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Editing Technqiue: Flag & Reject in Adobe Lightroom

In this tutorial I will touch on how to use the flag and reject tools within Adobe Lightroom so that you can breeze through your editing selection process after a hard day shooting on the streets. To make things even quicker here's a keyboard shortcut list for this guide:

  • Grid View: G

  • Compare View: C

  • Set as Picked: P

  • Unpick: U

  • Set as Rejected: X

  • Show/Hide Filter bar: \

  • Show/Hide Filmstrip: F5

  • Enter Loupe View: Enter on selected image

Ok, theoretically speaking, you have have been out all day dusting miles under the built collecting shot after shot of award winning gold. Now you're home and can't wait to jump in to the editing process using Lightroom. Your shots are so good you can't decide which ones are keepers. This is where Flag and Reject comes in to save the day.

Thanks to the handy tool that Lightroom provides you can quickly sort by filter/attribute which goes hand in hand with flagging. I've marked up both Attribute and Filter within the filmstrip below so that you can pinpoint them both even without your glasses:

Attribute and Filter toolbars shown in grid view
Attribute and Filter toolbars shown in grid view

If you aren't seeing your photos displayed like the image above press G to go to grid view. To bring up the filter bar press / or if you're missing the film strip hit F5.

With Lightroom setup you can begin flagging your images by pressing P on the image you'd like. If you want to unpick just press U. I mainly tend to flag as opposed to reject as no image gets left behind in my library. To take a closer look in Loupe view hit Enter on a selected image.

Flag or Reject shown in Loupe view
Flag or Reject shown in Loupe view

Below the image is a new toolbar enabling you to flag and reject. To be honest it's faster to use the shortcuts (P and U). Loupe view however is great for getting a closer look at your images.

Comparing two images is easy enough if you press C to enter compare view with two images selected. Here you can use the flag and reject tools Lightroom provide below each image. Perfect for refining your selection between two very close images.

Flag or Reject shown in Compare view
Flag or Reject shown in Compare view

Once you've tamed the beast and selected the images you want to keep, or think at least think are best, you can select to show only flagged images using the filters or attributes toolbar. If you've already forgotten and can't see it to bring up the attribute toolbar (quickly) press \. Likewise press F5 for the filmstrip. Sweet? Now you should see both toolbars.

Filter Panel
Filter Panel

Attribute Panel
Attribute Panel

Go ahead and select to filter by flagged images to see your masterful work. You can then go on to edit further, begin modifying, key wording, putting in to folders or whatever the hell you like really. I only disregard unflagged photos a few weeks later once I can scan over them again with fresh eyes in case any slipped through my original net.

Flagging and Rejecting can be a quick way to give some order to a unruly folder from a hard day of shooting on the streets. It's a perfect first bay for telling the decent from the totally not decent, before deciding what to do next with your images.

And that's all folks. I hope this helps you on your way to becoming an Adobe Lightoom Yoda. I'd love to hear what you think of my first tutorial especially if it helped. If you think there's something I've missed please don't be afraid to let me know. Head over to the Contact Me Page to let me know what you think.

Jordan Murray

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