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Author Topic: Getting started with keywords  (Read 5520 times)
JoeThePhotographer
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« on: December 04, 2009, 09:11:13 PM »

I could use some serious help with keywords.  I can't decide on a basic strategy.  I have a lot of family and friend photos.  Do I indication the location and the occasion in the keywords?  The names of all of the people in the picture?  Whether it was a group shot or a solo portrait?  Whether it was night or day?  What I was trying to accomplish?  Whether or not it was a good shot?  All of the above?

Joe
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BKKPhotographer
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2009, 07:31:54 AM »

I don't know if I have enough experience or knowledge to give you a definitive answer, but here are a few ideas.

First, I assume you are keywording your personal photos. They are to help you to find them later. That's as opposed to, say, a stock photographer who keywords so others can find (and buy them). Or a corporate photographer who keywords so others in the company can find them.

Second, I think the first thing to consider is how you anticipate you'll search in future. Think about the kinds of searches you'll want to do. For example, I photograph a lot of vehicles. I want to be able to find all photos of a Bangkok MTA Hino AK bus on route #2 on Sukhumvit Road. Or all photos of a British Airways Boeing 747 at San Francisco Airport.

Knowing the kinds of questions you want to ask suggests the keyword structure you need to build. I effectively developed my own "Controlled Vocabulary" for keywording. Some serious keyworders purchase a controlled vocabulary. I think my needs are unusual (Ok ,weird) and I am frugal so I developed my own. I entered many of them before I keyworded a single photo and made sure that the organization, using Lightroom's hierarchy, was general enough to expand.

So, for example, I want to be able to search down to the street level in major cities. I have a keyword hierarchy that reflects the organization of Bangkok as that is my home. But I also made sure that it works for cities I visit, for example London, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Similarly for vehicles I developed a hierarchy based on vehicle type, manufacturer and model. For buses and coaches I developed another hierarchy based on operator and route identifier (number).

And that raised an interesting little issue. That is that keywords are "typeless". So it isn't possible to tell from a photo that has the keyword "3" if it is of a "Mazda 3" car or a bus on route #3. Indeed "3" appears in many places in my Lightroom keyword hierarchy and sometimes confuses it no end.

I developed some workarounds for that using keyword synonyms to add a notion of type.

Having typed this I have no idea if I am on the right track to helping you with your needs.

Let me know if this in any way fits the way you think about your photo collection. I've written a lot about it on my blog so feel free to take a look if you are interested. For example the post on My Workflow : http://bkkphotographer.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/my-workflow/ describes my keywording in a bit more detail.

Cheers from Bangkok.
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JoeThePhotographer
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2009, 03:43:54 PM »

Thanks, that was very helpful.  With respect to your Mazda 3 example, is there no way to use 2-word keywords properly?
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BKKPhotographer
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2009, 05:23:45 AM »

I'm glad it was helpful Once I get typing it is hard to stop - but then I wondered if my ideas were relevant.

My "Mazda 3" problem is a by-product of the way I set up my keywords in a hierarchy. I want to be able to find all Mazda care and also all Mazda 3's. So "3" is a child of Mazda. This works great in a hierararchy - it provides context - but when I do something like export to Flickr all that's exported is the "3" - an that's where I lose information.

There is a similar problem in tagging aircraft and some people came up with the notion of typed "aerotags". Flickr supports them as a specialization of the type "machine tag". I developed my own "vehicle tags" along the same lines. See http://bkkphotographer.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/vehicle-tagging/

You asked in your original post:
Quote
I have a lot of family and friend photos.  Do I indication the location and the occasion in the keywords?  The names of all of the people in the picture?  Whether it was a group shot or a solo portrait?  Whether it was night or day?  What I was trying to accomplish?  Whether or not it was a good shot?  All of the above?

