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The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book: Easing the Workflow

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In this excerpt from The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers, Martin Evening offers some tips and tricks for easing your workflow.
From the book

Making virtual copies

In addition to making snapshot versions, you can also create virtual copies of your master photos by going to the Library module and choosing Photo arrow.jpg Create Virtual Copy (cmd.jpg ' [Mac] or (ctrl.jpg ' [PC]). This creates a virtual copy version of the master image that is automatically grouped in a stack with the master photo (see Figure 6.99 and Figure 6.100). As the name suggests, you are making a proxy version of the master. It may look and behave like a separate photo, but is, in fact, a virtual representation of the master that you can continue to edit in Lightroom as if it were a normal image.

Figure 6.99

Figure 6.99 Virtual copy images are automatically stacked with the master file. When viewing the Library Grid view or Filmstrip, you can tell which images are virtual copies by the turned-page badge in the bottom-left corner.

Figure 6.100

Figure 6.100 As you make new virtual copies of a master file, these are automatically stacked with the original master image.

So, what is the difference between a virtual copy and a snapshot? Well, a snapshot is a saved history state that's a variation of the master. You have the advantage of synchronizing specific edit adjustments across all the snapshot versions but lack the potential to create multiple versions as distinct entities that behave as if they were actual copies of the master image. A virtual copy is, therefore, like an independent version of a snapshot, because when you create a virtual copy, you have more freedom to apply different types of edits and preview these edits as separate image versions. You could, for example, create various black-and-white renderings and experiment with alternative crops on each virtual copy version. Figure 6.101 shows how you might use the Compare view mode to compare virtual copy versions of a photo alongside the master version (or you could use the Survey view to compare multiple versions at once). Virtual copies also make it possible for you to create collections that have different settings. For example, you could use the Create Virtual Copy command to create black-and-white versions, as well as colorized versions from a master image, and then segregate these virtual copies into separate collections.

Figure 6.101

Figure 6.101 One of the advantages of having virtual copy versions of a master file is that you can explore applying different Develop settings and compare these against the original master.

You also have the freedom to modify the metadata in individual virtual copy images. For example, you may want to modify and remove certain metadata from a virtual copy version so that when you create an export from the virtual copy, you can control which metadata items are visible in the exported file. Let's say you are running a location scouting service and send out images to clients that show the properties you recommend as photographic locations. You would normally store all the relevant metadata about the location such as the address and zip code, but you would want to remove such commercially sensitive information when distributing these images to prospective clients.

Making a virtual copy the new master

Once you have created one or more virtual copies, you can choose the Photo arrow.jpg Set Copy as Master command to make any virtual copy version of an image become the new master version (and make the old master version become a virtual copy).

Synchronizing Develop settings

Now that we have covered all the main Develop controls, let's look at ways the Develop settings can be applied to multiple images. Whenever you have a selection of images active, the Previous button changes to show Sync (Figure 6.102), and clicking this button allows you to synchronize the Develop settings across two or more photos, based on the settings in the target (most selected) photo. In Figure 6.103, a number of photos have been selected in the Filmstrip, and if I were to click the Sync button, this would open the dialog shown in Figure 6.104, where you can then decide which settings are to be synchronized. Or, you can use the cmd-shift-s.jpg (Mac) or ctrl-shift-s.jpg (PC) keyboard shortcut to open the Synchronize Settings dialog. If you click the Check All button, everything here is checked, which, in some cases, is the easiest and most practical option. If you click Check None, you can then choose any subset of synchronization settings. Whether you choose to save everything or just a subset of settings, this will have important consequences for how the photos are synchronized. If you choose Check All, everything in the selected image will be synchronized. This might include the White Balance or Crop settings, and while these settings may be relevant for the target image, you won't always necessarily want to synchronize these across all the other photos. Sometimes you need to think carefully about which specific settings you should synchronize. If you don't, you may end up overwriting settings that should have been left as they were (although you can always recover a previous image version via the History panel on an image-by-image basis). For example, if your imported photos have the Camera Default settings applied for Sharpening, Noise Reduction, and Calibration, you will want to be careful not to overwrite these settings. Note that if you hold down the alt.jpg key, the Sync button loses the ellipsis, and clicking the button now bypasses the Synchronize Settings dialog and applies a synchronization based on the last used Synchronize settings. Also in this mode you'll see a Set Default button, which allows you to set the current Develop settings as the new default settings for files shot with this particular camera, plus this specific serial number and ISO setting. What gets set here all depends on how the preferences have been configured (see page 402).

