always considered I don't need this, or could be bothered to allocate a rating to each image, so am I missing something here?

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  2. Yes it is. Even though I use Adobe Lightroom to manipulate & backup my photos I rarely tag them so finding a particular photo involves scrolling through a few thousand.
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  3. My galleries, 30 of them, make it relatively easy to find stuff. Better, more descriptive titles help.
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  4. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    As a Picture is worth a thousand words, here is a screenshot of my 'system'.

    00 - library 001.jpg

    Raw 10 is SD card number - 1262 is the number of DNG images (32 GB card)

    sub folders are again disc number-folder number_date - then brief aide-memoire as to contents.

    From here, I can usually locate images quite quickly.
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  5. I use a fairly simple directory system that organizes everything by month. Folder dates are always YYMMDD prefix so they sort correctly. Am I the only one that detests editing programs that want to catalog everything? I just started using Luminar and wish that whole scheme could be eliminated. Paint Shop Pro has something like that, but it's easy to completely ignore it. Also, do people really use that "rating" thing?
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  6. I use the Library that is part of Lightroom before that I used Organiser as part of PS Elements. I don't rate photos but they all have allocated Keywords, today in the No Words Forum photos on the theme "Yellow..." are required. A keyword search "yellow" brought up an abundance of choice, I couldn't see myself bothering without some sort of search system.
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  7. I think it depends a lot on the number and types of photos you process, your workflow, and how often you need to retrieve older photos. .

    Like @Ludmilla, I use Lightroom too and I couldn't do without it. But I use Lightroom mainly to organise my workflow, not to retrieve photos.
    I often take action shots in 'burst mode' during interviews, meetings and events. So my usual workflow is to select the 'keepers' in Lightoom. For large series of (event) photos, I usually tag (or color code) smaller sets of foto's from different parts of the event so I can work on one set at a time. I rate the photos that are OK (3 stars) or Good (4 stars). This is maybe 30% of the total. Then I review this 30% and adjust the rating. Finally I review the 'Good' photos and rate any Best ones of the bunch (5 stars) .I only make adjustments to photos that are 'Good' or 'Best'. I delete the rest.

    I tag some (usually larger series of) photos but not each and every one. So like @Ludmilla, it takes me time to find single untagged photos from years back. Another cataloging features I've found useful is to keep photos that I take for different purposes (in logically) separate catalogs. Even though the 'keepers' are all physically in folders ordered by date. So I have separate catalogs for personal photography, voluntary photography, each major event, etc.

    If working with descriptive folder names were an app is works for you - and you can easily cull the non-keepers as you go, then tagging may not help you much. My Lightroom tags are usually of (groups of) people or places. An app is useful because it makes tagging easy. You can select and tag whole groups of photos from different folders. And an app like Lightroom (perhaps Bridge too) remembers previous tags.So typing the first few letters automatically brings up a tag suggestion that you can confirm. There are even AI apps on the market that 'suggest' tags based on the content of photos.


  8. I keep images with the number assigned by the camera in folders with a reverse date code and brief description, for example "D200614 Botanic Garden". With over 200,000 images in my library, I can still find a topic, even a particular image, within a few minutes.

    A reverse date code is sortable by default. I have a lot of folders with "Botanic Garden" in the name, but the date code makes each one unique, which is a prime directive in management of a relational data base. "D" for "Digital" is kind of redundant these days, but old habits are hard to break.

    Frame numbers roll over every 10,000 images, but it's unlikely that will ever create duplicates in the same folder. Shooting with two cameras, on the other hand, is likely to produce duplicates, so I customize the name with a camera identifier. The complete identifier is found in EXIF data, if that becomes important, and is searchable (in Lightroom).

    Does it matter which memory card was used? It's not like Velvia vs whatever. As soon as they're backed up (twice), I re-format and reuse the card anyway.

    Significantly, I store images manually before importing them into Lightroom. That way I'm in control, not some finicky program. Lightroom obligingly keeps them in the same folders (an option when importing).
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
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  9. Not dissimilar to mine Tony. Now of course, everyone is wondering what the hell is 'Cley'?!

    Cley next the Sea - Wikipedia
  10. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Actually refers to the marshes between Cley-next-the-Sea and Salthouse, managed for wildlife by the NWT - my favoured site for birding, as it's a mere 2 1/2 hours away by bus from Norwich.

    11-107_1206 - TONY0061 - Cley in the mist.jpg

    Cley - bit misty Friday.
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  11. I see no birds! ;)
  12. Dewey decimal system?
  13. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Nor did I ! Heard a few.
  14. Back to the question -- I still use a date, place, etc code in an old version of Adobe Bridge:
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  15. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    But at least I found the image i was seeking !

    To actually view all the images in any particular folder, when and if I need to, I use Irfanview or XnView, which also have both limited editing facilities and the ability to open the image in another editor, such as FastStone. These three (all free !) let me do all the editing I require.
  16. My library looks similar Conrad, and I feel the same about catalog software. However I do use the rating thing for 3/4/5 ratings. That is used to sort out items I want to have for on-line albums and as a "photo-channel" on our TVs. I dont' find we need anything more complicated than file explorer to keep track.
  17. Thanks for all the replies. The short answer seems to be, no I'm not missing anything, so I think I'll stick to what I have for the time being.
    Like Conrad I'm not a fan of editing programmes that automatically suck up your whole photolibrary without so much as asking you if you want that.

    One thing did cross my mind about ratings, and that is it might be useful when I wanted to do a 'slideshow' following a holiday or other event, At the moment, I just put the shots I might want to view into a separate folder called 'slideshow' and save these to a stick when I want to do this. This involves file duplication, which could be avoided if I rated the images (maybe only the images I wanted to slideshow) I could then sort these easily and save to the stick without duplication.
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  18. I can't speak for all editing programs but all that I've used allow you to disable any "automatic suck up". But horses for courses choose what suits you.
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  19. Luminar does have a "open images for quick edit" choice under the file tab, which is the way I use it. It's the previous version and it's good enough I might pay to upgrade it.
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  20. Digital media management is a subset of relational database management. It consists of two major parts with distinct sets of rules - Storage and Retrieval. The general concept is "Store once, retrieve many". Rules for relational database management were formalized in 1970 by E.F. Codd, an IBM employee. If you want to learn more, start here: Relational database - Wikipedia. Except for backup or distribution purposes, a given version of an image should be stored in only one location and used as needed.

    Lightroom can store (import) photos in a variety of ways. In the simplest form, you can insert a memory card in the computer, and Lightroom will read its contents and store the results in some default location. I prefer to store the images where I wish, then import them into Lightroom in their present location. Lightroom is an effective way to manage, retrieve and edit (non-destructively) images. That makes images available, but doesn't mean you have to use or display them all.

    I use Lightroom to selectively export images for other purposes, locking any editing into JPEG or TIFF format. I generally save them to a subdirectory under the main directory for the raw or master images. However you can assign images by reference (without making copies) to any number of "Collections". Collections can then by selectively synchronized in cloud memory with mobile devices and other computers. I use collections to create topical portfolios which I can display in an iPad. Collections can be assembled from any number of source directories, and images can be traced to their actual location if desired.

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