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I've decided that I really need to use keywords (or similar) to help with finding my photos and would appreciate some advice.
I currently have Photoshop (with Bridge) and Faststone (V3.5) on my PC.
This version of Faststone only allows tagging - ie. tagged or not. It doesn't enable a search by keyword.
I think Bridge enables keywords but haven't yet tried ....... please don't give up on me yet!
It will be a time consuming process to go back over my photos and keyword them so I want to be sure I start by doing the right thing!
All my photos are stored on my PC and/or external hard drive.
I only want to search JPG images.
I only want to search by keywords - with the option of more than one keyword per image.
I don't want to buy fancy/expensive software or download bulky programs.
Bridge is the obvious choice as I already have it - but what do people think of it? (It almost seems to do too much or is really that useful?)
Are there any other solutions you would recommend?
I will need to upgrade my PC in the next year or so, will whatever solution I opt for remember my keywords or will I have to do it all again?
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I have Photoshop Elements 9 which is fine for my needs, but I really don't like their Organiser which I assume is similar to Bridge. I find it very slow and cumbersome. So...I use Picasa for organising and searching. Free, simple and extremely quick.
Have you considered using contact sheets. It's much easier to see the photo you want than using words to find something when you have thousands of photos.
Wow! Contact sheets! Remember them?
But even then, you needed a very good manual filing system to find anything on them. I still have dozens of folders containing hundreds of contact sheets dating from about 1970. God knows if I could find the negatives again! Horses for courses, I suppose, but I could never go back to a manual system.
I have been using Lightroom since it first appeared on the market (now on v3) and, for my purposes, it is the perfect filing system.
When I import RAW files on to my computer from the memory card, I assign a keyword or two that will cover all of the subjects from the shoot. (For example, "winter" and "snow" ). Then when I am reviewing the images, I assign additional keywords to those I do not immediately delete. For example to give more precise details of subject, place, genre, etc.
Then I use the spray can tool to paint them into specific collections, for example "Landscapes", "Monochrome", "ArtyFarty", "Still Life", "Travel", "Family", etc., etc. Some. of course, may go into several collections.
And, of course, they also automatically go into the "All Photographs" collection plus smart collections like "Last Month".
Then, after post-processing (virtually 90% of my post-processing is done solely in Lightroom with only very few ever needing to go into Photoshop), I assign star ratings from 1 to 5 to each image.
That way, when I want to find a specific image or a range of images meeting common criteria, I can go into the appropriate collection (or "All Photographs" ) and immediately see all the images in that collection ranked from 5 downwards. Then, if I need to, I can search within the collection by keyword or any combination of keywords. Again, the selection made by keywords will be ranked by rating.
Lots of other searches can, of course, be made - e.g. by date or by camera or by lens used or by any of the many other parameters that are automatically logged in the metadata.
As I say, it's horses for courses but I find that system exceptionally effective and it suits my needs.
For advice on keywording this site is a good place to start.
My process is similar to leftforums. In light room I use keywording for place and people in the images and create collections and smart collections for additional grouping.
Thanks for the help so far!
At the moment I have a 'Best shots' folder on my PC which works pretty much like a contact sheet. The main problem with this is that as I'm improving the folder is getting bigger and at some point will be too big (hopefully!).
The Lightroom suggestion sounds interesting ..... does Bridge work in a similar way for the keywording side of things? Otherwise it seems that I'll be paying for (and filling up my PC!) with image editing software I don't need. (I use Capture NX)
Quote: The Lightroom suggestion sounds interesting ..... does Bridge work in a similar way for the keywording side of things?
Kind of similar, I think but there is one fundamental difference:
Bridge is fairly tide into the folders you have on your PC, lightroom frees you from the physicsal location of the files. So your "best shots" would become a collection, you don't have to physically move the photos into a seperate folder. Collections mean that the same photo can exist in multiple collections (best shots, web site shots, portfolio printts, competion entries,summer holiday 2009, etc) without having to be moved about. it is a lot more organized way of working which will save you disk space and headaches in the long run.
