Article – LR – Judging Using Lightroom

Camera Club Judging Using Lightroom

By Douglas Wade

I have been the chairperson for our local Antelope Valley Fair for the past 3-4 years and have been the one to secure 3 judges per year, from multiple sources, to judge ~2000 photographs with over 1500 prints and close to 450 digital images, which are displayed on large calibrated monitors.

While we started out using Adobe Bridge, and it worked pretty darn good, this article is focused on using Lightroom, which is even better, to judge the digital entries. Using either one of those, if using LIghtroom, the judging process has many similarities.

Load Downloaded Images into Lightroom

Confirm the Lightroom judging catalog is open, example, AVF-2016.lrcat.

Open and load the images into Lightroom. On the left panel, navigate to the folder location of the images to be judged and select that folder.

Make sure Include Subfolders is checked (top left).

Lightroom Maintenance

Since you are importing images from others, from all over the place with their metadata, you will need to do a reset. Lightroom will want to import their metadata, like stars and labels (colors) created by the image makers. This information will need to be reset prior to the competition. Start with a clean slate of image data. Do a reset.

For example: A set of Smart Collections (Judging) was created to help fix issues.

They revealed exhibitors personal star settings. Select all images (from the Folders), and click (0) and that will reset all star ratings to 0. All images should be set to Star – 0 in the Smart Collection area.

Fixing Metadata

Sometimes when working with other’s images, the Metadata is not current. Start with by looking at the Smart Collection called Metadata is not Up to Date.

It shows 426 “out of sync”, see “Metadata Status Has been changed” on the Metadata panel in the Library Module.

Select all the images from the results of the Smart Collection, “! Metadata is not Up to Date”, in the grid view and then click on the Library module, “Metadata Status has been changed” pull-down.

After a moment, Lightroom will update the Metadata and write that information into each file.

Fixing the Wrong Orientation

Click for any image that is not properly oriented (e.g., portraits) and correct (turned sideways). If found, select image and rotate. On the main menu, Photo > Rotate Left (CCW), shortcut ⌘[ or rotate the other direction ⌘].

View and Verify Content

All images are loaded and placed in the appropriate folders, such as skill and class.

View Options

Change the View Options View > View Options (Cmd-J), and make changes so the judges cannot see the maker’s name or other data.

Grid View

Loupe View

Judging Concepts for Lightroom

Select the first folder for judging, example,  Digital > DigitalJunior > CameraPhone

Judging starts to review the contents of a folder. Example, (type) digital (skill) Amateur, (class) CameraPhone. The folder is selected and the default grid (G) view is shown.

When a new class is selected, the images are shown in the grid veiw as an overview, so the judges can get a feel to the quantity and quality of the set. To decrease the grid size to show all images, use the shortcut, the minus (-) key to increase use the equal (=) key.

Hide the Panels

To hide the panels, use the Tab key. Tab again to have them return.

Display the Attributes from the Library Filter

To display the Attributes from the Library Filter, Ctrl-F and the attributes will be presented. Select any of the attributes needs to filter a view. Such as, Five Stars (1st place).

View the Images

Select the proper folder. Full View (F) key to black out the background, and hide the tools. If an image is not filling the screen, the image may have small resolution.

Numbers Exposed to the Judges

For our competitions, we do not allow any names in the filenames. The numbers exposed to the judges are generic and is not easily identifiable to the maker.


Star Rating

Each image is shown full screen for each Skill and Class. Hit the F key. If the judge considers it a contender, it gets a 1 Star. Filtering all 1 Stars will help the judge to narrow the select to assist in picking other recognitions.

The judge then ranks images with a goal of a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Honorable Mention

Each image that receives a rank gets a star rating.

  • 1 Star – Judges see as a contender (optional)
  • 2 Star – HM (Honorable Mention)
  • 3 Star – 3rd Place
  • 4 Star – 2nd Place
  • 5 Star – 1st Place

To assign a star use the Keyboard Shortcut (1 through 5). Set star rating and go to next photo use the Shift key with 1 through 5.

  • Shift + 1 – 5

Example type the Shift + 3 on the keyboard to assign the image a 3-star and it advances to the next image.

To clear an rating, use the 0 (zero) key

  • 0 Keyboard

Label Rating

The use of Label (colors) is used for special awards. These are optional.

  • “Red” – BOD – Best of Division
  • “Yellow” – BOS – Best of Show
  • “Green” – JC – Judges Choice
  • “Blue” – CC – Committee Choice
  • “Purple” – Sweepstakes

Keyboard shortcuts for Label (colors) is used for special awards.

  • Key 6 = red
  • Key 7 = yellow
  • Key 8 = green
  • Key 9 = blue
  • Purple is added manually
  • Assign a color label and go to next photo use the Shift + 6 – 9

To remove a color press the key again.

DQ an Image

On the keyboard use X (Reject) the photograph.

Move an Photograph to another Class

To move one image to another class, from Lightroom select the image (not the border) and move it into the proper folder.


When working with a folder of images, the images should be in grid view (G). Double click the first image to preview. Enter Fullscreen (F).

Do this until all the images in the set has been seen. The images are now ready for placing. Type (G) for the grid view, and allow the judge to rank the placings. If he/she wants to see an image again, double click and (F) full screen, until the ranking is complete.

The verification of the judges choices may be verbalized to other members journalling the results.

Verification After Judging

  • Star 1 = no award
  • Star 2-5 = Some award given
  • Labels (color) special awards, BOD, BOS, etc.. May also have stars

Journaling the Winners

When we judge a competition, each winner is announced out loud after the judge has made the choice. This allows the journaling in the competition listings. At our competitions, the maker and title are announced with the special placing and an appropriate ribbon (applause) is received.