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P: Expanding the functionality of Auto Sync and Sync Copies

Participant ,
Aug 22, 2022 Aug 22, 2022

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Let there be  Auto Sync Copies and Auto Sync Stack!

 

One of the most mission-critical features of Lightroom are virtual copies and the syncing of settings (copying/pasting from one photo to another). Everything works well until you actually expect for the copies to function as copies. I'll explain.

 

Currently, a virtual copy is an actual LR copy of  another image only at the moment of its creation. Once you make any changes to it, that "virtual copy" is no longer a copy, it's just a  virtual reference to the original image with whatever additional changes you made to it. It somehow reminds me of the Stamp Visible feature in Photoshop. You make a copy of the state of things at a point in time and then work it further. Whatever changes you make to the layers below will never be visible. Let's just call it a fork.

 

I propose that virtual copies get some kind of redemption to live up to their names of being a "copy", with a feature boost that enables Sync Copies to auto sync!

 

Here's a main example scenario: I have an image that is fully developed and I make a virtual copy to try a different aspect ratio. This image is flagged as Picked, color labeled Green and rated 5 stars. I make a virtual copy of this image to have a version in 16:9 crop ratio, and another square. It could be I may also try a vertical crop, instead of landscape. I now have the same image in 4 different crop flavours, except these copies may not be flagged, color labeled or star rated. This is because if I filter a folder or collection to see flagged images from that shoot, I don't want to see the same image 4 times.

 

Now, if  after creating all these copies I need to make a change to the master image, to maybe bring it more in line with other images from the shoot, I have to manually update all the virtual copies by either syncing or copying/pasting settings, except the crop.

 

But to update the virtual copies I have to be able to select them by making them visible through resetting  my library filters to not show only picks and green labeled images.

 

Here's another kicker: what if the master image I work on is in collection A that holds all my picks from the shoot, my 16:9 crop copy is in collection B (that is synced to show on my TV), my square copy in collection C (for a special book project) and my vertical copy in collection D (shared with a client for magazine cover candidates)?

 

In that case, the only way I can go about selecting my master and copies together is by getting out from whatever collection I am in and going to the folder in library, selecting there, and auto syncing or copying/pasting the needed settings and resume my work. And that has to happen for any image and every time a change is needed after the virtual copies are created.

 

Or, I recently found out about this feature hidden in Develop > Settings menu > Sync Copies (and which only appears there (not in the contextual Develop Settings menu while in Library module, and not under  Photo > Develop Settings menu while in Library module). Using Sync Copies greatly helps, but I still have to remember what not to sync from one (master) image to another. 

 

Why does it have to be so twisted a workflow?

 

The need is simple: 4 images (3 virtual copies and 1 master) should be in sync all the time, wherever they may be found, in whatever collections, minus some key adjustments, like crop (in this case). 

 

I would like to be able to go to the master photo, select Settings > Auto Sync Copies..., choose everything I need synced, minus whatever I don't need synced and not worry about further syncing settings. If I make any adjustments to the master, it will automatically be applied to all copies, minus the crop.

 

Imagine if you had to click a button to resync an image that is in a synced collection, every time you made a change to the image. If you forget, whole collections would quickly get out of control. Or, if we didn't have smart objects in Photoshop anymore. Insanity.

 

For more flexibility, like in the case where you need certain copies auto synced and others not auto synced to the master image, this logic can be extended to stacks, so that auto sync will apply only to copies in the same stack as the master image, or simply, configure the first image in a stack to auto sync to the rest of the images in the stack (regardless of whether it's a master or copy). Maybe this could be called Auto Sync Stack ;).

 

If you reorder the stack by setting another image as the first in stack, when the stack is configured with Auto Sync, there would be a prompt to the user (similar to the one shown when trying to make changes in soft proof mode). The prompt would ask whether you want to disable Auto sync for the stack and set another image as first in stack.

 

Attached are some mockups to give an idea of some UI elements that could indicate whether an image or a stack have auto sync enabled.

 

Looking forward to further discussing this. 

 

 

 

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2 Comments
Community Expert ,
Aug 23, 2022 Aug 23, 2022

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Auto Sync already exists, although not specifically for stacks or virtual copies. So yes, you will have to make all virtual copies visible by disabling filters. Then select the original and all the virtual copies. Go to the develop module and toggle the small switch of the 'Synchronize' button. It will change to 'Auto Sync'. Now make your changes to the original and all these changes will sync to the selected copies.

 

-- Johan W. Elzenga

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Participant ,
Aug 23, 2022 Aug 23, 2022

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Johan, I am aware that Auto Sync exists, as per the title of the post. The idea is to extend the current Auto Sync functionality specifically for stacks and virtual copies, to streamline the process and not require resetting library filters, changing sources, changing sorting, pre-selecting virtual copies, etc.

 

Pre-selection doesn't scale. The more copies you have, the more selections need to be made for trivial tasks like updating a master photo. In my previous example, I gave the example of the cropped copies with various pronounced ratios. But the differences between master images and copies can be much more subtle. You can have variations of white balance, of sharpeness, perspective correction and many others that cannot be easily seen in grid view or in the filmstrip. Identifying which copies belong to which master images can be very time-consuming. Take 10 images with 6-8 copies each, and you'll spend half your day "pre-selecting" in a inefficient attempt to keep everything synced.

 

Here's an example of the grid and filmstrip view in a folder sorted by capture time. Note that the images in the stack don't respect the sorting setting of the folder. Some are in synced collections, some are not. Some are purple, which in my workflow means they're proof copies, some not. Any image can be manually moved in any position of the stack, as if the folder was set to custom order, even though it's not. This shuffling of the image order inside the stack can happen outside the grid or the filmstrip, like in Survey view for example, meaning it may not be intentional, even if you try to stay organized; like keeping copies to the right of the master image.

 

lr_grid_stack_copies_order.jpg

lr_filmstrip_stack_copies_order.jpg

 

The point is that even if I come to the original folder, reset the library filters to show the copies and choose a sorting order, manual selection of copies can be daunting. When every program you jump to returns a filename like City-Edit-Edit-Sharpened-Edit-LuminarNeo-Edit-Edit.tif, keeping track and comparing filenames for copy selection purpose is  unpleasant.

 

And there's also the issue of type of copies. Some copies can be for crop or other variations others are for print soft proofing. In this case, using  Sync Copies doesn't work to automate the process, because I certainly don't want to mass  affect any print copies, which are optimized in various ways for printing on a specific paper.

 

If there was something like Auto Sync Stack (described in my OP), proof copies could be stacked together separately, and crop copies could be stacked together with the master image or even on their own.

 

Thanks for your input.

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