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Rotating Photos

Keyboard Shortcut
While in a Contact Sheet
Mac: ⌘[ or⌘]
Windows: Ctrl-[ or Ctrl-]
While in a Preview
(Mac & Windows) [ or ]

Rotations are only performed ‘visually’: the original image is not rotated and will appear ‘as shot’ if opened in an external editor. This is called soft-rotation and is in line with Photo Mechanic’s policy of never altering the original image data in any way. While the image file’s EXIF orientation will be updated, the image data is not rotated or modified in any way.

Some cameras have a sensor for camera orientation which writes an orientation tag into the EXIF metadata of the image file. Photo Mechanic can work with this and such images will appear the correct orientation in the Contact Sheet and Preview displays.

To rotate an image in the Contact Sheet view you can choose from the following methods.

1. Click on the thumb to select it and choose Image / Rotate Photos from the menu. This is a slow way to work, but it is useful for large selections of photos.

2. Hovering the mouse over a thumbnail will cause icons to appear in the corners of the thumb. The two arrows in the top corners can be used to quickly rotate the thumb.

3. Use the keyboard shortcuts on selected thumbs - ⌘[ or ⌘]. These are the square bracket keys, [ for rotate left, or Counter Clockwise and ] for rotate right, or Clockwise - hold down the ⌘ key when using them.

4. To rotate a multiple photos in a selection, make the selection as usual and either use the keyboard shortcuts above or click on the arrow on one of the thumbnails while holding down the modifier key. If you don’t use the modifier key only the thumbnail that you are clicking on will rotate.

To clear a rotation from a photo, right click it in the Preview Window and select Crop > Clear Rotation.

In the Preview Display, images may be rotated using the icons on the menu bar or, better still, by using the square bracket keys again, but this time without the ⌘ key.

Preview and 2-Up Editing

While the Contact Sheet window is good for getting an overview of a collection of images, the Preview window is where critical editing can be done. The image can be viewed at 100% for focus checking and images can still be tagged, classed, and rated as usual.

With the full set of palettes displayed you can see at a glance the histogram for exposure, the focus (using the Z key to toggle zoom) and other images in the collection in the Thumb Gallery at the bottom to give an overview of the collection. Using the arrow keys to step through images is fast and intuitive and using the F key to toggle full screen mode combines well with the Z key to quickly check focus.

The 2-Up mode is useful for comparing very similar images, such as a sequence of portraits where expression differences can be quite subtle. You can toggle between 2-Up side by side and 2-Up one image over the other by using the H and V keys. This allows you to use one mode for landscape orientation images and the other for portrait mode images.

The image that is changed when using the arrow keys is the one that is currently ‘in focus’ - click on one or other of the images to bring it into focus so that the info palettes reflect that image. Using the arrow keys will change this image, but leave the other behind. In this way you could work through a sequence of portraits keeping one as a current favorite, and stepping though others to see if a better one appears. The ‘focused’ image also has an ‘aqua’ box drawn around it to help see which is in focus.

Greg Gorman Key

The G key adds a subtle editing function first identified and requested by photographer Greg Gorman. It works like this, using a portrait session as an example: Using the 2-Up (H) mode in Full Screen mode (F), choose the first shot, change focus to the second half of the preview and step through the other images using the arrow keys. Only the second image will change, to image 2, 3, 4 etc, the first image in the non-focus window will stay the same. What we are doing is viewing Image 1 side by side with Images 2,3,4,5, etc.

Now, if we find an image which is better than Image 1 we can press the G key to swap the image in the focused window to the un-focused window, replacing the initial favorite with a new favorite. Continue to use the arrow key to view more images and the new favorite will remain in the other window.

By doing this we can very quickly find the best shot by continuing to press the G key when we see a shot that is better than the one we have ‘reserved’. Once we have finished going through the whole shoot we should have a preferred image in one window and the last image in the set in the other window. Return focus to the preferred image by clicking on it once and then close the Preview window. This preferred image will now be seen highlighted in the Contact Sheet display. You might wish to Tag it first, set its Color Class to Winner, or give it a rating.

As you go through the images you could even Tag all the ones that were considered possible ‘hero’ shots so that when you have finished, not only will you have one ‘best’ shot but all the ones you considered will be Tagged so you can go back and press F3 to see them all and make sure that your choice was the best one.

Zoom and Lock

In the 2-Up view, with the images zoomed in (Z key), pressing the L key will lock the two images together so that when you drag one image around in the view window, the other one will move with it. This is very useful for comparing two very similar images critically.

Hint: Align the images first, using the Hand tool, before locking them.

Slide Show

Keyboard Shortcut
Slide Show

Mac: ⌘-L
Windows: Ctrl-L

Another powerful way to edit your images in the current contact sheet is to display a Slide Show and mark the images as they are displayed. You can use the normal keyboard shortcuts for setting a color class or tagging the images as they are shown. If the Slide Show is set to manual it is easy for a group of editors to work their way through a collection and make a collective decision before moving onto the next image.

The Slide Show operates on the current selection of images so if you want to show them all, use ⌘A (or Ctrl-A in Windows) to select them all first.

Get to Slide Show Settings quickly with ⌘-L on a Mac
* Render Text - Check this to add captions to the Slide Show. The text can be typed in the text box and will be shown on each slide formatted in the font and color selected from the Font and Color Panels. A sample caption is displayed. For best results set the number of lines to 2 so there is some space between the caption and the next image.

For more sophisticated captions you can use Variables to create the rendered text from IPTC info, date, camera model etc.

  • Fade speed - Set the speed of the transition
  • Fade color - Change the background color between slides.
  • Wait for Space Bar / Show Each Image for __ Seconds - You have the choice to have the Slide Show progress automatically, or wait for you to press the space bar to advance the slides. Accepts values to the tenth of a second.
  • Loop until cancel - Keep playing Slide Show until Esc pressed.
  • Randomly shuffle photo playback - Play random slides from among the ones you've selected.
  • Apply Crop - If a crop has been set in Preview then checking this box will apply it to the displayed image.

When the Slide Show is playing you can use the keyboard shortcuts to control the playback as well as Tagging (+) or setting Color Classes (1-8,0) for each image. The D key ‘dismisses’ the image from the show (and the selection) so when you return to the Contact Sheet you will see that only the remaining images continue to be selected.

When going from windowed mode to full-screen mode (toggle with keyboard 'f') the full-screen Slide Show will resume on the monitor that the windowed mode Slide Show was running on. This means you can run the Slide Show on any monitor you choose.

Note: Slide Show prevents screen saver and system sleep while it is playing.


Live Slide Show

Keyboard Shortcut
Live Slide Show

Mac: ⌘-Shift-L
Windows: Ctrl-Shift-L

Live Slide Show is much the same as the normal slide show except that it ‘watches’ a folder to see if a new file is added. This new file is automatically added to the slide show, so the show gets longer as new files are copied in. This can be especially useful during tethered shooting, or during a long import of many files.

Use the ‘Redisplay previously shown photos after __ seconds of inactivity’ check box to cause the Live Slide Show to start showing the first photos again after a desired amount of time since the last new photo was displayed. If unchecked, Photo Mechanic will wait indefinitely for new photos to arrive. Setting the ‘Shuffle display order’ check box will cause the redisplayed photos to be show in random order.

Note: If shooting Raw+JPG while tethered, Live Slide Show will show both the Raw and JPG files in the Live Slide Show, even if your settings are set to combine them into a single thumbnail. This is because the files show up one at a time during tethering. Check to see if your tethering software allows you to specify one filetype to transfer.