Lightroom Fun and Games

When Lightroom 1.3 was released, I mentioned its new plugin architecture, which looked like something with a lot of potential. For my purposes, the best plugin I’m aware of is Jeffrey Friedl’s one for exporting to Flickr. This is great – it can resize your images, add tags, titles and captions (you can either add them manually, or let it extract them from the metadata you’ve probably already entered in Lightroom, then upload them to Flickr, adding them to sets if you so wish. It’s been updated and enhanced a few times, and is insanely useful.

Now that would be quite enough in itself, but Jeffrey’s a Clever Person[1], and he found a way to make his Lightroom plugin even more useful: you can add plugins to the plugin. He calls the add-ins “Piglets“[2], and the one I’m going to babble about is the really nice LR/Mogrify written by Timothy Armes. This started out as a separate plugin (and can still be used that way), but it’s as a Piglet that it’s of most use to me. It uses the well-known ImageMagick, and in particular its “mogrify” command to do Clever Things to images. Early versions required the user to have ImageMagick installed already, but it now includes an embedded version, making it a complete doddle to use.

You’ll need to look at Tim’s site for full details of what it can do, but I use it to add borders and captions to images, as shown in the example picture.

Bay Reflections

Bay Reflections

Trying to make the most of a hazy day at Cardiff Bay

This used to require a round-trip to Photoshop, where I used an Action to make it automagic, but it still took a little more time and effort. If you’re a Lightroom user, this is definitely worth tryng out. Tim offers a free basic version, which is limited only in that it can only process 10 images per batch. If you make a donation (you decide how much), you can have an unlimited version, which is pretty cool. While I rarely send more than five or six images at a time to Flickr, I thought it was worth waving some money in Tim’s general direction, given that he’s saving me lots of time and effort.

Incidentally, installing LR/Mogrify is one of those tasks that reminds me of how different Mac OS X is from Windows. Under Windows, you’d drop the Piglet into the plugin’s folder. On the Mac, the plugin appears to be a single file. The trick is that, like applications, it’s a Package – basically, a special kind of folder that hides its true nature unless you need to see it. This does make things tidier, though it was moderately confusing at first to my Windows-conditioned and moderately addled old brain. All you have to do is right-click (assuming you’re not being hard-core traditional Mac and are insisting on a one-button mouse) and select “Show Package Contents”. Then you can drop the piglet files in where they belong. Oh, and every time Jeffrey provides a new version of the plugin, you’ll have to remember to drop LR/Mogrify into the new one, but that’s a minor task.

[1] He wrote the book on Regular Expressions, things which make the heads of many intelligent people hurt. A lot.
[2] Should I do a quick Tigger joke here?