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Im using Adobe Lightroom 5.7.1 (but plan to upgrade to Lightroom 6) I have about 50 photographs that Im trying to sell, I need to crop the images to different aspect ratios for displaying on website and for sending to printers a greeting cards. I realize I can resize as part of export but that stretches/shrinks image and I want to crop so the image is not distorted so I create virtual copies of each image and then copy the copies to new colections, I have a 3:4 collection, square collection and 1:1.414 (A6) collection.

My problem is that given 50 images in starting folder if I make virtual copies of all, i then have to drag them one by one to the 3:4 collection. Then make another set of virtual copies and copy them to square collection and so on. Im finding it very error prone and think that either I shoudn't be using virtual copies in the first place or if I should there must be an easier way to do this ?

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You wont get around using virtual copies as you have to tell Lightroom how your cropped version should look like. This is actually very efficient, as the virtual copy saves memory by adding a different changeset on the same base image used in your original version.
An alternative way would be to do the cropping as last processing step. Make a snapshot for each cropped version. That way you would avoid virtual copies, but switching between those versions as well as the organization would be cumbersome

When it comes to collections I suggest using smart collections. There is already a very detailed answer for this. As you can see there, it is not possible to filter for the aspect ratio used for cropping with conventional methods. The shortest way would be to tag your pictures with their aspect ratio ("AspectRatio 1:1") and set up a smart collection for each aspect ratio with the filter set up for the corresponding tag.

  • Good advise and Im happy to use Virtual copies by original problem was that having made virtual copy of 50 files how do I just select those fifty rather than the original fifty in order to change the aspect, but Ive now realized they are already selected so as long as I do something with them then such as tagging with aspect ratio then I can use them with smart collection. – Paul Taylor Oct 27 '15 at 21:08
  • If you usually have multiple photos to crop, then your described way would be the best solution without further tools ( selecting all > virtual copy > tag selected ). A LUA Script/Plugin could do this with one click for a set of aspect ratios, but would require a bit of programming. – Grebu Oct 27 '15 at 21:23

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