Lightroom: Add virtual copy to existing Collections with a single click

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Collections are my view into the Lightroom database. Except for clearly ephemeral queries I retain all selections as a named collection. (While it is not my suggestion here, adding “properties” to collections would remind my 73 year old brain what, if anything, I was thinking when I created a collection.)

The selection for all exports/print/publish is saved as a collection. And I always save virtual copies to avoid making accidental output specific edits, such as crop aspect ratio, to other uses of an image. That is easy enough to do when creating the new collection. Unfortunately, it is a bit cumbersome to add copies of images to an existing collection. It shouldn't be difficult to implement Create and Add Virtual Copy to Target Collection, (Alt + B is not used). An equally useful feature would be a Replace Selection with Virtual Copy (in collections only). Anybody else think this would be useful.
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Jack Williams

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  • hopefull

Posted 4 years ago

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Rob Cole

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In my copy of Lr, virtual copies are always added to current collection when created.

But indeed: no way to add to a different collection when created (e.g. quick collection..). Although for quick collection, it's Ctrl-' b (in Windows) to create and add to "target" collection. Or to replace in current collection: Ctrl-' {left}{del}.., which is so easy and quick if it's something you do much, makes me wonder if I've understood this request properly (?) - are you talking about adding to a collection which is not the current collection, and not the target/quick collection?

Perhaps one reason others aren't feeling the lack of a single keystroke for it is that virtual copies are usually used for creating a different variation, e.g. black n' white version.., as opposed to a "clever" way to protect the master photo from inadvertent edits.. - snapshots and metadata are more common for such purposes.

Anyway, if you're serious about a solution right now, consider wiring up Alt-B (for example) to do what you want using AutoHotkey - I can help if you want.
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Jack Williams

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Whoa! Culture shock on steroids. My five decades as a System Architect/Engineer has warped my view of a database application which LR surely is (A very good thing!). But you have figured out what I was was trying to say. (BTW I just specified stuff. Actually writing applications was better left to others.)

A typical scenario goes like this: My wife wants 4x6 prints of something to carry around. So I assemble (usually a Quick) Collection of "those pictures" and save virtual copies before I change the lovingly cropped images to 4x6 pictures. Then we have requirements creep where she adds more. That's where I think it is a bit clumsy to create VCs then unselect the originals...

On the other hand, your AutoHotKey suggestion is brilliant! Thanks!!! I will look it probably after the holidays since management has assigned higher priority tasks. I will probably wind up asking for help (remember I just spec em I don't write em). Do you prefer I contact you at your website?

Thanks again.
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Rob Cole

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This is a good starter script for AutoHotkey:

http://www.robcole.com/LrForumSupport...

If you follow the examples, it will assure keystrokes only have effect if Lr main app has focus. So, for example, Alt-B won't do something unexpected if you have a different app selected.
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Jack Williams

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Excellent start! I'm sure this will work. The issue of hotkey only when LR window is in focus was one I anticipated but could not have worked out alone. In fact I have thought of a few other Hotkeys that would make life easier.

The use of snapshot to protect edits was clearly not a case I had thought of. I snapshot is on the list to features I have not tried and hence don't use. My scheme is based on the notion that a virtual copy is an entirely separate image that just happens to point to the same Master Image File. Since LR never alters the Master Image accidental damages is impossible. In my paranoid backup scheme not only are the master images on a dedicated disk mirrored by removable media stored locally and offsite but I also write protect those files.

I am happy with the hotkey solution if no one else endorses my "idea"
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Rob Cole

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Yeah, Lightroom never changes image data, but it will add xmp to some files.., so if you want to be sure your files stay virginal, you have to write-protect them (and not save xmp metadata).

But, making a virtual copy to go over a photo, whether that photo is raw or jpg or even another virtual copy is actually a clever way to protect it. The only thing is: folder stacks are not respected in collections - they have their own separate stacking, so images protected by a virtual copy (above in stack) are only protected in the source (e.g. folder) of origin, i.e. not in any other collections (unless of course you replicate the stackage there..).

For this reason, and others, snapshots are the most common way to record the final state of an image, so if there is an inadvertent change you have a way to get back. Of course snapshots don't help you discover such changes in the first place, and reversion has to be done 1-by-1..

Anyway, virtual copy or master - both are just records in a database (which refer to a source of image data on disk), BUT if you try to save xmp of a virtual copy, Lr won't try to save xmp of the master. So, there is that - virtual copies are not in xmp metadata, but snapshots are.

I just use the ChangeManager plugin I wrote (free), but such plugins are not for everyone..
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Jack Williams

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Ok, one of the policies I have set in the configuration and use of Lightroom is I do not save metadata back to image files. (Yes, it's a bit nerdy but I have generated a configuration document where I wrote down policies and their justification). The reasoning here includes: 1) Truth lies in the database where in my workflow Lightroom is the only place metadata is manipulated or used; 2)Exif is an arcane format that is brittle and especially the maker note easily corrupted; 3)It raises performance issues with not benefit I can see; and finally 4)This decision can be reversed if I become enlightened. Also I almost exclusively shoot RAW. And by policy with a similar line of reasoning do not convert them to DNG files. So Adobe wisely uses sidecar xmp files anyway.

Now I do not understand the folder stack issue. I assumed a collection is just a table of images (probably just the key for the entry in the main "all images" table) that are in the collection (or a query which which is a virtual table generated by a select). So an image and a virtual copy are distinct images. In fact, you might have both in a collection if that suited your purpose. So it sounds like you are warning me of something I don't understand.
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Rob Cole

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There was no "warning" per se - just trying to inform of the distinction between virtual copies and snapshots, and virtual copies vs. real copies, to reiterate:

* All edits are only stored in database whether copy is virtual or real (assuming you don't save xmp, and even if you do save xmp, the edits are just metadata in a sidecar, or embedded, depending on file format).

* Virtual copy metadata (xmp) can not be saved, snapshots can.

The part about stacks:

Stacks in folders are not respected in collections. - collection can have stacks too, but they are independent of the folder stacks. Thus if you cover a photo with a virtual copy in a folder, the same photo won't be covered by the virtual copy in a collection (without explicit manual intervention/action) - nor the vice versa.

So virtual copies don't make good covers, unless you only work with the photos in one source (e.g. folder or collection). That said, there are no metadata snapshots, only develop setting snapshots, so snapshots don't protect metadata, but virtual copies do.
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Jack Williams

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Thanks! I'm good now. Alt + B and another hotkey to kick off RichCopy to mirror additions to Master Image Files to removable disk right after LR import are up and running on my experimental Catalog. My process is to wring them out there before going live.