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Catalogs? Folders? Collections? vs. Aperture Projects

Mar 23, 2013 4:53 PM

Tags: #lightroom4 #aperture_3

Forgive my denseness. I'm an Aperture user who is looking at Lightroom 4.


One of the features that I like best about Aperture is the very simple Project paradigm. I'm an advanced amateur (I don't market my stuff, but once in a while a publication will stumble across one of my pics and license it. Like this one < m/>, which appeared in a nature guide recently). I photograph a wide variety of things--from tiny creepy-crawlies to birds to architecture to astrophotography to garden-variety family snapshots.


TMI there. My point is that I like the uncluttered list of Projects in Aperture's left column; it could hardly be simpler. Projects: Arachnids. Chicago Astro-Imaging Seminar. Product photos for Mr. NNNN....


Catalogs? Folders? Collections? Which of these, if any, is the equivalent of Aperture's simple list of Projects?


This one little bit of info will get me off to a good start. Thanks!


David Illig

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    Mar 23, 2013 6:47 PM   in reply to dewisant

    As I am not an Aperture user, I don't specifically know the answer to what is the equivalent of a Project (although I think I can guess)


    However, I can rule out Catalogs and Folders (explained in a second), leaving Collections and also keywords as the only possibilities.


    Why not folders? In my opinion, you don't use Folders to organize "projects" if you want to take advantage of the power of Lightroom, you use Lightroom constructs such as collections or keywords. The benefits of these are that they are virtual ... a photo can be in multiple collections, or be assigned multiple keywords (similar to the case where a photo is in several of your "projects"), and there is still only a single copy on your hard disk. If you use folders, then you would need multiple copies of any photo, the original and then one for project 1, another for project 2, etc.


    Why not Catalogs? In my opinion, catalogs are not meant to be organizing tools in Lightroom, they are simply databases. There are no functions that can search for photos, or perform any other operation, across multiple catalogs. Thus, the usual recommendation is that you put all of your photos into a single catalog. This is not only simpler, but it avoids many problems that would happen if your photos are in multiple catalogs. There is one exception: multiple catalogs work if the relevant subject matter in each catalog is completely non-overlapping with the relevant subject matter in the other catalogs (for example, business vs personal).


    Thus, I think we are left with using Collections as sort of a "Project" container, and keywords as the organizing tool. Assign your photos relevant keywords (and optionally captions), and then select the photos for specific projects and place them into a collection.

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    Mar 24, 2013 3:24 PM   in reply to dewisant

    Hi David


    I use both Aperture and Lightroom, vacillating between the two depending on which is peeing me off most this week.




    Aperture - Lightroom

    Library - Catalogue

    Project - (Filesystem) Folder or Collection (see below)

    Album - Collection

    Smart Album - Smart Collection


    There's no direct equivalent of an Aperture folder in Lightroom, except at the filesystem level. So your Aperture projects for 2013 may be in an overarching folder called "2013" and in the same way, LR can have a 2013 folder but that LR folder will be visible in your Finder/Explorer whereas Aperture folders are found only within Aperture.


    There's no reason, btw, why you can't organise LR according to "projects", it's just that most LR users seem to use the year-month ±day (filesystem folder) paradigm which is reflected directly in their LR folders. Incidentally, that's why files should only be moved within LR rather than through the Finder/Explorer. But if you wanted to, you could import into LR according to "project". I'm sure some do, too, especially wedding shooters.


    Another thing (that you're probably aware of) is that LR catalogues are completely referenced in nature, whereas Aperture libraries can be either managed or referenced. Of course, if you name your Aperture Projects by year/month in a referenced manner, then it's basically the same setup as LR using date hierarchy folders.


    Hwyl fawr

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    Mar 25, 2013 4:28 AM   in reply to dewisant

    The perfect photographic DAM app would combine Aperture's UI and metadata handling, Lightroom's Develop and Print Modules and Xee's image rendering speed.

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    Mar 25, 2013 6:13 AM   in reply to dewisant

    I can't imagine organizing my photos in any way except Projects or Collections, named for the event or subject and usually with a date in the name.

    We're all different. I can't imagine organizing the way you just described. In fact, for most people, I strongly recommend moving away from chronological or event organizing. Yes, wedding and event photographers should still organize chronologically if they want. (I recommend that you can still store your photos in chronological folders, but organize them by metadata).

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    Mar 25, 2013 11:08 AM   in reply to dewisant

    I assign keyword Thumper to the Thumper photos, keyword Wasps to the Wasps photos, and keyword Snow to the Snow photos. I don't use collections for this purpose at all.


    I don't bother adding a date because I can always use the Filter Bar to find Thumper photos taken on March 23, 2013.


    But here's the big issue that I see you are missing: when I said to avoid chronological organizing, it is because chronological organizing of the type you are doing is limiting. It is easy for you to find all photos of Thumper taken on March 23, 2013. You have only limited ability in LR to find all pictures of Thumper, regardless of date taken, doing it your way. If I want to do something with ALL of my Thumper photos, that's a few mouse clicks at most for me (open the Keyword List panel, click on the right arrow next to the keyword Thumper). If you want to do that, its more difficult. For me, it is also a very rare event when I want photos taken on a specific day, and even if I should need such a thing, there's no way I can remember what dates all of my 21000 photos were taken; but if I want to browse through all my photos of the Finger Lakes, or all my architecture pictures in Buffalo, NY, I don't know and I don't care what day the photos are taken, and I can find them quickly via keyword(s).


