Lightroom: Build thumbnails and full-size exports simultaneously

It would be great if Lightroom could string export presets together, to perform operations sequentially or simply to perform several processes on one image to produce several different outputs.

The first use I’d put to this functionality would be generating thumbnails of exported images right along-side the full-sized image — a common task when producing images to upload to a blog, for example.

Absent that kind of flexible functionality, here’s a nice solution for generating thumbnails of images and full-size exports at the same time. Use Jeffrey Friedl’s Run Any Command plugin in conjunction with mogrify: Just insert “run any command” to an existing export preset, and then add the following as the Command to Run (assumes you have LR2/Mogrify installed, which of course you do):

cp '{FILE}' '{NAME}'-small.JPG ~/Library/Application\ Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Plugins/LR2Mogrify.lrplugin/LRMogrify.extras/mogrify -resize 50% '{NAME}'-thumbnail.JPG

The command makes a copy of your original image (which is available to “run any command” plugin via the {FILE} token), with “-small” appended to the filename, and then uses mogrify to resize the copy to 50%. You can optionally adjust the percent to scale or add a “-quality” option to the mogrify command.

You could perform this command more cleanly, without the copy step, if you have ImageMagick installed independently of LR2/Mogrify: The full IM package includes the “convert” command, which allows for output to a new filename. Since I didn’t want to separately install ImageMagick, I just make a copy of the file and then invoke mogrify via the path to the plugin.

Presto! Instant thumbnails, appropriately named, to accompany your export. Pretty good stuff, made possible by the great work of Jeffrey Friedl. Check out all his lightroom goodies.

Lightroom tips keep coming

Between Scott Kelby and John Beardsworth, these two lists of Lightroom tips provide lots of useful pointers:

Kelby’s tip about “solo mode” is pure gold. I’ve been using it for a while now and it’s a super way to work. I’m not sure about the keywords tips, though: Both Scott and John caution against keywords and nesting keywords; while I agree that finding a way to use consistently use keywords (and metadata in general) is important, I haven’t run into problems of too many of them, quite yet. Periodically taking a keyword inventory and identifying duplicates has helped keep my catalog relatively clean (and me relatively sane).

Today's Lightroom quick tip: Targeted adjustment shortcuts

It’s nice to keep learning things about Lightroom. It tends to have solutions for problems long before I realize that I need them, and so I was happy to find this morning that it has handy shortcuts for all the targeted adjustment brushes.

  • shift-alt-cmd-N: None (cancel adjustment)
  • shift-alt-cmd-T: Tone adjustment
  • shift-alt-cmd-H: Hue adjustment
  • shift-alt-cmd-S: Saturation adjustment
  • shift-alt-cmd-L: Luminance adjustment
  • shift-alt-cmd-G: Grayscale mix

Activating any shortcut will jump your develop panel to the appropriate controller, so you can keep your cursor focused on the image and still see the effects of your adjustments in the sliders or levels. It’s a nice, efficient way to minimize extra mouse movement and make quick modifications.


Check out the rest of my Lightroom posts for much, much more, including more database tinkering, keywording, and workflow.

Always more to learn about Lightroom

I’ve been reading the comments thread of this great post at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider blog. It’s absolutely chock full of concise tips for getting more out of Lightroom, and it drives home to me that there’s always lots, lots more to learn.

Here’s my favorite new-to-me tip (Thanks, Scott!): Did you know Lightroom 2 has a ‘solo mode’? It’s a really fantastic way to eliminate scrolling up and down through the set of side panels. Ctrl-click beside a panel’s name and select ‘solo mode’ to turn it on, and then only the currently-selected panel will be expanded. Select any other panel’s name to auto-expand it while collapsing the prior panel. In conjunction with using cmd-1 through cmd-7 to toggle panels, it’s (to me) a nearly unbeatable way to navigate the panels with minimal mousing. (Note this works in both Library and Develop modes.)

Relative sized borders in Lightroom 2

I’m sure the rest of you figured this out ages ago, but it was a new realization to me. In addition to supporting multiple, different borders per image, the LR2/Mogrify border options for Lightroom 2 allow for borders to be applied on three metrics: pixel size, percent of height, and percent of width. That allow, for example, for easy application of letterbox-style top and bottom borders without needing to pay any attention to the cropped dimension of your image.