Figure 6.102

Figure 6.102 When more than one photo is selected via the Filmstrip, clicking the Sync button (top, with an ellipsis) lets you synchronize images in that selection via the Synchronize Settings dialog. When you hold down the alt.jpg key, the ellipsis disappears (middle), and clicking this button bypasses the Synchronize Settings dialog (and uses the last used Synchronize settings). The switch on the side also allows you to turn this mode on or off and makes this option more discoverable. Finally, you can hold down the cmd.jpg key (Mac) or ctrl.jpg key (PC) to switch to the Auto Sync mode (bottom).

Figure 6.103

Figure 6.103 The Develop settings in the most selected photo can be synchronized with all the other photos in a selection by clicking the Sync button. The selected photos in the Filmstrip are indicated with a gray surround, and the most selected photo is the one with the lightest gray color.

Figure 6.104

Figure 6.104 In the Synchronize Settings dialog, use the Check All settings option with caution, since synchronizing everything may overwrite important Develop settings in the selected photos.

Auto Sync mode

If you cmd.jpg-click (Mac) or ctrl.jpg-click (PC) the Sync button, it switches to Auto Sync mode and stays as such until you click the Auto Sync button to revert back to Sync mode again. In Lightroom 3, you will notice a switch next to the Sync button. Clicking this has the same effect as switching you to Auto Sync mode, or you can use the cmd-shift-alt-a.jpg (Mac) or ctrl-shift-alt-a.jpg (PC) keyboard shortcut. In Auto Sync mode, you first make a selection of photos, and as you adjust the Develop settings for the most selected image, you'll see these adjustments propagated across all the images in the selection. Auto Sync, therefore, behaves a bit like a Quick Develop panel mode for the Develop module. Finally, there is the Reset button, which can be used to reset photos back to their Lightroom default settings.

Lightroom and Camera Raw

As you are probably aware, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw (as part of the Adobe Photoshop program) both share the same Camera Raw processing engine. This means that any development adjustments that are applied in one program can be recognized and read by the other. However, there are a few things you need to bear in mind here. Camera Raw development is mainly linked to specific versions of Photoshop. At the time of this writing, I anticipate that the launch of Lightroom 3.0 will coincide with a Camera Raw 6.1 update for Photoshop CS5. This will allow Photoshop CS5 users to access the latest auto lens corrections and perspective correction features that weren't included in the original Camera Raw 6.0 for Photoshop CS5. Therefore, full compatibility between Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 is guaranteed. Meanwhile, Photoshop CS4 users will have been provided with a Camera 5.7 update. Now, although Camera Raw 5.7 for Photoshop CS4 has the ability to read most Lightroom 3 edits, no further functionality was added to this particular version of Camera Raw for Photoshop CS4. Camera Raw 5.7 does enable the new auto demosaicing enabled in Camera Raw 6 and Lightroom 3, and it can read all the new Camera 6 settings, including those that are specific to Process Version 2010. You just won't be able to edit those new settings, and you won't be able to use Camera Raw 5.7 to update from Process Version 2003 to Process Version 2010. Another key thing to point out is that the latest auto lens corrections and perspective correction settings applied in Lightroom 3 won't be readable in Camera Raw 5.7. The upshot of all this is that if you want Camera Raw to allow the same full editing as you have in Lightroom 3, you will at some point need to upgrade to Photoshop CS5.

