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Learn how to use Lightroom with these tips on file management, preset application, and editing techniques for real estate photography.

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How to Stack Images in Lightroom

Published: 26/04/2021

Did you know Lightroom Classic has a useful feature of stacking photos in the Grid or Filmstrip view? This feature allows real estate photographers to group several similar images in a single thumbnail. Understanding how to stack images in Lightroom will allow you to organize your catalog in a clutter-free way.

How to Stack Images in Lightroom

As a real estate photographer, it is evident that you need to capture several images of the same view, often with varying exposure. When you import them into Lightroom, you may want to declutter the catalog by representing all the similar images with a single thumbnail. Here is where the image stacking feature comes in handy.

Stacking is simply gathering multiple images in one place on your Grid. You can stack photos in a folder and also in a collection.

You can easily select all the similar images and group them as a stack in Lightroom. It will help you spot the stack in an extensive catalog when you want to process those images later. It will also clean up your Grid, facilitating a seamless workflow.

Stacking in the Library Module

When you open the Library module, you first need to select the photos you want to stack. You can make a selection by clicking on the first image, holding down the SHIFT key, and then clicking on the last image from the sequence. 

Or, if your images aren’t adjoining, you can hold the CMD key on Mac, or CTRL key on Windows and click on the images one by one. After selecting the range of photos, you can stack your images using three ways:

  1. Right click on any of the photos you just selected. Select Stacking and then choose Group into stack.
Select Stacking and then choose Group into stack
  1. Using another way, you can also use the keyboard shortcut for stacking, that is CTRL+G (Windows) or CMD+G(Mac).
  2. Another way to stack the selected photos is to go up to the Photo menu. From the Stacking option, select Group into Stack.
Selecting Group into Stack from the Stacking option

You will see that the images are now stacked on top of each other. The thumbnail that represents the stack is of the top image, and the number shown is the number of photos in the stack. 

Number of photos in the stack

Stacking in the Develop Module

Creating a stack in the Develop module is the same as we do in the Library module. The only difference is that you can do it in the filmstrip view, which shows smaller-sized thumbnails than the Grid view. 

Expanding a Stack

One thing worth mentioning here is that you can not apply any effect to the whole stack unless you expand it. 

Notice the side vertical bars that are added to the stack after you create it. Clicking on the bar on the Right side will expand your stack so that you can see all of the images within it.

Alternatively, you can press the “S” key on your keyboard to expand or collapse the stack. Another way to expand the stack is to right click on it and select Stacking > Expand Stack

In the same way, you can select “Expand All Stacks” to open all the stacks you have created in your catalog.

Collapsing a Stack

Collapsing a stack hides all the images within it. If you want to collapse an expanded stack, simply click on the vertical bar on the left hand side of the stack thumbnail. Or, right click on any image from the stack and choose Stacking > Collapse Stack

Simply pressing S will also collapse the stack. If you have expanded multiple stacks, go to the Photo menu, and select Stacking > Collapse All Stacks

Collapse All Stacks option in Lightroom

Move an Image on Top of the Stack

It is possible to change the position of an image in the stack. Select the image and press SHIFT + [ or ] keys to move it up or down. If you want to change the top image, select the image you want to bring on top instead and press SHIFT + S.   

Unstacking 

When you no longer intend to keep a stack, you can simply right click on the stack, and select Stacking > Unstack. The keyboard shortcut for unstacking photos is CTRL+SHIT+G on Windows or CMD+SHIFT+G on Mac.

Split a Stack

There may be occurrences where you want to split the stack into two different stacks. 

  • Expand a stack that you want to split.
  • Select the images that you want to group as a separate stack.
  • Select Photo menu. From the Stacking option, choose Split Stack.

Adding or Removing Images from a Stack

Adding an image to a stack is as simple as dragging it from the grid and adding it to the stack. To remove a photo from the stack, you can select it and right click on it. Choose Stacking from the drop-down and select “Remove From Stack.”

Auto Stacking Feature

While manual stacking gives you complete control over what images to stack and their order, Lightroom also has an Auto-Stack feature. This feature automatically stacks your photos according to their capture time. With auto stack, you can save time and get a clean, organized catalog with a click.

  1. From the grid view in Library, or the filmstrip view in Develop module, select the photos that you want to auto stack.
  2. Navigate to the Photo menu and hover over the Stacking option. Choose Auto Stack by Capture Time
  3. A popup box will show up, where you can choose the interval between photos. You can set the time between the images depending upon the time intervals between shots when you captured them.
Auto Stacking feature in Lightroom

Why Should You Stack Photos?

  1. By stacking photos, you can clear the mess in your catalog by grouping similar shots into a single thumbnail. It will be a lot easier to find the stack of images rather than scrolling down hundreds and thousands of images in the catalog. 
  2. You can stack images to merge them as HDR.
  3. You can stack photos to use the focus stacking technique for sharp images. In Lightroom, you can stack similar images with multiple focus and then open them as layers in Photoshop.
  4. Lastly, you can merge the stacked photos into a Panorama.

Quick Tips on Image Stacking

If you are creating stacks, you must know these tips:

  1. Use keyboard shortcuts instead of wasting time in navigating. Using shortcuts is a proven way to save time
  2. You can only add images from the same folder into a stack. Make sure you import all the photos that you want to stack in the same catalog folder.
  3. If you apply a rating, flag, develop adjustments, or color labels to a collapsed stack, they will be applied to the top image only. Expand the stack to apply settings on all of the images.
  4. The number of photos in the stack is shown on the top left corner of the stack thumbnail. 

Conclusion

Stacking is a helpful feature in Lightroom for those who want quick and efficient catalog organization. It will definitely improve your workflow while using the software. Moreover, it will save the time that you used to spend on looking for a particular image from the catalog.

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