Color Label Sets is one of those features. Here's another powerful way to classify, organize and search for specific images or sets of images in LR. Scott Kelby touches on it in his LR3 book but doesn't really say how to use it, nor did he point out the pitfalls!
This one reared its ugly head when I discovered that I couldn't retrieve the images that I had labelled as "Completed Keepers" in my 40,000 image LR database. The reason? Well, the other day I decided to do a little cleanup, so I happened to go into the Color Label Set menu item (you find it under the Metadata tab in the Library module). I had previously changed the labels associated with the color labels but not knowing any better, never saved them anywhere. Clearly, I had changed them more than once because, as I discovered to my horror, searching for a specific color label under Attribute only finds the ones with the current text title associated with it. I changed, for instance, the text associated with the green color label (you flag a photo green by hitting "8" in Library or at most places in Develop (not when you have a tool active!)). I changed it from "Editing Complete" to "Ready to Export". I changed a few others as well.
Then I went into my main image folder — my whole library — and in Attribute, searched for images flagged green. "NO PHOTOS MATCH THIS FILTER". WTF?
LR wasn't searching for "Green" labelled photos, it was searching for "Green (Ready to Export)" photos, and there weren't any. Don't panic, roll back to last night's saved catalog backup. No change. See this feature is a global LR feature and not tied to a specific catalog. Now panic.
I eventually posted the issue on the NAPP forum and a few hours later, I had a response from Michael Hoffman, one of the forum moderators, with the solution. Under Library Filters, use the Metadata tab, then change one of the columns to "Label" and the whole list of all the labels you've ever used appears. I could breathe again! Thanks, Mike.
Now I got to thinking: there are lots of ways to categorize images in LR but not really enough for all my purposes. For example, suppose I've completed editing some images, they're "Ready to Export". Some of them are really good, they're going up on my SmugMug page, or to my Blog, or to be entered in competition, or... and some of them were not that successful — I want to mark that they're done but they're ordinary. I don't want to throw them away... I'd like to mark them as "Edited - Archive". But I've used up all my color labels. Not so fast! Let's turn this sow's ear into a silk purse!
Create multiple Color Label Sets!
FIRST: So you don't lose the ability to find images you have already labelled, save your current color label set. In Library, go to Metadata then Color Label Sets and Edit.
Select the little arrow to the right in the preset heading
then "save current settings as new preset".
Now create a new set of color labels. Then save them as a new preset, like this example:
So when I import a bunch of images, and I want to flag some burst sequences that I intend to merge into HDR's, I simply change the color set I'm using, then hit "7" to flag them. Later, when I want to find them, I do the same thing — I change color label sets and search for yellow labelled images! Or I use the Metadata tab in the Library filter to find them:
Note: I created this color label set just to illustrate this article. Then I flagged a couple of random pictures just to test it. I'll go back and make some more logical sets later. I'm thinking one set for when I'm importing, one set for post-editing... etc.
BTW, here's a bonus: if you leave a color label name unchanged from one set to another, then you can find ALL of the images with that label. Notice the 930 images labelled "Completed". They're from both sets.
You could also create color label sets for specific assignments, or jobs, or events... the possibilities are endless.
Just another obscure but powerful feature in Lightroom 3!