Quote: Otherwise it seems that I'll be paying for (and filling up my PC!) with image editing software I don't need. (I use Capture NX)
Once you have used it for cataloguing, it is fairly easy to switch to using Lightroom for development and a lot more convenient in a lot of ways. plus you get printing & website generation al as part of the package.
A couple of links comparing bridge & LR:
2 sums it up for me with:
Q. So why would I want to use Lightroom?
A. Itís way better than the Bridge.
Hmmm - very persuasive!
I need to think more about my needs as Lightroom sounds like a better long term solution - but is it 'too good' for me?!
Any thoughts on Picasa? It claims to find files you didn't know you had ..... it doesn't go re-organising your files does it?!
Will I find I end up tied into a system that becomes too restrictive? Or perhaps grows too much - but not in a direction that suits me?
Sorry to drag this on but I dont want to end up regretting hours of work wasted on a solution that isn't right for me.
Quote: ....but is it 'too good' for me?!
Once you get the concept of keywording sorted out and decided how far to go with them it is a very powerful / useful feature of LR.
I have tried to keep mine as simple as possible and to a minimum.
If photography is your profession then searching for specific images for clients, publications, stock libraries keywording would be more important ending up with perhaps a hundred or more per image !
That is not as daunting as it sounds, as one can set up keyword presets and then apply them to a batches of images either on import or later, as appropriate.
Another useful feature is Smart Collections which can be set up using Metadata / Keywords as the criteria, which if added to an image will then automatically add it to the collection.
I have one, for example, Wakehurst Place which adds images to the collection if Wakehurst Place is found in the sublocation metadata field.
Regardless of searching for images the prime consideration perhaps, should be the quality of the RAW Processing and the ease of "tweaking" the image, which of course LR has in abundance
There is a fundamental difference between the Bridge and Lightroom. Lightroom has a Catalogue which is actually a database and this stores information about each image as well as a thumbnail. The type of data stored includes the image EXIF, any LR Editing, Keywords, Rating, colour coding etc. Searches by LR are very fast so there is no real need to store images in separate folders. For example, I might search the 12,000 images in my main catalogue for Keyword: Landscape, Keyword: Spain, File Type: TIFF and it instantly finds 35 images. You can use most of the EXIF data in a search e.g. Camera Model, lens, date, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, GPS data etc. Compared to an image file all of this data uses a ralatively small amount of storage.
In comparision the Bridge does not have a catalogue (or database) so it has to open each file sequentially to check the data. My search above would probably take all day. The Bridge is only suitable for searching a relatively small number of images.
If you do buy LR for its powerful Catalogue and workflow, it is very good at editing too. I only use Raw files and do at least 70% of my image processing in LR with Photoshop for the remaining 30%.
On my PC I run Bridge, Photoshop & LR. Having read through all this I have just realised I never use Bridge. I only ever shoot in Raw and use LR to process the Raw image, catalogue, rate, crop and all minor modifications, I use Photoshop for all major modifications. To sum I probably use LR 90% to PS 10%. My suggestion would be start tagging in Bridge now until you get LR because when you change over it will carry all the tags over with it. The other benefit with LR is it never alters the original picture out of the camera, it just writes intructions for the computer to develop, so at any time you can go back to the original photo.
We use ACD Pro 3
It does anything you can imagine
Many thanks for all your help and suggestions.
I've decided to go with Bridge for now as I already have it and, as Chris helpfully told me, that the tags will carry over if/when I go to Lightroom. When my library grows more and presumably Bridge becomes too slow I'll probably upgrade to Lightroom.
Yes Mermaid, it might depend on which version of Bridge you have, when I was using the CS2 version is was very, very slow. Now I'm using CS5 it seems very fast. Since you have Bridge, unless you need the pre-processing for large numbers of similar files - can't see the need for the expense of LR.
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