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Excire Search: A Groundbreaking Search and Auto Keyword Tool for Lightroom – Hands-On Review

For the past 15 years or so I’ve been helping people organize, backup and print their photographs. And the one thing that has been a challenge for almost everyone (including me!) is keywording. It’s just not a lot of fun (for most people) to go through thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of images and videos and assign appropriate keywords to them. But keywording images and videos can pay huge dividends in the long run because having a collection with good keywords means that you can more easily find images for personal projects, client work and stock photography licensing.

Face recognition inside of Lightroom and other programs has helped quite a bit, but it’s far from perfect. And of course, not every photo has a recognizable person in it, so we have been faced with a problem in need of a solution. Until now.

The solution I’m referring to is a Lightroom Classic CC plug-in called Excire Search. And it does more than just automatically create keywords.

What it Does

Excire Search works via a Lightroom plug-in to “initialize” or look through your image collection one image at a time so that it can then use the image information to both create keywords and allow for creative searches by keyword or even via a sample image uploaded from your computer. It can initialize 10,000-20,000 images per hour (according to the software’s developer), but it depends on your system and whether you have already created Smart Previews. I didn’t time the process exactly, but Excire Search Pro initialized just over 400,000 images in my catalog on a MacBook Pro over a period of 4-6 days (I stopped the process a few times to take my computer with me, and I had very few Smart Previews in my catalog before starting the process). While it was initializing, I was still able to work on my computer and inside Lightroom. You can run a new initialization at any time, and it will quickly recognize which photos have already been initialized.

In case you’d like a quick look at how good the automatic keywording can be, I was very impressed by what the software came up with for one of my photos that included hot air balloons (click on the image to see the keywords much larger):

Getting Started

Installing the Excire Search Plug-in, setting preferences and starting the initialization process takes just a few minutes, but it can be a bit confusing. After downloading the plug-in (it’s available for Mac and Windows), I would recommend viewing the following videos for step-by-step instructions. I’ve also included a screen shot of the main settings below:

Caption: I chose to use the Fast initialization option because of the size of my catalog, but you might choose to uncheck that box if you make a lot of edits (especially if you convert a lot of images to black and white without first making Virtual Copies). Because I don’t use many stacks (stacks are very useful if you shoot a lot of panoramas in sections or multi-image HDRs), I unchecked the third box. And because I have generated a lot of Smart Previews over the years, I chose to “Prefer” them when initializing because the makers of the application say that can speed up the initialization process.

As you can see in the above video, searching by example photo is like magic! You just choose an image from your library (or an external image), then navigate to Library>Plug-in Extras>Search by Example Photo (or choose one of the other two Search by Example Photo options). Choosing Search by Example Photo with Previous will use the Previous Settings, such as how many results to display and whether to reference the example photo’s content or color. You can also search by Keyword or for Faces. In case you are wondering what “Update Photos” means (it’s the last item on the list under Excire Search), if you make large color or density changes (or convert images to black and white), you may want to choose the photos on which you made those edits and select “Update Photos.” The Excire Search engine will then look at those photos again and create new keywords.

The Faces dialog box is so incredible to me. You can choose from a wide variety of different criteria, including the number of faces, an age range, male/female, and even whether or not people are smiling. I’ve included a screen shot below, and in my testing, it was extremely good at showing me images that closely matched what I requested (click on the image below to see the dialog box much larger). That being said, it was better at distinguishing between male and female faces for adults compared with children, which is very understandable (even the iPhone X’s face detection is less accurate with children’s faces compared with adult faces).

Pricing, Language and Availability (Plus a Special Offer for Our Readers)

Excire Search is available in two configurations: Excire Search (US $69) and Excire Search Pro (US $119). The plug-ins are identical except for the fact that Excire Search Pro draws from a larger group of keywords (about 500 vs. 125), and it also offers the ability to transfer keywords (individually or in bulk) that it creates into the Keyword List inside of a Lightroom catalog. For my workflow, the ability to transfer keywords is essential, so I am using Excire Search Pro.

Currently, the software is available in English and German. If you’d like to test out Excire Search or Excire Search Pro, visit this page for a free, fully functional 15 day trial. Also, if you decide to purchase Excire Search Pro, the company created a special 10% discount code for my readers: Just enter “AndrewPro10” (no quotes) at checkout.

