Lightroom Q&A #1

We've had some great questions come in in response to Got Questions? Just Ask! I'll try to keep up so keep them coming! Let's dive right in...

Q: Do I need to use the Adobe Bridge at all if I have Ligthroom and CS4? How does Lightroom replace the bridge (I've never used it b4)?

A: Perhaps the most basic difference between Lightroom and Bridge is how each approaches file management. Lightroom is a database oriented approach while Bridge is a navigational approach. Bridge will show you all file currently resident on your drive. Lightroom only shows you files that you have specifically imported into the catalog. Furthermore, Lightroom only allows certain file types into the catalog (i.e. - photography related files such as JPEG, RAW, etc.)

Bridge was designed with support for the entire Creative Suite in mind and is an excellent resource for that. While it is true that you can reproduce a lot of the Lightroom functionality in Bridge, Lightroom provides a more focused and cohesive view of a photographer's workflow. There is a logical flow from module to module and action to action that is just not present in Bridge. If you have Lightroom and Photoshop or Photoshop Elements then you've got pretty much all you need for a full and complete photographic workflow and there is no need to ever open Bridge. However, if you also work with these files in Illustrator or InDesign or Flash or... then you will need Bridge. Bridge will make your life easier when working with multiple Creative Suite applications.

Q: I use stacks a lot and have found that the collections can get a bit out of whack because a consistent set of keywords are not kept on all images in the stack. This is of course due to the fact that the stack is compressed and then keywords modified. How can I get around this without always remembering to expand the stack? How can I expand the stacks with short cut keys for the entire folder I am working in? How can I propagate the keywords down the stack? Am I missing something?

A: No, you're not missing anything. If a stack is collapsed then keywording only applies to the top image in the stack.

Here's a keyboard sequence I use so I don't forget to expand stacks:

  • press Command A (Ctrl A on a PC) to select all images and stacks in the grid view
  • press S to expand all stacks (CAVEAT - if any stack is already expanded it will collapse so keep your eye on a collapsed stack. If it doesn't expand when you press S that means some other expanded stacks were collapsed by the keypress. If that's the case just press S a second time and now all stacks will be expanded)
  • press Command D (Ctrl D on a PC) to deselect all images so you don't inadvertently do something to all of them

Before I leave the group I repeat this sequence (Command A | S | Command D) to recollapse all my stacks.

Once you get used to it it takes a second to expanded all the stacks and get to work. You don't even think about it after a while.

Q: Might be such a simple answer but I have kelby's lightroom 2 book and still haven't found the answer. What are the white and black colored filters used for and how do you access them? I know the purple one doesn't have it's own number shortcut but I can't find any way to use the black or white ones.

A: In the metadata for each image is a field call LABEL.


There are three things that can go in here: standard labels, custom labels, or NO labels (i.e. blank).


If you click on the word LABEL you get a menu showing you the standard labels (red box added) and any custom labels (blue box added) used.

So with that in mind here is how the white and black boxes work. Click on the white box to filter out everything except images that have a custom label entered. So if LABEL is blank or it contains a standard label (red, purple, green, etc.) it will not show up. Click the black box to show only images whose label field is empty. The boxes are additive. so if BOTH are selected you will show images that either have a custom label OR an empty label field. It's another way to filter and work with your images.

Keep those questions coming! Remember you can email your question to or tweet using the hashtag #LRSQA.