Viewing Lightroom edits in Camera Raw

The main point to remember is to always save the metadata edits out to the files' XMP space if you want Camera Raw to be able to read the Develop adjustments that have been applied in Lightroom. If you don't do this, the edit changes you make in Lightroom cannot be read by Camera Raw. (But do take note of the points made above regarding Photoshop Camera Raw and Lightroom compatibility.)

Viewing Camera Raw edits in Lightroom

If you want your Camera Raw edits to be visible in Lightroom, you need to make sure that the image adjustments applied in Camera Raw are also saved to the file's XMP space. To do this, launch Bridge and choose Camera Raw Preferences from the Bridge menu. This opens the dialog shown in Figure 6.105, where you need to select "Sidecar .xmp files" from the "Save image settings in" menu.

Figure 6.105

Figure 6.105 To keep the Camera Raw edits in sync with Lightroom, you need to make sure that the Camera Raw settings are always saved to the sidecar .xmp files.

Keeping Lightroom edits in sync

If Lightroom detects that a file's metadata has been edited externally, it should display a metadata status conflict warning badge in the thumbnail cell (Figure 6.106). Clicking this badge opens the dialog shown in Figure 6.107. If you see no warning but have good reason to believe that the metadata has been updated, then choose Metadata arrow.jpg Read Metadata from files (in the Library module), or Photo arrow.jpg Read Metadata from file (in the Develop module). Alternatively, choose Library arrow.jpg Synchronize Folder (Figure 6.108). The Synchronize Folder command also runs a quick check to make sure that everything is in sync between Lightroom and any edit changes that may have been applied externally.

Figure 6.106

Figure 6.106 When there is a metadata status conflict due to a photo's metadata having been edited externally, you'll see an exclamation point or upward arrow badge warning. This is assuming that you have the Unsaved Metadata option checked in the Library View: Grid View options (see page ).

Figure 6.107

Figure 6.107 The metadata status change warning dialog.

Figure 6.108

Figure 6.108 The Synchronize Folder command can run a quick scan for updates.

Synchronizing Lightroom with Camera Raw

  1. This shows a simple illustration of how to keep a set of photos in sync when switching between Lightroom and Camera Raw. This shows a selection of photos in Lightroom that have been optimized for the best tone contrast and color.
  2. I opened the same photo selection in Camera Raw, converted one of the images to black and white, and synchronized this setting across all the selected photos.
  3. When I returned to Lightroom, the "out-of-sync" photos displayed a metadata status change warning icon with an exclamation point, indicating a metadata conflict. I clicked the warning icon and then clicked the Import Settings from Disk button in the dialog shown here to import the Camera Raw adjusted settings into Lightroom.
  4. The externally adjusted settings now appeared updated in Lightroom.

Copying and pasting Develop settings

Another way to synchronize images is to copy and paste the Develop settings from one photo to another (Figure 6.109). In the Develop module, select a photo from the Filmstrip and click the Copy button (or use the cmd-c.jpg [Mac] or ctrl-c.jpg [PC] shortcut). This opens the Copy Settings dialog shown in Figure 6.110, which allows you to specify the settings that you want to copy. Note that if you alt.jpg-click the Copy button, you can bypass this Copy Settings dialog completely (or use cmd-alt-c.jpg [Mac] or ctrl-alt-c.jpg [PC]). So, if you had previously clicked the Check All button to check all the settings in the Copy Settings dialog, alt.jpg-clicking the Copy button copies all settings without showing the dialog. Once you have copied the Develop settings, you can then select a photo or a selection of photos via the Library module Grid view or Filmstrip and click the Paste button to apply the current copied settings (or use the cmd-v.jpg [Mac] or ctrl-v.jpg [PC] shortcut).

Figure 6.109

Figure 6.109 The Copy and Paste buttons are located in the bottom-left in the Develop module.

Figure 6.110

Figure 6.110 This shows the Copy Settings dialog where you can check the items that you wish to copy.