My rule for "people shots" are:
  • I want to be able to search by date, location and who is in the picture.
  • LR enables me to filter by date very easily so it does not need keywording.
  • I don't worry about groups vs. solo portraits but I have seen requests for the ability to search for "Jim, Bill but not Sally". I don't know how to do that!
  • Whether or not it was a good shot. That's what ratings are for. There are other fields in LR for process related information. In addition my Vehicle Metadata plugin I mentioned in my Workflow blog post has a free form Notes field. John Beardsworth have a plugin that has the same thing. You could use that for private notes.
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JoeThePhotographer
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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2009, 11:37:43 AM »

That's a lot of helpful information.  It seems that Lightroom keyword hierarchy is what I need (despite potential incompatability with other programs).

I've quickly set up a structure that I will test on the last few shoots.  One category that has stumped me is Indoor/Outdoor.  I think it would be helpful to find all outdoor shots, but that's a category that can apply to any other category.  (My main categories are People, Pets, Landscape, Wildlife, Cultural Heritage, Permorming Arts, Activities (eg. fishing), Holidays, Events, Special Effects (e.g. macro, motion, night, long exposure), Portraits (to make it easy to find shot where people posed) and Vehicles).

Should I create two new categories, Indoor and Outdoor?

With respect to something like Special Effects--Long Exposures, while it is possible to surmise that from the camera metadata, it seems helpful to have a keyword for it too.  Does that sound reasonable.

Now one big question I have are searches.  I assume there must be a way to set up searches using common queries like AND, OR, NOT.  Am I correct in that assumption?

Joe
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johnbeardy
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2009, 12:23:36 PM »

Look at Smart Collections. They're best for queries when you know what you're looking for, and are an organisational tool when used in conjunction with dumb collections and collection sets. There's also the Filter Panel for when you don't know exactly what you're looking for, and want to explore or drill down into the catalogue.

I see no reason not to include keywords for the technique where it's an important aspect of the image appearance. Indoor / outdoor seems a bit of a waste of effort though.

John
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BKKPhotographer
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2009, 07:55:34 PM »

Smart Collections are excellent for locating pictures based on criteria in the metadata. Remember you can filter them to get more precise. I was concerned having a lot of Smart Collections would be a performance drain as they are "live" but I have not noticed a problem so far. They just work. I am impressed.

If you think you'll need to find interior shots in the future then by all means keyword them. I do the same for my vehicle pictures.

It's good to start with a subset of you pictures, keyword them and then think up some "use cases" for a searches you'll want to do when you have them all catalogued. You can save custom filters for searches you'll use frequently.

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JoeThePhotographer
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2009, 05:13:55 AM »

When I assume a keyword from the hierarchy to a picture, only that keyword gets assigned and not the ones up the chain.  Is that by design?  I would have thought that all of the keywords up the chain would get assigned.  For example, in the example above <vehicle-Mazda-3> if you asign "3" how would know that's a vehicle and a Mazda?

Anoher question: how do you add new words and build the hierarchy without actually assigning the words to a picture?

Joe
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johnbeardy
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2009, 05:21:14 AM »

The keywords up the chain will get applied upon exporting the file - take a look at the Keywording panel, and set its Will Export view. Also you need to experiment a bit to gain confidence about how it works.

You can construct a hierarchy in the Keyword List panel. just click the + sign, or right click a keyword. Alternatively, you can import and external list via Metadata > Import Keywords. To see the format, create a small hierarchy and export it with Metadata > Export Keywords, then  examine the file in Notepad.

John
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JoeThePhotographer
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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2009, 12:06:09 PM »

John,

Thanks for the reply.  The import/export could be very handy.  I need to figure out happens if I import when I already have a structure in the works.

One other question on my mind:  is it ok/typical to have keywords that are longer than one word?

Joe
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2009, 09:47:48 AM »

> is it ok/typical to have keywords that are longer than one word?

Joe,
Sure. The field is made to hold multi-word terms.
Peter
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BKKPhotographer
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« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2009, 10:00:55 PM »

I have many keywords including spaces. Lightroom handles them once you have entered them BUT if you type a space in the keyword entry field LR assumes you are starting a new keyword. I have to scroll down the drop down list rather than keep typing.
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