Screenshot - selecting fixed-percentage borders in Lightroom 2/LR2 Mogrity

The plugin default is in pixels; just switch to percent and you’re off. Something in the range of 10-12% of height seems to suit my eye pretty well.

Quick and easy curved borders in Lightroom 2

The post-crop vignette function in Lightroom 2 has much more flexibility than the comparable tool in Lightroom 1 — it’s made to allow for creative use of vignette rather than simply correcting lens vignetting. And you can put it to use to create quick and easy curved frames without calling on any external tools or plugins like LR2/Mogrify.


The above image has a white curved border applied by using the following vignette settings:

Lightroom 2 -- post-crop vignette settings

The trick to the curve is the right combination of midpoint and roundness — adjust to taste. And the hard edge of the vignette comes from setting “feather” to zero. To make a black border? Just slide “amount” all the way to -100.

You can make a preset for both white and black versions: Click the big plus button in the preset pane, and select only the post-crop vignette setting to save. Do one for both black and white borders, and you’re good to go.

Quick and easy!

Quick Lightroom 2 Tip: Show untagged images

I haven’t used Lightroom 2’s library filter extensively, but it’s really pretty powerful and I found a good use for it this morning. Having tagged a big batch of new images somewhat helter-skelterly, I found myself wondering if I could view just the images that I had not yet tagged, so that I could take care of them and be all done with this round of keywording. The library filter does this handily:

lightroom 2 metadata browser - setting presets

Open the filter pane (hit \ to activate and deactivate it), then select the “text” controller, and set it to “Keywords” “Are Empty”, and there you go: Lightroom 2 will display just the untagged images in the current view. Very handy, and the display will update as you proceed to tag, slipping newly-tagged images out of view.

I saved this library filter view as a preset using the dropdown controller available in the upper right of the pane, so I can quickly retrieve it any time I like.

Update: I see the following in a good post over at the O’Reilly Lightroom blog:

One of the example smart collections that is installed with Lightroom is Without Keywords. Take a look at the image count for this collection. If it’s anything other than 0 then get in there and add some keywords!

Nice! I haven’t much explored smart collections. That built-in collection is a great find.

Good Apps: 1Password

1Password is a password manager for OSX that performs smart form completion in your web browser. In the not-quite-a-year since I bought it, I’ve used it, in one way or another, just about every day. To make a long story short, it’s made simple, easy work of everything I do that involves a web password, login, or account information. And in that year, the software has only become more capable, adding increasingly simple syncing and great support for iPod/iPhone.

In a nutshell, here’s what 1Password does: It pays attention to the web forms you fill out — the login at the power company, for example — and, if you give the word, saves the information you enter into that form to a password-protected keychain (it knows when you’re filling out a new form, and prompts you for the okay to save it). Later, when you return to that form, logging in is as simple as a quick tap of a keyboard command: hit cmd-\ and 1Password fills in and submits the form, and boom there you are looking at your power bill, without any looking up your account number or anything.

I’m not using the power bill example for nothing. Paying bills is where, for me, the huge payoff of this app is: By removing all the overhead of looking up logins (finding the last bill for the account number or something), 1Password has massively reduced the overhead of managing my bills. See, it doesn’t just save your logins, it keeps a list that helps you to manage them. From that list it’s two clicks to select and log in to any given form, so checking all my statements, bills, and accounts is a simple matter of scrolling through the list and opening up any accounts that I think I might need to check. To check my credit card, for example, I used to have to pull out the card and type in the number, which inevitably took place on a sunday morning in the wintertime when I’m wearing my slippers and it’s snowing. The mental process was something like, “where’s my wallet? Oh, the briefcase. Wait, it’s still in the car. And the car is in the driveway with six inches of snow on it. I’ll do that later.”

And now? I skim the list in 1Password, click the name and then click the web form login to check my balance, make a payment — for every single bill or account I have. It’s too easy, so I just check in that Verizon bill any time I wonder how I’m doing. And about every three weeks I just run down the list and check all the accounts that involve money. Honestly, it’s awesome.