I also noticed this text from the company’s site re: giving back: “A small portion of every purchased Excire Search download will be held in a special fund for support to a variety of nonprofits in the United States market. We’ll be developing our own Giving Back Advisory Board who will help us decide each year on a different charity needing more support.”

Conclusion

It’s difficult to express how happy I am with Excire Search Pro. It was like someone out there was listening to my prayers. (turns out it was a lot of very smart engineers!).  I was told that the company is always doing research and working on how they can improve the software, and I look forward to seeing how it develops over time.

Related Articles

One of the best things about the internet and blogs is that I can reference other articles about Excire Search that I found useful. One review of Excire search that’s at the top of my list is by Bryan Esler that appeared on the excellent photo website: photofocus.com. You can read his review here.  I’ve also had the honor of having a number of my articles published on the site over the years. There’s also a comprehensive article by the people who make Excire Search on the topic of speed and accuracy with different technologies that automatically generate keywords. You can find that article here.

If you’d like to test out Excire Search or Excire Search Pro, visit this page for a free, fully functional 15 day trial. And if you like it and decide to purchase the plug-in, there’s a special 10% discount code for our readers: Just enter “AndrewPro10” (no quotes) at checkout.


(Full Disclosure: Apart from being provided a license code for Excire Search Pro, I was not compensated in any way for writing this article. Please note that this article may contain affiliate links to the Excire Search website, which means that I may be compensated if a purchase is made after clicking through or by using a promo code. If you would prefer not to use my links, just visit your favorite search engine and type in: “Excire Search.”

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PhotoPlus Expo 2016 New York City – Registration Info, Free Exhibit Hall Passes and Tips

It’s that time again! The PDN PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo is returning to New York City. The conference runs from Wed.-Sat. 10/19-22 and the Expo runs from Thurs.-Sat. 10/20-22, 2016. If you love photography or video, this is a truly outstanding event and I highly recommend attending.

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There is a huge amount of free education on the show floor, as well as in the seminar rooms, and you will find many opportunities to take pictures of still life sets, models, action, etc).

There are also many great fee-based seminars happening, which you can find listed here.

And don’t miss the many, many opportunities to see stunning prints on all types of media. Here is a photo from Epson’s booth, which is always fantastic:

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The Epson booth at PhotoPlus Expo 2015

TIPS FOR THE SHOW

Last year, I wrote some Tips For Getting The Most From PhotoPlus Expo. You can find the article here. The tip about downloading the PhotoPlus Expo App is, in my opinion, a biggie. It really helps save time when navigating through the aisles, and in case you don’t read the other article, here is the link to download it for iOS or Android.

FREE PASSES

If you are looking for a promo code for a free pass for the exhibit hall, here’s one option that should work (code is SMILE): https://twitter.com/PhotoPlusExpo/status/785543858935435266

If that doesn’t work, just search the PhotoPlus Expo Twitter feed for more.

TEST DRIVE EVENT

There’s also a free Test Drive event happening on Wed. 10/19 from 4-7pm, which is a great way to see the latest and greatest gear (below is a post about it from the PhotoPlusExpo Facebook page):

LIVE TALKS ON THE SHOW FLOOR

One of my favorite parts of the show is listening to photographers from many different areas of expertise talk about their work. For example, here is a link to a PDF of the show schedule for Nikon’s booth this year.

Adobe will have 30 minute presentations all three days of the show at the Adobe Show Floor Theater. I’m sure these will be fantastic.

The folks at Photofocus.com will have a booth with Perfectly Clear, Platypod Pro, and Plotagraph. I’m particularly excited to be able to learn more about how to make Plotagraphs, which are “moving pictures” that can be made from single exposures.

And here is an announcement from Unique Photo’s Twitter feed. They always have great speakers at their booth:


PHOTO WALKS

A few years ago, PhotoPlus started doing photo walks. Here is another Facebook post with info about them:


MORE EVENTS

There is much more happening, and this page has a long list of events. One of them is the Power of Print Pavilion, sponsored by Canon. The company will be making free prints for attendees, and that page has all of the details. Prints will be output on Moab by Legion Paper or Innova Art paper.

