Facebook Pixel 6 of Lightroom's Hidden Treasures

6 of Lightroom’s Hidden Treasures

Lightroom is very popular for post-processing lately. In this article I will go over a few of Lightroom’s hidden treasures. See if you use these, or maybe you have some others you can share with us in the comments section.

1. Virtual Copy

In Lightroom’s develop module you can have any number of something called Virtual copies. The advantage is that each copy can use a different arrangement of settings to make the image look different; thus you can compare several options to see which gives the best results.

Virtual copies are not a copy of the original image, but a set of instructions copied from the original file, to which further instructions are added. It is not a duplicate image file; it is only the instructions written previously on the original, copied, and kept as a separate instructional file format, very tiny in size. You can backtrack and start over, or you can continue editing where you left in the current virtual copy you are editing.

To create a new virtual copy Click Ctrl + ‘ on PC (Command + ‘ on Mac) OR right click the image thumbnail and choose “Create Virtual Copy”

In essence it is different instructional files acting on one single original image, to produce different images as per the different processing strategies you apply (you then need to export each to create separate final files). Virtual copies are an intelligent way to try out different things without duplicating your originals, and consuming hard disk space.

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This screen shot from filmstrip shows the Virtual Copies. The page flip symbol
(circled in red) on the bottom left corner of each image is the sign for Virtual Copy.

2. Soft Proofing

This has been one of the most sought after features in Lightroom for long time. Press “S” on your keyboard as you work in the Develop module and your working image’s background turns into paper white (you can change that as well). The photograph will appear as if it is on paper, and a notification shows “Proof Preview” on the top right of the image area.

To check if your image has any colour problems, take a look at the histogram. The clipping indicators are turned into two symbols; one on the right corner is a print colour warning, and the left one is a monitor colour warning. Too much of a particular colour in your image will give you a warning on the same histogram (click the paper and monitor symbol), that those colour regions are unable to make it into print medium. This means you have to reduce the colour intensity of that particular colour.

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This screen shot shows the paper symbol on top right and the monitor symbol on top left of the soft proofing window (both are circled in red).

By clicking “Create Proof Copy” you will be able to create a Virtual Copy of the present settings and after the correction you can compare it to the changes after correcting the colours. You can apply colour profiles too based on the printer you are using. Press “S” again to exit Soft Proofing mode.

3. Smart Previews

Smart Preview, as the name suggests, is a smarter way of working when you have hard drive space constraints (say you are working on your laptop but your files are in the external harddrive). Smart Preview creates high res – low size file which can be used for working purposes. The moment you want to export the photographs, connect your external hard drive and export it from the original.

This tool will be highly useful for people who have already accumulated a lot of files, and utilized hard disk space. The moment you import, the option will be there. If you click the tick box to create Smart Previews, Lightroom will create and store them in a separate folder where your working instructions (your LR catalog) will be stored. The moment you connect your external drive, you will have an option to discard the smart preview files. Before discarding, the instructions will all be written on to the original files.

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This screen shot shows the original file without Smart Preview

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This shows the screen for the same file with Smart Preview (circled in red)

4. Lights Out

One of the least used tools in Lightroom; comes with a simple shortcut. Simply press “L” on your keyboard and the entire screen dims (80% dim), except the image area. Press “L” again and the screen will go to pitch black except your image portion. The smart thing about this is that when you first press the “L” you can continue working with the 80% dimly lit, panel sliders. You can also set what percentage you want for your Dim Level by going to your Preferences settings (see below).


Set your Dim Level percentage in Preferences, here

When you press “F” for full screen you have to wait for resizing the image to full screen. But when you press “L” for lights off it is done in a snap.

5. Target Adjustment Tool (TAT)

This tool is available in the Develop module’s Tone Curve and Colours sections. This is one intelligent tool to adjust the tonal values directly on the image, when you do not know which sliders to adjust. You pick the tool from the panel and adjust the image directly by pressing and holding the mouse button, while you drag up or down as you may wish. The changes appear instantly as you drag.

It is available in the colour section as well, where you can adjust the colour values (Hue, Saturation & Luminance). Click the tool from the panel, place it over the image where you want to make adjustments, while pressing and holding the your mouse button. In B&W conversion you can also adjust the black, grey and white values by adjusting the tones darker or lighter, in a similar manner as you did for colour.

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This shows where to find the Targeted Adjustment Tool in the Curves panel

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When the tool appears with up and down arrow marks, as seen here, it means the tool is activated.

6. Visualize Spots

As you use your camera, with the passage of time, the sensor tends to accumulate dust over itself. The dust spots become visible on your image and reduce its quality and appeal. As there may be any number of reasons for not cleaning the camera sensor, every time you see a spot there is a tool in Lightroom to clean them, at the image level.

You are probably aware of the cloning and healing tool, which is on the top of the Develop module – second tool from the left, below the Histogram. You can use this tool for obvious reasons and also for correcting the sensor dust spots. Press “Q” (keyboard shortcut) to activate the tool and look at the bottom of the image (see below).

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This screen shot shows the image after the tool is activated

Click the check box adjacent to Visualize Spots and the image turns into an inverted monochrome one which show the dust spots more clearly (if you do not see the toolbar or that option press “T” to show the Toolbar). You can adjust the intensity of the brightness to find the dust spots using the slider next to Visualize Spots, on the toolbar. This is an easy way to find the dust spots and correct them by cloning the nearest best place.

Do you have any other Lightroom tips or hidden treasures that you use? Please share in the comments below.

For more on Lightroom check these articles:

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Navan Viswa
Navan Viswa

is from India residing in Chennai now. He does weddings, products, industrial projects and travel photography. He studied as a Civil Engineer and worked as one for 12 years, found that the job not of interest and his passion was aligned towards photography. So he quit his job and is now roaming with his camera for commissioned and non-commissioned works. You can see more of his writings on his blog and more photographs on his web page as well as 500px.

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