And of course it handles all those logins for social networking, webmail, my usermin control panel, mailing lists, and so forth. In fact, I let 1Password store just about every single login I have; when it’s so easy to save with the app, why take up any mental space with keeping a login that might be a one-off, after all? And beyond passwords, it keeps all kinds of other information, making it able to smartly fill in things like credit card payment forms. Further, it saves other “wallet” items (like passport numbers) and “smart notes” (ssh passwords).

With the mobile 1Password app for iPhone/iPod Touch, all of this information is accessible on the go. Agile built a web browser that’s highly — but not perfectly — functional for most uses, and it lives inside the app where it accesses your login information directly. Previously, Agile had built a wonky workaround to make that information accessible via a Mobile Safari bookmarklet that synced via Safari bookmarks to the iPod/iPhone. I have to admit that I’m still pretty fond of this approach, and although 1Password doesn’t update the bookmarklet any longer (removed for security reasons?), they can pry that bookmarklet from my cold dead hands. For one thing, Wells Fargo doesn’t like their browser one bit, recommending that I install Safari for Panther instead.

Multiple Macs? 1Password can deal. Just sync your 1Password keychain (either the OSX keychain or the new “Agile Keychain” format) and you’re good to go. For the past ten months, I used Unison to handle this syncing, but just recently switched to Dropbox, and it works like a charm to keep everything updated on both my current machines.

Finally (I know, I know), the single time I’ve needed to contact the folks at Agile for some tech support, they were on the issue promptly and responded personally. Nice.

What doesn’t 1Password do? It’s a short list. Logins for some sites — for my account with ING, and my mortgage account, for example — just elude its ability to detect and autocomplete. So it’s not perfect on that score, but it’s awfully good. Update Oct 25: Thanks to Carl at Agile Web Solutions, I have an answer to at least one of those tricky sites. Thanks, Carl! And I would love if it were capable of filling in items in Terminal, like those ssh passwords, but I think the devs have wisely focused on making it speak smartly to web browsers instead of a longer list of apps.

So. 1Password is really, really good stuff. Check it out.

Dealing with duplicate keywords in Lightroom 2

I’ve noted recently how slick it is to be able to use nested keywords in Lightroom: It’s a piece of cake to select a set of photos, hit cmd-K, and enter “mount humphries > mountains” to assign the “mount humphries” as a child keyword of “mountains”.

However, as noted by a poster to a thread about keywording over on the Flickr Lightroom group, this creates a potential problem: If the child keyword is already used, Lightroom 2 will end up creating a duplicate keyword; you’ll end up with one “mount humphries” without a parent, and one “mount humphries” keyword with the parent of “mountains.” So, by trying to be hierarchical with your keywording, you’ve actually splintered your keywords. Not helpful!

Having already found a fun way to explore relationships between and frequencies of my keywords, it occurred to me that I might have some ready-made tools to help with this situation: The need to find and deal with duplicate keywords.

As this article became more popular, I worked through a couple of alternative methods and organized things a bit further. To date, I describe three methods of identifying duplicate keywords:

  • Full auto: Requires some scripting but is the most expedient way to go about it (and my favorite).
  • Semi-auto: Requires the awk tool to identify duplicates but doesn’t rely on any sqlite3 code to pull from the LR database.
  • Full manual: Uses LR’s built-in export tool and MS Excel to get what you want. Lots of steps, but it works.

After finding your preferred method, read on to see what to do with all the duplicates you identify.

