Lightroom: Stacking in folders and collections should be global

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Stacks should be handled uniformly, regardless of the source selected. As it stands, stacks are second-class citizens in Lightroom.

* Currently, photos in different folders can’t be stacked. This restriction forces users to be aware of which folder a photo resides in, which goes against the mainstream digital-asset-management philosophy of hiding folder locations. I don’t know of any use-case justifying this restriction.

* Stacking isn’t displayed when viewing collections and smart collections. This is especially annoying when viewing smart collections, since smart collections are the only way to do advanced searching. It would be better if stacks were viewable within collections just as they are within folders and with filtering – when more than one photo in a stack is part of a collection, then the stack could be collapsed or expanded, but only the photos in the collection will be shown. This is the way stacks work now with filtering, so extending this to collections would be consistent. Users who don’t want to see stacking in collections could simply invoke Expand All Stacks.

* And of course, you should be able to stack and unstack photos when viewing a collection.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Posted 9 years ago

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Second what Johan said. This thread has been going on for 9 years. Stacks have evolved a little, but there are clearly quite a few users who have a good use case for them being global, particularly with the rise of panoramas, HDR and focus stacking. There is no reason this has to replace the current folder specific functionality, Call it Global Stacks and Local Stacks, or name it something entirely different. It's time for Adobe to step up.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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"stacking was originally conceived as a tool for reviewing and presenting the best of a group of images on top of the stack...people soon started using stacks to implement a persistent connection or relationship between images... clash between these two concepts"

I agree there's a clash between two concepts, reviewing and presenting versus grouping similar renderings of the same photo. But I'm skeptical that stacks were originally intended primarily for reviewing and presenting.  

LR 2 had many stacking features designed for grouping renderings of the same photo: Photo > Edit In, Create Virtual Copy, Export's Add To Stack, Auto-Stack By Capture Time (for brackets and continuous bursts).  Stacks were restricted to a single folder, limiting their usefulness for general reviewing and presenting. It wasn't until LR 4 that there were collection-specific stacks, making them more useful for reviewing and present.

The user manual Using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 refers to both concepts:

"You can create stacks to group a set of visually similar photos together, making them easy to manage. Stacks are useful for keeping multiple photos of the same subject or a photo and its virtual copies in one place, and they reduce clutter in the Grid view and the Filmstrip.

"For example, you may want to create a stack to group multiple photos of a portrait session taken with the same pose, or for photos taken at an event using your camera’s burst mode or auto-bracket feature. When you take photos this way, you end up with many similar variations of the same photo, but you usually only want the best one to appear in the Grid view or the Filmstrip. Stacking the photos lets you easily access them all in one place instead of having them scattered across rows of thumbnails."

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john beardsworth

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You'd have to use the wayback machine to go back even further, and I am not just referring to Lightroom. Initially restricting stacks to the same folder reflected LR's folder-based architecture compared with Aperture, and had little impact on the kind of review workflow envisaged and used in promoting the app. Collection-specific stacks were introduced in Lr4 to balance the loss of local flags, which were more useful for reviewing/choosing within collections, and also collections were becoming "creations" (see the Create menus in output modules).  But by Lr2 the rot had set in - after all, it's a very natural way to use the feature.

PS I suspect (and hope) that Adobe would not prioritise changing stacks back to the old way, but what might be more likely is that stack properties could be exposed to filtering (as in both our plugins). For example, smart collections could have a Stack Status criterion, with Top of Stack being one choice that would hide items lower down. Another example might be something more general like the Show Photos in Subfolders menu item, so Show Photos Inside Stacks? The issue isn't really whether stacks should be global or local, but about how to address the practical  problems, and it may be better to shoot for what's most achievable.
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Antoine Hlmn

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Why not keep 'local stacks', allowing to choose stacks according to the collection you're in (i.e. Slideshow, Book, ...) but inherit stacking info when images are copied or when a collection is created. It's already the case when a folder is dragged into the collection pane to form a collection. But if you copy images, the stack stack info is lost. That's not consistent, for the least.