Copying and pasting settings via the Library module

When working in the Library module, you will need to use a different set of shortcuts: cmd-shift-c.jpg (Mac) or ctrl-shift-c.jpg (PC) to copy the settings, cmd-shift-v.jpg (Mac) or ctrl-shift-v.jpg (PC) to paste, and cmd-alt-v.jpg (Mac) or ctrl-alt-v.jpg (PC) to apply the previous settings.

Applying a previous Develop setting

As you navigate the Filmstrip, Lightroom temporarily stores the Develop settings for each photo you click, thereby allowing you to apply a previous Develop setting to any photo. Note that when you are applying a previous Develop setting, there is no Copy Setting dialog. When you apply a Previous setting, it applies all the Develop settings from the previously selected photo.

  1. Select a photo in the Filmstrip, and Lightroom automatically stores the Develop settings as a Copy All setting.
  2. If you select another photo in the Filmstrip and click the Previous button, this pastes all the Develop settings from the previously selected photo.

Saving Develop settings as presets

Copying and applying settings is useful in the short term, but if you create a setting that you are likely to reuse again, it is a good idea to save it as a preset. Figure 6.111 shows an expanded view of the Develop module Presets panel, in which you can see a list of custom preset settings. The Lightroom Presets folder is installed with Lightroom and has enough presets to help get you started, but you can add your own Develop presets by clicking the plus button at the top of the Presets panel. This opens the New Develop Preset dialog shown in Figure 6.112, where you can choose which settings you want to include in the preset. When you have decided which settings to check, give the preset a name, choose a folder location to save the preset to, and click the Create button to add it as a new preset to the list. This can be useful for all sorts of reasons. For example, it is a tedious process trying to access the different camera profiles listed in the Camera Calibration panel Profile drop-down menu. Rather than have to click through each one in turn to see what effect it has, why not create a Develop preset in which only the calibration setting is saved for each profile option? Do this and, as you roll the mouse over the list of presets, you get to see an instant preview in the Navigator panel, as shown in Figure 6.111.

Figure 6.111

Figure 6.111 As you roll the cursor over the Presets list, the Navigator updates to show a quick preview of how the Preset settings will affect the image. You can update existing settings by holding down the ctrl.jpg key (Mac) or right-clicking (PC) to reveal a contextual menu for the presets. Choose Delete or click the minus button to remove a selected preset from the list.

Figure 6.112

Figure 6.112 In the New Develop Preset dialog, check the items you want to include in a preset, give the preset a name, and decide which folder to save the preset to.

The default Lightroom Presets folder cannot be edited—you can't delete or add to the presets that are in this folder. But any new presets you do add are automatically placed in a folder called User Presets. If you want to organize your Develop settings better, I suggest you place your presets into different folder groupings. You will notice in Figure 6.113 that I added a number of preset folders, which always appear listed in alphabetical order below the Lightroom Presets folder.

Figure 6.113

Figure 6.113 You can use the contextual menu to import new presets. If you have been sent a Develop preset or have just downloaded one, use the contextual menu shown here to select Import and then locate the preset (or presets) you wish to add.

To add a new folder to the Presets list, right-click anywhere inside the Presets folder to open a contextual menu like the one shown in Figure 6.113, and choose New Folder, which opens the New Folder dialog (Figure 6.114). Give the folder a name, and it will appear added to the Presets list. You can now organize your presets by dragging them into the folders that you have just created.

Figure 6.114

Figure 6.114 You can also use the above contextual menu to add a new folder to the Presets list.

Auto Tone preset adjustments

The Auto Tone option is potentially useful for those times when you want to include an Auto Tone adjustment as part of a preset. In some instances, this might be considered a useful item to include in a preset because you can get Lightroom to combine an autocorrection in combination with other types of Develop adjustments. On the other hand, because it can lead to different tone settings being applied to each image, this might not always produce the results you were after, (even though the Auto Tone logic has been improved in Lightroom 3). So, just be aware of this when you include Auto Tone in a saved Develop preset setting, and keep in mind that the results you get may sometimes be unpredictable.