The full auto/scripted method

Thanks to Dieter for putting me on to a much quicker, straightforward way to identify duplicates using SQLite only — no awk:

select count(name) as num, name from AgLibraryKeyword group by name having num > 1

I’ve kept the original SQLite+awk method below for posterity:

First I needed to find any duplicates created — potentially — by the ad-hoc nesting of keywords. A quick modification to my keyword frequency script produces a list of dupes:

# display a list of duplicate keywords in Lightroom 2 cp ~/Pictures/Lightroom/Lightroom\ 2\ Catalog.lrcat ~/lightroom.lrdb /usr/local/bin/sqlite3 -csv ~/lightroom.lrdb 'select ImageCountCache, name from AgLibraryKeyword;' > /Users/alan/lr-keywords.csv awk -F , '{print $2}' lr-keywords.csv | sort -n | uniq -d rm ~/lightroom.lrdb rm ~/lr-keywords.csv

As with the frequencies, this short script makes a backup copy of my Lightroom 2 database, then calls on sqlite3 to extract the list of keywords; the difference is in the 4th line, where I use awk to pull out the tags and then pipe them through two built-in unix functions to print a list of any duplicates. In my case, it yielded the following:

Running the duplicate keyword script

Perfect! A list of keywords that appear to be duplicates.

Note: The script above works with OS X Tiger and requires an upgrade to the default version sqlite. It ought to work with Leopard as long as sqlite is present. Windows? Don’t know; either via cygwin or separate binaries, awk and uniq should be available for Windows, and there is a sqlite for Windows download at the above link.

Skipping the sqlite step

Update 17/Dec/2008: If you’re not eager to delve into sqlite, you can still make this work, but you’ll still need to have the awk tool. OS X users, you should be good to go, since awk comes with the OS; Windows users, you can download awk for Windows. First, manually export your keywords list from your catalog: Metadata > Export Keywords…, and save the file as lrkeywords.txt, and then run the following one-liner script from a shell/terminal:

awk 'BEGIN {FS = " "}; {$2 = $2; if (match($0, /{/)0) print}’ lrkeywords.txt | sort -n | uniq -d

Just as in the sqlite version, this one-liner parses your keywords file and returns the list of keywords that appear more than once and are not identified as synonyms. You can then reconcile the duplicates as described above. I prefer the single-step version that extracts directly from the database, but hope this is useful to a few folks.

The Full Manual Process

If you’re averse to both the sql steps and to using awk, you can use MS Excel to identify the duplicates. I think it’s far more cumbersome than either of the above processes, but it works. Here goes:

Manually export your keywords from Lightroom: Metadata > Export Keywords ….

Open that export file in Excel: Open as a text delimited file, but uncheck all the delimiters; you don’t want excel to parse along spaces or tabs, since both of those characters appear in the file but not as record separators.

You should see a single column of keywords something like this:


We need to slightly clean up that column to remove leading whitespace. We’ll use the CLEAN function to do that: In the column next to your keywords column, enter the formula =clean(a1), and then drag that formula all the way down the keywords column.


In col B, you now have a whitespace-trimmed set of keywords, but because of the clean() formula, you can’t manipulate it further. Select that entire column, copy it, and then use paste special to paste the column as values into column C.

screenshot - cleaning up keywords list with paste special

Now we’re ready for the final steps: Sort, flag, and filter. Select column C, then go to Data > Sort, and sort ascending by column C. Now, in column D, drag the following formula from the first row to the last: =IF(C2=C1, "!", "").

screenshot - applying the duplicate flag formula to the sorted list

That just fills the column with a flag if column C has a duplicate. It’s a low-budget search, but it works as long as the list of keywords is sorted. Finally, use Data > Filter > Autofilter, and click-select the ! in column D. You’ll now have a filtered list of duplicates from your original keyword list, which you can resolve as described above. Note that you’ll have a number of keywords surrounded by {} or [] brackets; these are keywords entered as synonyms or categories, and you should ignore them when you are addressing duplicates.

screenshot - the list of filtered duplicate keywords

You can see from my current duplicate list that I’ve been working heavily on food-related keywords as we cruise through the holiday season.

All told, that whole manual process should just take a couple of minutes once you have the steps sorted out. Because the steps are manual, it’s not as easily-repeatable as the automated sqlite+awk approach, but it does work. I hope someone finds it useful!

Dealing with the duplicates

Whatever method you’ve employed, at this point you have a list now — let’s check out if it means what I think it means. Switching back over to Lightroom, I can filter for all photos with the “mount humphries” keyword:

Lightroom listing duplicate keywords

Sure enough, I have 12 images tagged with “mount humphries”, and 11 images with the same tag set as a child of “mountains” (as an aside, I see that I have well over a hundred images with the “mountains” tag that could probably use some more granular tagging).

