The collection went away

Godfrey DiGiorgi gdigiorgi at
Fri Oct 16 09:11:48 EDT 2009

On Thu, Oct 15, 2009 at 4:23 PM, Larry Colen <lrc at> wrote:
> It seems that the biggest challenge at the moment is that I have a
> few, nearly identical directory trees. It's a long story, but I've got
> a couple attempts at backing up the directory tree in several trees on
> the drive.
> Is there a utility that can do a good job of merging or pruning
> mulitiple similar trees of raw files. This is compounded by the fact
> that the camera counter only goes to 9999 so impgp4375.pef may have
> several different iterations, some of which are duplicates.

One way to help deal with this is to prep the files in those catalogs
prior to trying to coalesce the trees. Lightroom's tools for file
renaming come in handy:

- In your present catalogs, rename your files using a filename pattern
that uses the date information embedded in the files in metadata, eg:
YYMMDD-[filenumber portion of original filename]

- At this point you know that even if you originally have two
IMGP4375.PEF files, the likelihood, if they were actually distinct,
that they were shot on the same year, month and day would be very

- Outside of Lightroom, you might use standard file system tools (a
Terminal window and command-line LS, the Finder, etc) to see how many
of the files of one catalog have replicated file names. There are
tools that help to resolve duplicates and such ... Don't have any
names off the top of my head as I have only rarely needed such things.
I do things like making text lists of directory contents (expressed as
full paths) and then using an editor to compare them, etc.

- Now, using Lightroom with a new catalog, using the "import from
catalog" command, you start by moving one catalog's files to a new
location and letting it sort them out into a date-organized file
structure. Then you go to the second and you set the file handling to
move or copy into that same file structure as appropriate, and tell it
what to do when it finds name conflicts. And over and over until you
have one coordinated OFR alongside the other.

It always makes sense to have a master, backup copy of *everything*
... OFR and all the catalogs ... stored away before you start the
renaming and coalescing process. Just so that once you're done, you
can check back that you did actually catch everything and didn't lose
anything before the operation is completed, making a master backup
copy, and then deleting the old OFR to reclaim all that disk space.

As I said, tedious. But with a bit of forethought and logic it works.

> There are certain things I like about the "include subdirectories"
> library option, but I don't know how to set things up so that the
> existing directories are all listed under a top level directory.

I'm not sure what you're referring to but perhaps... in Lightroom, by
default, when you have a set of nested subdirectories in the Folders
panel, clicking on the parent directory shows the contents of all
included subdirectories in the Grid view. You can defeat that by
toggling the "Library->Include Photos from subfolders" command ...
then it only shows you files in each node on the directory tree.

Also by default, Lightroom shows a minimum directory subtree of the
files that you've imported in the Folder panel in an attempt to
simplify the view as much as possible. If you want to see more of the
parent, included file system hierarchy, right-click on a folder in the
Folders panel and use the "Add Parent Folder" command to include more
of the file system organization. You can do this recursively on each
Parent folder until you get down to the root folder of the volume, if
you so desire, and you can also use the "promote subfolders" command
on root folder to elide this directory tree view and simplify the
Folder panel view again.

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