The art of creating Develop presets

Lightroom Develop presets have proved incredibly popular. Lots of Lightroom users have gotten into sharing their preset creations. If you are looking for inspiration, visit Richard Earney's Inside Lightroom site (, where there are lots of different presets that you can download and import into the Develop Presets panel. While it is possible to encapsulate a complete Develop module look in a single preset, it seems to me that the best way to use Develop presets is to break them down into smaller chunks. In my experience, the trick is to save as few settings as possible when you create a Develop preset. What we often see are Develop presets where the creator checks too many boxes and ends up with a preset that adjusts not just the settings it needs to adjust, but other settings, too. In many cases, it is not always obvious which settings a Develop setting is meant to be altering, and applying the preset may overwrite settings that it shouldn't. Or, the creator includes White Balance or Exposure settings that may have been relevant for the pictures the creator used to test the Develop setting with, but they are not necessarily suited for other people's photographs. In the following section, I have provided a quick guide on how to create neatly trimmed Develop presets.

Creating a new Develop preset

  1. Here is a photograph that I had adjusted in the Develop module, where I wanted to save the current Develop settings as a new preset.
  2. I clicked the Presets panel's plus icon to open the New Develop Preset dialog and checked only those settings that were relevant for this effect. I named this preset setting Muted Color Contrast and saved it to the Special effects folder.

Understanding how presets work

Even with a Develop setting like the one described below in Figure 6.115, it can still get confusing, because the Develop preset is doing several things in one shot. It is raising the threshold for the black clipping point and boosting the contrast; plus, it is reducing the color saturation and applying a split tone color effect. Incorporating all these Develop adjustments into one preset has its disadvantages, because this can lead to messy situations like the one described in Figure 6.116.

Figure 6.115

Figure 6.115 This chart summarizes the outcome of the "Muted Color contrast" Develop preset adjustment. In the Final settings row, the green tick marks represent the settings that were adjusted in the original image version and that remained unaltered afterward. The black tick marks represent those settings that are new and have been changed. This illustrates what can be regarded as a "clean" preset—it adjusts only the settings that need to be adjusted.

Figure 6.116

Figure 6.116 This chart shows you what can happen when you apply a series of Develop presets. In the Final settings row, the green tick marks represent the settings that were adjusted in the original image version and remained unaltered at the end. The black tick marks again represent the settings that are new or have been changed. However, the red tick marks represent the settings that have changed cumulatively during the process of trying out different Develop presets (but which were not meant to part of the last applied preset). What this highlights is the fact that when "Infrared color effect" was applied as a Develop setting, some of the other Develop settings (that were not part of the "Infrared color effect") had already been altered by the previously selected Develop presets.

How to prevent preset contamination

As I mentioned earlier, one way I like to work with presets is to trim them down so that each preset performs a discrete task, such as a black-and-white conversion or a split tone coloring effect. That way, I find I have more options to combine different settings and prevent getting into a situation like the one shown in Figure 6.116, where the end result was a contaminated mess. For example, I may apply one preset to modify the contrast and another preset to apply a coloring effect. I then keep these presets stored in separate preset folders so that it is easy for me to locate all the presets that can be used for applying different black-and-white conversions or cross-processing effects. The Figure 6.117 chart summarizes the steps that are described over the next few pages. You will notice how I added a series of presets to build a combined effect. Therefore, when applying different split tone effects I can click each of the presets in turn to see a full-screen view of what the end result will look like, but without fear of messing up any of the settings that have been applied already.

