You've probably noticed that I started watermarking all the images in this column with my copyright.  And not just in one place.  I put it in six places which makes the image basically unusable to those who would use it without permission.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/1000th  ISO 100


Why Watermark?

You've probably noticed that I started watermarking all the images in this column with my copyright.  And not just in one place.  I put it in six places which makes the image basically unusable to those who would use it without permission.  At the same time the image is perfectly usable for the purposes of this column or to view in my galleries.

The last time I took the time to check there were over 1000 of my images being used on websites (no way to tell in publications unless you get lucky) without authorization.  That's money from my families pocket.  So, I decided to do my best to protect my images, and the images of any reader generous enough to share.  I did this through watermarking.


Why Lightroom?

I process 'most' of my raw images in Lightroom, and then final process 'most' of them in CS4 before re-importing them back into Lightroom.  I output "ALL" of my images for any of my uses through Lightroom.  If I need a jpeg, a slide show, an on-line gallery, a tiff, or even a PSD, I output it through Lightroom so Lightroom was a natural candidate to watermark my images.

It's certainly possible to watermark them with dedicated programs, in CS4, or many other programs, but  watermarking in Lightroom can be set up to automatically watermark images with a single click in the export box.  This makes it integral to my existing workflow without adding any other work but a single click of the mouse.  Perfect!

Also remember, text does not resize well.  If you output a 3000 pixel image with appropriate watermarks which are readable, and then resize the image to 600 pixels for web or email distribution, the text will be unreadable and unrecognizable as a watermark.  I wanted each and every size of image I exported to have the appropriately sized watermark clearly legible and easy to read.  Lightroom can do that.  Perfect!



Lightroom currently uses two methods for watermarking, and the yet to be released Lightroom Version 3 adds another.

  • You can add your image ownership data in the exfil data.  This works great with honest people, but it won't do anything to stop someone from stripping out that data and using your image.
  • You can use a "plug-in" that watermarks images.
  • Lightroom 3 Beta at this time will allow you to place a physical watermark on your images, but only one line.  This might change with the official release but we won't know that until the release.


Choice B, the use of a plug-in is hands down the best way to currently watermark images in Lightroom.


Which Plug-in?

There aren't many choices here.  Ideally the program would do exactly what I want, do it easily, install easily, and be free.  We can all dream, in real life there are usually compromises.

LR2/Mogrify from the Photographers Toolbox is my choice and once installed the compromises disappear.  Its a freeware program that you can register for a low donation through PayPal and I encourage you to do so.

LG2/Mogrify allows you to add borders, text annotations, graphic images, set the maximum file size (great for uploading to size restricted websites), and more.  It's really feature packed and once installed works both easily and flawlessly.


Installing LR2/Mogrify

If there is a 'problem area' with this plug-in then it's in the installation procedure and requirements.  It's complicated for the novice computer user, but not insurmountable.  If you follow the directions in order you'll get it done.


LR2/Mogrify must be installed in two parts.

      • The LR2/Mogrify plug-in itself
      • ImageMagick, another freeware command line utility

Go here to register and download LR2/Mogrify.  The minimum donation to get a registration code is $5 USD. This will be the best money you spent, you might want to consider a larger donation.

Then go here to download the appropriate version of ImageMagick.  Mac users can download from here.  And Unix users here.  

The most difficult part of this entire installation is choosing the right version of ImageMagick.  IF after your installation LR2/Mogrify doesn't work as it should there is a 99% chance you've installed the wrong version of ImageMagick.  Install another version over the old and try again.

The other 1% of the time you might need to install the Windows C++ 2008 package which is free from Microsoft.  You can get the x64 version here or the x32 version here.


Install in this order:

      • Visual C++
      • ImageMagick
      • LR2/Mogrify plug-in

Follow the installation details exactly.  The last step detailed in the installation instructions is activating LR2/Mogrify in Lightrooms Plug-in Manager.  Once this is done you're installed and ready to use LR2/Mogrify!


Using LR2/Mogrify

First you will need to set up the Mogrify configuration menu to include the location of ImageMagick on your system drive.


Mogrify Configuration


Next you will need to check and 'insert' the Morgrify modules you want to use.


Choosing options


This is the outer border menu showing the values I use on all the images in this column for outer borders.


Setting margins


This is the inner border menu showing the values I use on all the images in this column for inner borders.


Setting borders


This is where I set my Text Annotations that show up on all the images I use in this column.  Notice there are several adjustments.  Depending on how you want the watermark to appear you'll need to adjust these accordingly.  Also notice I have six individually assigned annotations.


Placin text


This is how I setup a graphical watermark when I use them.


Graphical Watermarks


This is the resizing menu.  This is very useful if you're outputting images for web use and want or need to stay within specific parameters.




This is the canvas menu.  You can put a background canvas on every image that will exceed your image size by a set amount.  This gives a type of framing effect which is nice if set up properly.


Mogrify Canvas


I always leave the sharpening options set to "no sharpening."  Sharpening lends a distinct look to your images so you'll want maximum control.


Sharpening options


This color space menu option comes in very handy when outputting images to color spaces not otherwise provided for in LR2.


Color space options


A simple to use method to adjust image saturation and brightness.


Color  processing options


That's it!  After selecting the modules you want, and filling in the values, you simply export your images.  Keep in mind that the last value used "sticks" so you won't need to enter it every time.  Basically once you get things set up the way you like them you won't need to do anything else but export the images.



LR2/Mogrify is both dirt cheap and easy to use once properly installed.  It works without error or issue.  It's well worth the rather clumsy installation procedure which should take less than 20 minutes of your time.

I encourage everyone to watermark their images these days.  Its common practice for less than honest web designers to cruise the image sites like Flickr, Pbase, and others and just take what they want without either permissions or compensation.  This is just plain wrong whether you're an amateur or a professional.