My first impulse was to try to just drag the non-child “mount humphries” into the “mountains” tag; this works, after all, with other keywords. But in this case, it won’t do the trick, presumably because there is already a “mount humphries” keyword there — Lightroom won’t let me add a same-named child.

To reassign the keyword to the parent, you need to take a few more steps: First, click the right-pointed arrow to the right side of the duplicate, non-child keyword; this will navigate to all images assigned that keyword. Then, in the grid view, simply select all (cmd-A), and then check the child keyword to add it to all of the selected images (the checkbox is to the left of the keyword, and appears when the mouse cursor hovers over the keyword), and you’ll see the count increase accordingly. Next, un-check the duplicate, non-child keyword in the keywords panel. You’ll see its count drop to 0. The order of those two check-uncheck steps is important: If you uncheck the non-child keyword first, you’ll end up with an empty selection and nothing to apply the proper keyword to.

Lightroom displaying duplicate keywords unchecked

There! My “mount humphries” keyword as a child of “mountains” is now assigned to all 23 original images, and I can delete the duplicate, non-child tag.

So, with an approach like this, ad-hoc keyword nesting shouldn’t be feared: We can identify duplicates created by nesting, and, in a matter of seconds, apply the same nesting to any previously-tagged images. And, once you’ve resolved the duplicate, any further assignment of the focal keyword will always assign it, appropriately, as a nested tag. Pretty slick, I do say.

A Lightroom 2 workflow for the rest of us

(Welcome to readers coming via the nice link from the Lightroom team at Facebook! Consider checking out the rest of my Lightroom writing.)


While Lightroom gets a lot of love from professionals who take a thousand photos at an event and need to manage a paying production workflow, it’s also great for enthusiast-level users like me: I usually work on the scale of a weekend’s or a trip’s worth of photos that need organization, a place to live, some pruning and keywords, and whatever sorts of RAW workup that’s necessary. Last week I wrote up a few general Lightroom tips with some vague intention of documenting a practical workflow; here are two high-level elements of my workflow: Import/File structure and metadata/keywords.

Import and file structure: I shoot in RAW and use Lightroom to import photos directly from the SD card via USB card-reader. Lightroom presents a number of options for storing those imported files: In the past I put imported photos in by-day folders, meaning one directory for each file date. So, for a handful of days’ worth of photos I’d have a hierarchy of directories like 2008-09-01, 2008-09-02, and 2008-09-03. I’ve recently switched to a storage option that, so far, I really prefer: I import photos to a single directory based on import date rather than file date, with a descriptive suffix to that directory. The nice upside to this approach is that a weeks’ worth of photos — a five-day trip somewhere, for example — all end up in a single directory, and can all be viewed and processed as a set (without having to put them all into a collection). Since Lightroom is so handy with metadata, I don’t lose anything by stepping up in granularity from by-day storage to by-import storage. Additionally, having fewer directories hanging around makes it easier both to backup and to browse my photo file tree with other applications.

Below is a screenshot to illustrate the import and directory naming stage:

Lightroom Import Dialog

On import, I assign a metadata preset and whatever keywords are applicable to the entire import set of photos.

After import is a first pass to identify picks and rejects and assign keywords, which I described last time around: Set grid mode to a large-ish preview size, and use shift-P and shift-X in grid mode to mark any clear favorites and rejects. After that pass, it’s keywording/metadata time.