Figure 6.117

Figure 6.117 The alternative approach is to break down the Develop presets into smaller chunks so that you apply a sequence of Develop presets to build an effect. This chart summarizes the series of Develop preset steps that are applied in the step-by-step example that begins on the opposite page. The final settings include a couple of red tick marks where the settings have changed cumulatively, but this does not matter as much as in the Figure 6.116 example because the whole point is to build up the settings one step at a time. You will notice that I included a *RESET Special Effects step. This preset is designed to cancel out previous preset settings and, therefore, acts like a "clear settings" button. To illustrate this, I have used crosses to indicate that these items are returned to their default settings.

  1. To begin with, I tried out some tone adjustment presets and selected a Light Contrast tone curve preset to apply a moderate contrast boost to the original color version of this image.
  2. I also wanted to try out some special effects coloring presets, so I selected a "Cold tone" preset from my Special Effects preset folder. Should I wish to reset the preset settings used here and move on to try something different, I have included a RESET setting in each folder so that I can reset the relevant sliders to 0.
  3. After resetting the "Cold tone" preset, I expanded the Black & White preset folder and applied a B&W Infrared preset to see what this conversion looked like.
  4. Next I went to the "Split toning" folder and tried different split tone presets. Note that if you have the Navigator panel open, you can hover the mouse over the preset list to preview each preset effect before applying.
  5. In the end, I opted for a "Cool tone" split tone preset and finished off by adding a Burn Corners preset from the "Tone adjustments" folder.

Reset settings

I will end this section by elaborating a little more on the use of the Reset preset settings such as the one referred to in Step 2. With the Develop preset folder structure I use here, I have added a preset to each folder that is named *RESET. This is a preset setting that undoes any of the presets that have been applied in that particular folder. In the case of the Black & White folder, I have a preset called *RESET black and white that switches from Black & White to Color mode. I created it by selecting a photo in color mode and creating a new preset in which I checked only the Treatment (Color) check box (as shown in Figure 6.118). For all the other preset folders, I similarly created presets such as a *RESET Split Tone setting that uses zero Split Tone Saturation settings. The naming of these presets isn't critical; I prefer to use all caps so that the reset presets stand out more, and I place an asterisk at the beginning of the name so that the reset preset always appears listed first in each of the preset folders.

Figure 6.118

Figure 6.118 Here is an example of a preset that I created for converting a B&W setting back to Color mode again. All I had to do was select any Color mode image and save a preset with the Treatment (Color) box checked.

How to set default camera Develop settings

Any feature that saves you time is always welcome. Very often you will find that as you import pictures from a particular camera shot at a certain ISO speed, you end up needing to apply the same Develop settings. For example, if you shoot with more than one digital camera, you may want to create a custom camera calibration setting for each separate camera body. In addition to this, you may want to set different levels of noise reduction for specific ISO settings. You can do all this by creating camera default settings.

  1. One way you might go about doing this would be to gather a collection of sample photos that were shot with a particular camera and are representative of how the camera performs at different ISO settings. Then work on each photo to achieve the best Noise Reduction and Camera Calibration. As you do this, save the settings as new presets, but be sure to check only the items that are relevant for inclusion in the Develop preset settings, such as Noise Reduction, Process Version, and Calibration. You don't want to check any of the other items that are available here because you don't want a camera-specific Develop setting to affect more than the above Develop settings.
  2. Go to the Lightroom Presets preferences and make sure that "Make defaults specific to camera ISO setting" is checked. It is important that you do this before proceeding to the next step. You can also check "Make defaults specific to camera serial number" if you want the settings to be camera-body specific.
  3. Now go back to the photo you worked on in Step 1, and choose Develop arrow.jpg Set Default Settings. This opens the dialog shown here, where you need to click the Update to Current Settings button. Do this and Lightroom automatically makes this the default setting for all newly imported photos that match the same criteria of matching camera model, serial number, and ISO setting. But remember that you have created only what amounts to a default setting. If you were to choose a specific setting in the Import Photo dialog, or apply a Develop setting later that included Noise Reduction, Chromatic Aberration, Lens Vignetting, or Calibration subsettings, these settings would override the camera default setting values.
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  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020