The Light table workspace allows the unstructured arranging of photos as you would have done with slides on a real light table some years ago.
As can be seen in the above example screen shot the layout has no real structure, you are free to drag and drop photos wherever you please within the bounds of the screen (they do however snap to a 100x100px grid).
As you can see I've organised a group of photos roughly according to the subject matter, African animals at the top, frogs and toads lower down, goannas below them, kangaroos at the bottom etc.
This sort of arrangement would be a typical first pass at sorting some photos for submittal to a client.
Number of photos allowed
A "light table" can have up to 1000 photos, however it is not practical to work with that many on a single screen so each screen is limited to 100 photos.
You can however have 10 screens and for these I use the "stack" metaphor. That is you can have stacks of up to 100 slides on the side of the light table and these stacks can be "moved" onto the light table much as we used to move slide sleeves from the side of the table to the lit surface.
At the left of the screen can be seen the stacks.
In this case there are only 42 slides being worked with so a single stack is all that is required.
Clicking on any stack icon will display the photos in that stack in whatever position they were in last time they were viewed.
This remembering of positions applies across invocations of the program, all stack information is recorded in a database so the next time you view a light table everything is where you left it.
Moving photos on the light table
You move a single photo by simply dragging and dropping as is normal for a windows program.
Here we see that I've spotted a photo of a seal in with the kangaroo shots. I drag it away and the rectangle follows the mouse.
When I drop the photo it moves to a new position.
Notice that it has snapped to the grid and is actually directly above it's previous position despite me dropping it slightly to the right.
You can also move multiple photos by drawing a marquee around them and dragging as before.
Outlines of all the photos are drawn as you drag so you can see if they will fit in the intended position (it's a bit kludgy at present as it draws the 100x100px cell rather than the actual photo, I'll work on that).
Moving photos between stacks
It's an easy matter to move photos between stacks. You just drag and drop them onto a stack icon at the left of the screen.
The photo (or photos) will be moved from the current stack to the target stack and placed at the bottom right of the screen on the new stack.
If the new stack was empty the first photo that was dropped becomes the icon photo for that stack.
Moving photos to another stack can also be a good way to temporarily remove them from the selected photos, the possible rejects can be moved off the screen but easily brought back again if you change your mind.
I have made an initial attempt at providing a loupe for the light table. When enabled the loupe will display an enlarged version of the photo on the screen when you mouse over a thumbnail.
Obviously this might cover some of the thumbnails but the loupe can be dragged to any position on the screen.
This is not a 1:1 loupe as is common with other programs because SiiMAN doesn't have immediate acccess to the original files.
Loading a light table
Previously created light tables are loaded onto the screen by clicking their name in the panel at the left of the screen or by using the "File>Open light table" menu item.
Creating a new light table
A new light table can be created from the tagged photos in the Workbench or by scanning a folder to get filenames.
This second option is useful when you have a folder of photos that were used for a specific purpose and you want to work with the images from that folder.
Creating a slide show
All the photos in a light table can be used to create a slide show. There are two methods to do this.
You can send the photos to the slide show workspace by simply clicking on the "Slideshow" menu item at the top of the screen. When you do this a list of files is sent to the Slideshow workspace, the photos are sorted by their position on the screen firstly and then by the stack they are in.
The sort order is top-left to bottom-right, stack 1 to stack 10.
This is also the only way to get a slide show in a random order from the Workbench.
This method creates a slide show within the SiiMAN environment but what if you need a folder with photos for an external slide show application?
The "File>make slide show" menu item will copy large JPEGS of all the light table photos to a folder of your choosing. The order that are copied is the same as described above but to ensure that the photos are viewed in the correct order a 3-digit number is prepended to the filename.
Thus when viewed with a file browser or other application all photos will be ordered the same as they were on the light table.
Below we see the results of trying to create a slide show folder of images from the example light table we have been using.
Note that the current version will only copy JPEGs from the "large JPEG" folder for a slide show and that in this case many of the photos didn't have a large JPEG to copy so some errors were raised.
Note also the filenames have the sequence number prepended, for example 12928 has been copied to a file called 037-12928.
Sorting and rearranging a light table stack
There are three commands that will sort or otherwise rearrange the photos in a stack.
Sort stack to original order — This will arrange the photos in numerical order as they were first imported to the light table.
Neaten slides — This will arrange the photos in neat rows and columns but it won't change the order. Basically all slides are moved to the left.
Pack slides — This option will pack all the photos half on top of one another to give room do some manual rearranging.
Note that the slides are in the same relative positions, they have just been "bunched up". Photos can be moved around in this mode as with the normal display, it's just that you have more room to move.
When finished the photos can be "unpacked" to normal positions.
Tagging light table photos in the Workbench
All the photos on a light table can be tagged in the Workbench workspace. This allows the final selection to be used for other purposes in the Workbench, say to add them to a collection or to use one of the copy functions such as "Collect hi-res files" to get the original images from an external hard disk or "Copy tagged files" to copy preview JPEGs to a folder.
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