My Picture Blog

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Text on photos via Lightroom …


I’m neither a graphics whiz nor very accomplished photographer.  I’m also a bit color blind. The applicability of this sort of customization and output is at your own stylistic better judgement.  I am also only a PC user – I can’t say how this matches with the Mac specific menus / behaviors.

Recently Scott Kelby did a post showing how he created a grid composite of all the NFL teams he’d covered.  Each cell contained a team action photo with their team name along the bottom edge, you can see it here:   Multi-Photo Poster Layout in Lightroom

Here’s how to add that line using LR only, as LR lets you merge printable metadata with the image during “Print” operations, paper or to file.  So how might he have gotten that team name there ?

In the Library module ,  Metadata panel – for each photo you can populate a metadata field “Title” along with others like your copyright, allowable use data etc. (see:  “Coco Bann – Hilary”)

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And then in  the Print module, reference the metadata field ‘Title” in a template via “Photo Info” option:

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And eventually end up with something like this in either printed output on paper or a file :


Scott’s grid of NFL teams composite – he could have populated the same metadata field “Title” with the individual team name on each picture, then had LR merge it onto each photo during a bulk “Print to File” operation,  then import those JPG files back into LR and placed them in the individual cells on the grid.  He’d probably have pushed it into PS again to add his composite level branding text and then printed it.

Beyond static text – there are other EXIF and IPTC documentary data items like date, filename, exposure etc. available for your use ;  here’s an example of some possibilities – combining a text string (Idaho Falls, ID) and some metadata the camera and LR populate for you:

photo 1

A little example that hits all the right  steps to being able to do this:

We’ll create a new Print template sized to 4×4 inches at 240 ppi  and stack some text under the photo, then print several files using that template.  This will match the size I posted above of Hilary and the fireworks – you’d do this to meet your image size/resolution and text requirements.

Library Module –

  • Edit metadata to add a Title for each file (as above for Hilary) , or whatever other fields you want printed on the image which are not already populated as part of the metadata.

Print Module –  Create and save a Print template

On “Layout Style” panel, choose “Single Image/ Contact Sheet”

  • Pick the template with a single 4×6 cell from the Lightroom Templates listing on the left. (nothing special, just the one I picked)
  • “Image Settings” – Check “zoom” and “fit” appropriate to your shape and nature of your images


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  • “Layout” –
  • Set all Margins to “0.00”
  • “Page Grid” to 1 row and 1 column
  • “Cell Size” to final size required. (4×4″ in my example)
  • Under “Print Job” – set the “Custom File Dimensions” – to match the cell size –  to get a controlled size file.


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  • I clicked on a filmstrip photo to have something graphical display – it was the one for which I had set the “Title” above.
  • Choose the “Page Background Color” over which the text will display ( located on “Page” panel).  Text color will flip between white and black depending on this background color. Note:  that field is overwriting your image area.
  • Choose the point size of the text, the background area will size up to surround it.


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  • Select the “Photo Info” keywords you want displayed  but you really have at least three options:
  1. Select a single field like “Title” or “Filename”  (the photo above was displaying “Title” I created in metadata above.)
  2. Complex combinations of metadata fields build-ups via “Custom” –  then “Edit”.
  3. Edit them one-off to add text  via the “Custom Text” in the key in box they provide.

This is what the Custom – Edit path looked like when I did it for the fireworks photo above after looking at the pick lists and then “Insert” :

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The items with  {} around them reference metadata fields, the “-” are just characters I added for visual separation as was the “Idaho Falls, ID”..   There are GPS metadata and other special fields you can reference as well, look around them and try them out.

“Print Job”

  • “Print to: JPEG File”
  • Select sharpening appropriately so they don’t get sharpened twice, based on your intended use of the files created.
  • “Custom File Dimensions:” – set this to the same size as your cell size from above or you’ll have “Background Color” borders around the image.
  • “Color Management” – choose your Profile and Intent as appropriate.


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Save the Template with a unique name, and see how it will show up in the Template Browser list.   Go to the “Template Browser” – and choose the “+” to the right of it, give a name and where to save it:

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You now have a saved template.  Just click on it and either use as is, or modify on the fly using what you’ve learned.   I intentionally switched things up in my examples so you can see the flexibility.

Click on a single photo and it will populate into the template image area and dynamically display text per your choices so you can see what’s happening visually.

Now you’re ready to use the template for output.

Select a photo(s) you want to stamp with your template – click on one in the filmstrip.  (The selection options at the lower left of the main center panel):

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“Print to File”

If you have several files selected (see the bottom of this image) and choose “Print to File”, the name you give will be used as a foldername and each file will be an individual jpg in the foldername.  I saved them in a folder on my desktop called “MyFireworks”.

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Here’s what the output looked like in the folder after the “Print to File” process completed:

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You can then Import these files into LR and place them into the matching sized cells in a grid layout and each will have the labeling along the bottom.

Further customizations beyond changing fields, dimensions etc…

You can also do them one at a time, and modify things like text size – add/remove fields etc. – change the background color under the text to blend with the the photo nicely, or enter other adhoc text along with keywords too.

One modification related to the background color,  is use the color picker and grab a suitable color from the image itself.   Click in the color swatch and hold down Shift while you drag the mouse into the image.  Release when you have a color you want to use as the background.  As you move your mouse around, you’ll notice the text color change between black and white, so your text stands out from the background color you’re selecting. (the eye dropper is about dead center on the images here).

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Some useful documentary applications :

  • Family reunions – get the people’s names on their photo so people remember distant relatives.
  • GPS / compass data for field work locations
  • Filenames / dates etc.  for reference

If you need even more flexibility for text addition actions without PS…  investigate “LR/Mogrify”.  It’s a plug-in to LR which you use via the Export menu to do similar things but with dramatically more flexibility in regard to opacity, text locations etc.,  check it out – you can do all kinds of text work, banners and such.  (It is donationware).  It uses a free library of programs called ImageMagick, which if you’re a script kiddie and love shell command batch files etc – you can customize to your heart’s content with or without the plug-in.   These screenshots were created using freeware called Greenshots.

I hope you found something of interest in this post.

posted by lstavast at 2:21 PM  
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