Lightroom’s Virtual Copies

I noted something worth writing about in Lightroom when I was playing with my parrot picture on a slow Sunday morning.

Last night I uploaded the original picture to my ‘backup’ album on PicasaWeb. I used Jeff Friedl’s PicasaWeb plugin so it dutifully recorded the location of the picture and the time of upload in some custom metadata it adds to the Lightoom database.

I made two virtual copies of the picture so I could show the difference between the blurred background altered in Photoshop and the background as I shot it.

Lightroom copied that custom metadata so it looked like I’d uploaded those pictures to PicasaWeb when of course I hadn’t.

That’s normal behaviour for Lightroom. It copies everything, for example the keywords. If I change them, as I often do, then the virtual copy will have different keywords from its parent.

That’s just what I want. Sometimes I will make virtual copies of a picture with several vehicles to crop out all but one. That enables me to add accurate keywords to each virtual copy and have them stacked with the original.

But Jeff’s PicasaWeb URL is read-only so I cannot reset it. I ended up deleting the original from PicasaWeb – and again I cannot reflect that in Lightroom. Now that URL points to nothing.

I don’t think anything can be done about this. The web is full of such ‘weak links’ that are no longer valid. I remember when we working on HP New Wave in the 1980s we designed strong links and weak links. Then we got into deep problems when we tried to do “Distributed New Wave” and wanted to have strong links across the network.

Being HP we didn’t want to release anything as tacky as a system with only weak links. With 20-20 hindsight I think that’s a major reason we never got Distributed New Wave to market.

The original work on the WWW was taking place about the same time and the designers punted on the issue completely. A link (URL) is always weak – the system provides no notifications if it goes away. I wish we could have been as pragmatic and accepted the consequences in the architecture. Then we might have had more influence on the technology as it evolved.

I recall suggesting such a thing and was ridiculed for taking such an easy way out. Such was the HP engineering culture at the time.

How did I get from plaster parrots in Bangkok to software architecture history?

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One Response to “Lightroom’s Virtual Copies”

  1. GB-in-TH Says:

    I found Jeff’s “Picasa Extras” has a tool to reset the upload URL for a photo. He’s done the same for the Flickr Uploader.

    But … I renamed an album in PicasaWeb and all the URLs in Lightroom that point to the old name are now broken. Such is the nature of the weakly linked web.

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