LR006 - Show images buried in stacks when using LR Filters

December 05, 2017  •  2 Comments

LR006 – Show images buried in stacks when using LR Filters

Stacking Overview

One very nice feature of LR (Lightroom) is the use of “Stacks”.  Stacks allow the user to clump images together into what they call stacks.  Once a group of images are in a stack you can collapse the stack so that only the top image is visible in the grid or filmstrip – thus greatly reducing clutter.  If you regularly bracket your shots, stacks are a great way to hide all but the preferred image in the bracket set.  Or if you, like me, wind up taking many different shots at the same place and time that are all very similar to each other stacking is a great way to nominate one as the best of the group and then hide the other similar, but not quite as good, versions behind the best one. .  It should be noted that only images from the same physical folder can be in the same stack.

In LR you show or hide the images buried in a stack with the “Expand Stack” or “Collapse Stack” commands (there are also Expand All Stacks, and Collapse All Stacks commands) – not to be confused with the “Stack” and “Un-Stack” commands. 

In the screen shot below, the circled thumbnail image is the top image of a collapsed stack consisting of 6 images.  In other words that thumbnail represents 6 images but only the top image is visible.  The number in the top left corner of the thumbnail shows how many total images are in the stack.

01 Blog 006 - Stacked Grid01 Blog 006 - Stacked Grid

If I want to see all 6 of those stacked images I just click on the number 6 in the upper left corner of the thumbnail (arrow).  This is shown below.  As you hover your mouse over an image it shows you where that image is in the stack (4 of 6 shown below)

02 Blog 006 - Expanded Grid02 Blog 006 - Expanded Grid

If I click on one of stack position numbers (e.g. “4 of 6”) that image moves to the stop of the stack.  If I click on the first one (the number 6 in this case) then it collapses the stack.

The Problem

Even though stacks are great, they do have a problem.  When you have images in a stack and that stack is collapsed such that you are only seeing the top image in the grid or filmstrip, they are hidden not only from the grid/filmstrip but also they are hidden from the Lightroom Filters.  In other words, the Filter tools in Lightroom only consider images you could see in the grid/filmstrip if the filters were turned off.

Let’s say you select a folder which contains stacks of images and most or all of those stacks are collapsed such that you are only seeing the top image of each stack.  Now, let’s say you want to use a LR filter on the filter bar to only see the images with a rating of 3 or more stars as shown below

03 Blog 006 - Stacked 3 star03 Blog 006 - Stacked 3 star

You’ll notice from a prior screen shot that the first stack has 3 images with 3 or more stars (#1, #2 and #5) however, only one of those images is showing. 

The same thing happens if you filter on anything else.  In the screen shot below I want to see all my images that have the keyword “Moat”.  So, I click on the right facing arrow to the right of the keyword “Moat” in the Keyword List Panel.  This sets a keyword filter in the filter bar above the grid and selects the “All Photographs” set of images in the Catalog panel. 

In the Keyword list it shows me that I have 4 images with the keyword “Moat”.  So why am I only seeing 2 images in the grid when I am using “All Photographs” as my working set of images and I have a filter for keyword “Moat”? 

The answer is that 2 of the 4 images with that keyword are buried in collapsed stacks making them invisible to the filter.  This is the problem as I want to see all 4.

04 Blog 006 - Moat 204 Blog 006 - Moat 2


The Solution

The intuitive solution is to expand all the stacks so those other two images are no longer hidden.  This does work, but if you have many thousands of images in hundreds or thousands of stacks this “Expand All Stacks” operation could take awhile.  In addition, let’s say you spent much time collapsing some stacks and leaving other expanded for some purpose.  If you “Expand All” then you’ve lost that work.

Here’s a better solution.

Step 1 – This is a one time setup step.  Go on over to the collections panel on the left and click the “+” sign to the right of the word “Collections”

05 Blog 006 - Collection Plus05 Blog 006 - Collection Plus

In the resulting pop up, select “Create Smart Collection…”

07 Blog 006 - Create Collection Type07 Blog 006 - Create Collection Type

In the Create Smart Collection dialog box, name the collection something like “All Photos”.  Leave everything else the same (Rating >= no stars).  Then press the “Create button” at the bottom right.

06 Blog 006 - Create Smart Dialog06 Blog 006 - Create Smart Dialog

You now have a smart collection that contains every image in your catalog regardless of stack position.

Step 2 – Lock your filter bar.  This is a convenience step so is optional.  If you lock the filter bar, when you change sources (e.g. select a different folder or collection) your filters stay in place.  If you leave the filter bar unlocked then each time you change a source it clears the filters.  To lock the filters bar, just click the pad lock into its closed position as shown below.

08 Blog 006 - Lock Filter Bar08 Blog 006 - Lock Filter Bar

I find it much more useful to keep it locked all the time.  If I do want to clear the filters I just click the “None” button.

Step 3 – Set any filters you like.  For my example I set a filter for Keyword “Moat” as I showed you above.  Again, this added a keyword = “Moat” filter into the filter bar and selected the “All Photographs” source in the Catalog Panel and it then only showed me the two images that were at the top of stacks.   Just like before.

Step 4 – Just click on the “All Photos” smart collection you created in step 1.  That’s it.  Now you’ll see all the photos matching your filter.  In my case this is all 4 images that have Keyword = “Moat”

09 Blog 006 - Final09 Blog 006 - Final

So that’s it.  Whenever you have a filter set and you want to see ALL the images that match that filter regardless of their stack position, just select the “All Photos” Smart Collection as the source and you’ll see them all. 

By the way, if you have any collection – Smart or Regular – as your image source (rather than a folder) the filters consider all the images in that collection whether or not they are buried in a stack. 




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