Why I Want All My Pictures in One Lightroom Catalog

Here is an example of why I want to host all my pictures in one Lightroom Catalog. I hoped that the product would scale to support this if I have a sufficiently powerful PC and enough disk. But I fear it will not.

I take many pictures of the many and varied buses and coaches that ply the roads  of Thailand. I like to record detailed information about them. I wrote my own very simple Lightroom add-in. It enables me to hold additional structured information (name-value pairs) about each vehicle:

  • State of Registry, e.g. Thailand.
  • Vehicle Class, e.g. Bus.
  • Vehicle Registration/License Plate, e.g. 14-3371.
  • Fleet Type, e.g. Metrobus.
  • Fleet Number, e.g. 014-007.
  • Notes.
  • and some other stuff.

At present my add-in only records the information in the Lightroom catalog. I think if I write something similar to Jeff Friedl’s “Shadow GPS Injector” I can write it into a picture’s EXIF data as structured keywords (vehicle tags) when I export the picture, e.g. to Flickr using Jeff’s excellent tool.

Anyway …

Yesterday I photographed a bus where I could see its registration plate but I could not see its fleet number. I wanted to see if I had photographed the bus before and if any other photos showed the fleet number.

Click for a large picture

Click for a large picture

Here’s the picture with my Vehicle Information plugin data on the right.

I wanted to search my Lightroom catalog for any other photos of a vehicle with the same registration: 14-3371.

I don’t know why it is, but I cannot build a Metadata Library Filter that allows me to search for the attributes defined by my plugin. I can do it for Jeff’s plugins – for example fliter in which pictures have been uploaded to Picasa Web or Flickr but not for mine.

Note that I CAN synchronize metadata for my plugin. For example:

Sync Vehicle Information

Sync Vehicle Information

But I digress …

Fortunately Lightroom allows me to build a Library Text Filter on “Any Searchable Field” or “Any Searchable Plug-in Field”. (I like the flexibility of the database.) So I made a filter that searched that way. It’s not ideal, but it works. See below:

Click for a Larger Picture

Click for a Larger Picture

Mirabile dictu I found another photograph of the same bus with its fleet number visible: 017-004, i.e. the 4th bus allocated to line #17. It wasn’t a good picture but it had the information I needed (a reason why I rarely delete a bad picture – I just don’t show it to anybody).

I know this is quintessentially nerdy, but it’s what I like to do. I added all sorts of extra information to my old Thumbs Plus database using its excellent User Fields feature. Lightroom is almost as flexible, but making you write LUA code to do something as basic as adding a few fields is very primitive.

Maybe Adobe will add something in version 3. And maybe it will be backwards compatible with the plugins that people are already written.

But the point of this post was to say this is a reason why I want all my pictures in one Lightroom Catalog. I want to be able to search all of them for the one obscure, 2-star rated picture that has the information I want.

Heavens, I was thinking of importing all the pictures I had in Thumbs Plus into Lightroom!

One Response to “Why I Want All My Pictures in One Lightroom Catalog”

  1. BKKPhotographer Says:

    See http://www.scottkelby.com/blog/2009/archives/7180/comment-page-1#comment-184402

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