    Plus, I'm not spending the time adding dates to my collection names. It's a little thing, but it adds up (and using the Filter bar to access the EXIF date means I will never have typos in the date part of my collection name). Plus, I'm not creating a new collection every time I get new pictures of Thumper, which means I don't have to repeatedly create the collection, then type in Thumper followed by the date. Less work my way.


    Now, if you NEVER EVER EVER want to find all your Thumper photos, your only desired search is Thumper on March 23, 2013, then your method is probably fine. If you NEVER EVER EVER want to find all of your wasp photos, your method is probably fine.


    I have a question for you. Five years from now, you think back to these great pictures of Thumper you just took. When its 2018, are you really going to remember the date on which you took these photos? If not, how are you going to find these photos? Maybe your memory is a lot better than mine, as I know I would not remember the date of these photos, most likely I won't even remember the year.

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    Mar 25, 2013 5:19 PM   in reply to dewisant

    I dig what you are saying, and I do use keywords. In LR if I click on All Photographs and then select Text > Keywords > and type owl I find all of my photos of owls. Other keywords that are assigned to owls are birds, avian, and raptor. Ditto hummingbirds: birds, avian, hummingbirds and hummers. Am I correct in assuming that this search will only work properly if one is in Catalog > All Photographs?

    Keywords work with any left-side selection


    At the same time, I find it very convenient to visually scan the Collections list for Snow 130325.

    But you didn't answer my question. Five years from now, how are you going to know what collection you need to find for that specific photo of interest? How are you going to remember that this photo is stored in Snow 130325 when you search for it in 2018? Five years from now, what is the benefit of having 130325 as an organizational construct?

    You haven't said that you use Collections at all. Do you, and if so, how?

    Miscellaneous things, for example, I have a smart collection of all my 5-star photos; I have a collection of my "Best photos from Western NY", I put multi-day, multi-city trips in a collection (because a keyword won't get me all the photos, and I have no idea what days the photos were taken). But I don't make major use of collections.

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    Mar 26, 2013 4:18 AM   in reply to dewisant

    But a Collection might save me a bit of time if I remember that our historic two-meter snowfall occurred in 2010—and I if I forget that I will probably have also forgotten how to make a photograph by that time and it won't matter.

    You have not answered the question I asked. Now, yes, I agree, most people can remember the year that major events happened. But that's not what I asked.


    One of your examples was a collection named Thumper 130323. This is not a major event. If you are like me, you have many photos of your pets, taken on many different days. And a collection named Thumper 130323 might be something who's meaning is obvious for a few weeks after you take the photos. But human memory is not good at retaining details like full dates of events that happen often, which is distinctly different than the year of a major event, and eventually you forget the exact date of these photos. If you were to look me in the eye and say that yes indeed you remember the dates of all 10,000 of your photos (or however many you have), I would look right back at you and say honestly, I don't believe you, prove it.


    In my opinion, collections with names like Thumper 130323 are useful for a few weeks, while your brain retains the memory of what photos were taken on this date. After that, it is a useless collection name, that simply clutters up (and makes much longer) a list of collections. My goal in organizing is to make it possible for me to find photos not only shortly after they were taken, but to enable me to find those photos for the rest of my life, taking into account the fact that everyone's memory fades over time. If, five years from now, I want a photo of one of my pets, I won't remember the date the photo was taken, and so I don't waste my tame adding a date to a small collection of photos taken of that pet. I organize with other ideas in mind. I would have to use the keyword (or keywords plural) to find the photo I am interested in. This approach has worked well for me, over many years, and to get there, I do less work than you do, and I do not clutter up my collection list with collections whose meaning will disappear over time. As you can see, I dislike organizing via calendar dates, as I feel it won't work for me in the long run, and I feel it won't work for most people in the long run. The only time it will work is, for example, wedding or event photographers, where there is an independent mechanism (such as a billing database, or yes, people will remember the date they were married) to recall the dates.

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    Mar 29, 2013 2:54 PM   in reply to dewisant

    I am not a professional either. I enjoy browsing through my old photos as well. And I don't need to create any collections with names of the format "Thumper 130323" to get there, I don't need to type in information "130323" that will be effectively useless to me in a year's time. In fact, I don't need to create collections at all for this purpose. I can call up the photos by keyword, and scroll up or down to move through time. And so I can enjoy what my pet looked like on 130323 (although honestly, that question would never enter my mind), and not need the work of creating a specific collection to get there.


    Regarding Kelby, I am not a fan. I have said before, and now I say it again, that I disagree with virtually everything he says about organizing. I believe his advice about organizing is off the mark, misleading, and/or just plain bad advice. He doesn't seem to recognize that Lightroom offers the ability to do an entirely different type of organizing than you would do if the only tool you had was folders and file names. I have read his books and for a while I read his blog, and its just not in there, and he is disdainful of using metadata for organizing. Yes, he does teach the mechanics of adding keywords; he doesn't explain that Lightroom allows you to achieve a different kind of organization.


    But I think we've gone far enough on this topic. If it works for you, then that's all that matters. I was responding because you asked how I do things.

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