Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Photography > Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

The “No Risk” Way to Try Different Versions of Your Photo

Remember the portrait we edited earlier? Well, what if you wanted to see a version in black and white, and maybe a version with a color tint, and then a real contrasty version, and then maybe a version that was cropped differently? Well, what might keep you from doing that is having to duplicate a high-resolution file each time you wanted to try a different look, because it would eat up hard drive space like nobody’s business. But luckily, there’s a way to create versions you can experiment with that don’t eat up your hard drive space.

  • Step One. So, here’s the scoop: if you want to experiment and create some different looks for your photo, rather than duplicating your RAW, TIFF, or JPEG file each time you want to save a new look, instead you’re going to make a “virtual copy.” (You create a virtual copy by going under the Photo menu in the Library module and choosing Create Virtual Copy, as shown here.) These virtual copies look and act the same as your original photo, and you can edit them just as you would your original photo, but here’s the difference: it’s not a real file, it’s just a set of instructions, so it doesn’t add any real file size. That way, you can have as many of these virtual copies as you want, and experiment to your heart’s content without filling up your hard disk.
  • Step Two. When you create a virtual copy, that copy appears right next to your original photo. You’ll know which version is the copy because the virtual copies have a curled page icon in the lower-left corner of the image (circled in red here) in both the Grid view and in the filmstrip. (Note: To delete a virtual copy, just click on the virtual copy and press the Delete [PC: Backspace] key, and it’s gone—no warning dialog, no nuthin’.)
  • Step Three. Now you can experiment away, with multiple virtual copies of your original photo at no risk to your photo or your hard drive space. So, pick one of your photos, make a virtual copy, then change the white balance setting of that copy (as shown here) just so you can see the difference. Here, the original photo is on the left and the virtual copy, with the white balance change, is on the right. At this point, if you want to try other looks for your photo, you can either: (a) go back to your original photo and make another virtual copy, or (b) make a copy of the virtual copy where you just changed the white balance (that’s right—you can make copies of your virtual copy).
  • Step Four. Click back on your original photo, and then choose Create Virtual Copy (from the Photo menu) two times in a row to create two more virtual copies. Click on the first copy, and increase the Exposure amount in the Quick Develop panel, so the photo looks lighter (as seen here, bottom left). Now click on the other virtual copy, and then click the Grayscale button (as shown) to see a version in black and white (seen at the bottom right). Now, let’s say that you really like the edits you made to one of the virtual copies. Now what? Well, you can do one of two things: (1) you could copy the settings you used (using one of the techniques you learned in the previous tutorial) and paste them on the original photo, or (2) you can open the virtual copy in Photoshop (it creates a real copy of your original file and applies your editing instructions before it opens in Photoshop), or click to export the photo, where it creates a real copy with those settings that will be saved.
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account