And don’t miss the keynotes, which are free with your exhibit hall ticket. On Thursday from 12:30-1:30 PM, Graham Nash and Mark Seliger will share the stage. Graham Nash, along with R. Mac Holbert, helped pioneer the field of fine-art inkjet printing. I had the honor of visiting Nash Editions in California some time ago. Their original IRIS printer is currently housed in the Smithsonian Institution.  Here is an article about it.

And if you can’t get to the show this year, you’ll find a lot of info about new products (plus many special offers) on hardware and software from companies who are exhibiting at the event. The official PhotoPlus Expo Twitter feed is @PhotoPlusExpo (find it here), and their Facebook page can be found here.

If you see me there, please say hi. I look something like this! (this was from last year’s show).

photo by Whitey Warner

photo by Whitey Warner

And in case you don’t receive my free newsletters, you can start getting news, photo and printing tips and three one-hour Lightroom videos delivered to your in-box by signing up below (you can unsubscribe at any time and we respect your privacy):

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All the best, thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you at the show!

One Hour Lightroom Tips Video and Two Upcoming Workshops in NJ

Hello! It’s been a while since my last post here on ImagingBuffet.com. In addition to spending time with family, over the last few months, I’ve been experimenting with YouTube video as well as Facebook Live, and I’m learning a lot along the way. Our son Tyler is 12 now and he’s keeping us busy as school begins here in suburban New Jersey. Here’s a photo of our little man all dressed up with his Grandma Tessie at his Grandpa Bert and Grandma Tessie’s 50th Wedding Anniversary a few months back (this is a good example of using TTL metering with an external flash unit attached to the hot shoe on top of a camera):

photo © Andrew Darlow

photo © Andrew Darlow

I hope that the video below from a recent one hour Facebook Live event is useful as you navigate through Lightroom. After that, I have links to more information about two upcoming workshops in case you missed the announcements on my Facebook Photo Tips page.

In the video above (I recommend pressing the full screen arrow buttons for a better view), I cover these tips and more:

1. A few Lightroom Preferences that can make importing and navigating easier.
2. Some quick tips for viewing your images more effectively in the Library module.
3. How to avoid constantly switching from the Develop Module to the Library Module.
4. How to “paint” on keywords to make keywording “almost” fun!
5. How to edit multiple photos in the Develop module without pressing the Sync button.

Portrait Lighting & Lightroom Workshop in Berkeley Heights, NJ
Date & Time: Sunday, September 25, 2016, 10:30AM-5:00PM
Tuition: $169

I’m very happy to be returning to the NJ Media Center and having an opportunity to teach a new class that covers portrait photography and Lightroom workflow. Nancy Ori, an award-winning photographer and educator who many of you probably know, will be working with me to help you improve your portrait lighting and posing techniques. In the afternoon, we will gather in front of a large screen as I walk you through the steps I use in the Library and Develop modules inside of Lightroom to help you get the most from your portraits in a fast and efficient way. FOR A FULL DESCRIPTION OF THE WORKSHOP, VISIT THIS PAGE ON OUR MEETUP GROUP

A selection of my photographs to give you an idea of the types of portrait lighting that Nancy and I will be covering. Photographs © Andrew Darlow

Lightroom Print Workflow: How to Easily Match Your Screen to Your Prints in Princeton, NJ
Date & Time: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 7:30PM-9:30PM
Tuition: $25 plus $5 Materials Fee

I’m also very happy to be returning to the Princeton Photography Club to teach one of my favorite subjects: Fine-art inkjet printing. If you have a printer at your home and studio and would like to learn how to get better prints in a straightforward, repeatable way, and learn how to automate your workflow, this is the workshop for you. FOR A FULL DESCRIPTION OF THE WORKSHOP, VISIT THIS PAGE ON OUR MEETUP GROUP

If you are not able to attend either of these workshops, but would like to get notified immediately when new events are posted, you are invited to join our Meetup group here (there’s no fee to join).

NEW ONLINE VIDEO SHOW COVERING LIGHTROOM TIPS

Just one more thing. I recently launched a new online video show on YouTube called: Ask AndrewD About Lightroom for Mac Users. Each episode, I cover tips and techniques related to Lightroom. I tailor it to Mac users, but the vast majority of the information is cross-platform, so Windows users can also benefit from the information. If you’d like to take a look, here’s a link to the show’s website.