  • Metadata: Lightroom has two-dozen or so non-keyword metadata fields that, frankly, I don’t have much use for. I tend to use only a few of them (in the “Image” metadata category) to assign geographic location of photos taken: I have metadata presets for common locations, and I assign the rest on an ad-hoc basis. At export time, some of this metadata is included as keywords, so my exported photos end up with, at least, city and state information attached.
  • Keywords: You can keyword forever in Lightroom. I start keywording with a single keyword set that broadly covers my most common uses (The “edit keyword set” function is accessed in the Keyword Set menu in the right-hand Keywording panel): I call this one “Common/Home”, and it contains, among other keywords, “Heather”, “dogs”, “flickr”, and “food” tags. I know the order of these tags and can quickly make assignments with alt-num combinations. With my “Common/Home” set active, alt-7 tags a photo with flickr, alt-8 with Heather, for example. Wondering what your common keywords are? Try exploring your database for common lightroom keywords, and take advantage of nested keywords and keyword hierarchies for the greatest efficiency in assigning keywords.
  • In Lightroom 2, the related keywords function adds a whole new dimension to commonly-used tags. Once you’ve assigned one or two from a preset menu (as above), you’ll get a set of keyword suggestions, as well. Lightroom 2 really does facilitate both identifying and applying keywords in a useful way.
  • On applying keywords: As with metadata, I’ve found it most useful to reduce the size of previews in the grid window and apply keywords in groups to a selected set of images first (as many as possible; ctrl-click (shift-click for a range) or shift-arrow with keyboard to select multiples), and then step through photos one-by-one, adding additional keywords as needed.
  • Lightroom lets you display keywords for a given image in a number of ways. I like to keep the keyword display set to “will export” — That’s generally the most complete display of the tags assigned to a given image, including synonyms and parents.

Possible items for next time? Super-basic RAW development, exporting, and collections: See my intro to RAW development!

Photography: Hitchhiker's Guide to Lightroom

I spend a lot of time in Lightroom 2 these days. I’m nobody’s pro, but I shoot a lot of photos, and after having used Lightroom (and now Lightroom 2) for a while now, I think I have a pretty good, simple, enthusiast-style workflow sorted out. I’ll summarize the workflow itself (importing through working up images) in follow-up post. Here are a few general tips that seem to work well for me:

Essentials, or Stuff I use constantly: I use Picks and keywords extensively. Reviewing newly-imported photos, I mark anything that I like right off the bat as a Pick by simply hitting shift-P as I scan through the gallery (and shift-X to immediately mark others as rejects; the shift modifier will mark the current photo and move on to the next shot). As I revisit a set of shots later, I find myself repeating this process; while those subsequent passes primarily identify further Rejects, I do occasionally find more Picks after starting to work up other photos. After each pass through a gallery, I use cmd-DELETE to remove (and delete) all the Rejects.

This has been a nice insight for my process: It means that I am fairly conservative when it comes to Rejects. That is, I don’t mark as Rejected 1) unless a photo is obviously bad (bad focus, blur, composition I really dislike, etc.) OR 2) until I’ve spent some time on photos in a set that I do like right from the get-go. This frequently helps give me a sense for appealing qualities of photos that I might not have noticed or thought of initially.

With a gallery through at least a first pass of identifying Picks and Rejects, I apply keywords. As with many aspects of processing photos, Lightroom has lots of ways to do this. There’s a jobber called Keyword Painting that I don’t use, because it’s always been much faster to simply select sets of photos and then apply keywords to the selection. In Lightroom 2, cmd-K focuses on the keyword entry box, which will auto-complete as you type. Lightroom 2 also has “recommended keywords” functionality, so that as keywords are assigned to a photo or set of photos, a new set of co-occurring keywords is identified and displayed for easy additional assignment.

Although I like to use a large-ish image preview (hit = to increase the size of preview images in the gallery grid) for screening for Picks and Rejects, for keywords I like to shrink the grid size (keyboard shortcut -). This fits more images into the grid and allows me to select larger sets for group assignment of keywords.

Lightroom allows for keywords to be nested, and there’s a great shortcut for accomplishing this: When entering keywords, separate child from parent keywords with a > sign: flickers > birds, for example, or burgers > food.

Simplifying, or Things I don’t use in Lightroom: Beyond keywording, Lightroom has at least a trio of way to identify and categorize photos: You can flag photos as Picks, label them with colors, and rate them with zero through five stars. I don’t use colors or stars at all. They may be highly useful for some situations, but they just clutter the cognitive space where I think about my photos: “Is this a three-star green photo, or a four-star blue one?” So except in the rarest circumstances, I haven’t yet found a use for ratings and color labels.

