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In what situations does it work well? Or not work well? How do you use it to organise your photos?

In what situations does "Auto-stack by capture time" work well?

Note that I'm not talking about stacking as a way to combine multiple images into one, like focus stacking.

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There are several times when I find this useful:

  • When shooting RAW+JPEG, I stack them together. Auto-Stacking gets this perfectly since these files have exactly the same time-stamp. Note that on some modes, Lightroom only shows one or the other, so be sure to select Treat RAW and JPEG as Separate Files.
  • When shooting a subject, I sometimes end up with multiple superb images of the same subject with nearly identical composition or exposure parameters. Those I manually stack.
  • When shooting continuous or automatically bracketing, stacking makes the folder visually smaller and easier to see images that are truly different. This has an even greater impact when doing an HDR Panorama. Stacking merges each bracket and then I can see better how the images fit together in the Panorama. This one is a good candidate for Auto Stacking too.
  • Manually, I stack Virtual Copies of the same image which I cropped differently to print at various aspect-ratio.

The basic goal here is to reduce visual duplication, so I can see better the collection rather than lots of similar images. It is to avoid Not seeing the forest for trees.

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I use stacking purely for images that will (or have been) merged into a HDR image (either within Lightroom or externally with e.g. Enfuse) or a panorama image (again, either within Lightroom or externally with e.g. Hugin).

I'll have the final composite image as the top image in the stack, meaning that I only ever see the originals if I choose to open the stack.

Also means that if the stacks are collapsed and I select all images in the folder for e.g. exporting, I only get the composite images exported and not the originals, which is generally what I want to happen.

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  • +1 because stacking to avoid having to manually "deseelct" the originals of HDRs, Panoramas and externally edited images is a great value of the Stacking feature.
    – Jahaziel
    Oct 18, 2015 at 22:32
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Off the top of my head (I'm assuming you mean stacking feature within the filmstrip, not the computational photography techniques which you cannot do in plain Lightroom-5):

I sometimes use stacks simply to have less scrolling to do in the filmstrip.

It is useful, for examples, when you have shot 360° panoramas where the frames overlap to some amount and you have say 10 shots of the same panorama. Stack them => decrease the scrollbar width 10-fold.

The same holds for HDR images where you have 3 or 5 exposures of the same subject. Stacking these pictures reduces the width of the filmstrip bar considerably.

Maybe this is related to your "Auto-stack by capture time" subquestion. Modern cameras with HDR-bracketing (or in fact any type of bracketing) create lot of pictures by multiple exposure within the fraction of a second.

Same use-case holds for focus-stacking, whenyou have 10-250 shots of the same insect, or droplet, or whatever. Stack them, save space.

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