Indispensable keyboard shortcuts: There are grundles of these, but the shortcuts I use all the time are:

  • G, E, D: Gallery, Editor, and Develop modes
  • P: Mark as Pick (modify with shift)
  • X: Mark as Reject (modify with shift)
  • cmd-delete: Remove Rejects (optionally delete from disk)
  • cmd-K: Assign keywords
  • W: Jump to White Balance selector in Develop mode
  • R: Crop tool in Develop mode
  • J: Show clipped darks and highlights (Developer only; in gallery, changes display of thumbnails)
  • L: Cycle the lights (view on black)
  • tab/shift-tab: reveal/hide menu panels

Next time: The library filter, file organization, workflow, and Lightroom+Flickr?

Frames and borders with Lightroom 2

Update 7/26/2009: There are some fantastic new features of LR2/Mogrify to check out:

  • Relative-sized borders (which I’ve written about before) are super.
  • As is relative-sized annotation text. No more calculating your scaled text size to apply to an export, since you can set the size to a percentage of image width or height. Very cool. (This goes for watermarks, too)
  • More border features! A checkbox for “identical borders” makes it much easier to set uniform borders. And inner borders are now supported for the creation of an inset frame with variable opacity.
  • Setting compression by file size: Specify a file size and LR2/Mogrify will compress the image accordingly so as not to exceed that file size.

Give these a try and don’t forget to donate to Timothy’s work if you find it of use.

Also, note that you can use Lightroom’s post-crop vignette feature to generate curved borders (in black or white) with less flexibility but also without plugins.

Update 12/21/2008: Much of this writeup now has more historical than practical value, since Timothy Armes has updated LR2/Mogrify to support multiple border options within the plugin’s own control panel. You can specify different-sized frames & borders without any extra monkeying around. Nice work, Tim!

A question recently came up in one of the Lightroom groups over on flickr about creating images with large borders on just one side — space within a frame to place a title, for example, but just along a single edge of an image. The poster wanted to create images such as those found here, and wondered if it was doable without diving out to an external tool like Photoshop. The first working proposal was to use a graphical frame applied in the print module, but that isn’t an ideal solution for me; it still requires setting up that frame with something like Photoshop, and to apply it you have to switch modes. So I tinkered a while with a photo I took a couple of nights ago, and managed to get what I think is a nice solution via a direct export from Lightroom using the fantastic LR2/Mogrify plugin from Timothy Armes.

The out-of-the-box options for this plugin don’t provide a capability to create different-sized borders to an image, but the underlying engine for the plugin, Imagemagick’s mogrify tool, does — after a fashion. So, in a nutshell, the trick is to use the command line element of LR2/Mogrify in addition to its other features, to add to the picture’s canvas size before performing the other operations.

Monte Vista neon

There are just a couple of tricks to get this to work smoothly using LR2/Mogrify. First is to add the extent command to the mogrify configuation, specifying the resulting size of the image you want to export:

I’ve specified the command -background white -extent 3008×2158 to be prepended to the mogrify command line that LR2/Mogrify will execute for me. I’m exporting an original image that’s 3008×2008, so I’ve specified 2008×2158 to the final image — adding 150 pixels, which will be filled with a white background. Next I use the built-in features of LR2/Mogrify to add the colored frames and the text overlay.

Because the extent command was applied to the beginning of the command line, the borders will be applied to the new image — the one with the bigger lower border created by extent.

The text overlay is just a bit strange. Note that instead of specifying the text to fall at the bottom, I’ve placed it at the top center of the image, with an offset of 2158 pixels. For some reason, directly placing it at the bottom center reverses the position of the new white border — it ends up at the top of the image, through some kink of mogrify that I can’t quite sort. It’s easy enough to compensate with the offset.

Export away, and that’s all it takes. You’ve built an image with a nice broad frame and caption, all right from Lightroom’s export panel. No Photoshop or print module necessary. Fun.

About, the short version

I’m a sociologist-errant. This site is powered by Textpattern, Pair Networks and the sociological imagination. For more about me and this site, see the long version.

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