In this article, you’ll see how to use a new feature in Lightroom called Reference View to match your image processing.
Note: this feature is only available in the latest CC version of Lightroom.
Why might you need to match image processing?
Have you ever been working on a file and thought that it reminded you of another image that you’ve processed? So you find that photo, then copy and paste the settings. But, you can see they don’t quite look the same despite having the same settings. So you’re forced to jump between the two images to try and match their look. It’s tedious.
How about if you’re working on a fashion editorial and you need to have a cohesive look to the whole shoot? You used both natural light and flash, as well as being indoors and outdoors for the shoot. That’s a lot of jumping around images to get them to have a similar look and feel.
Let’s say you’ve shot Raw + Jpeg in-camera after changing a lot of camera settings. You now want to compare the two so you can make the processed Raw, look more like the in-camera JPEG. Perhaps you’d like to create a preset so that you can then automate this processing.
You could also be working on a long term project over months and even years. Having a similar look is critical to tie the project together. Each time you have to go back and try to get the images to match, even though you can’t just put them side by side when in the Develop module.
Or can you? Well since Lightroom 6.8, you can. In that release, Adobe added a new feature called Reference View. Reference View allows you to bring up another image beside the one you’re developing. You can zoom in and out, as well as check color values to try and match between the two photos.
Using Reference View
To open Reference View, go to the Develop Module and make sure the Toolbar is showing (T on your keyboard). Then click the [R|A] icon on the left side of the toolbar to activate Reference View.
You can also right-click on a file in the filmstrip and choose “Set as Reference Photo”. From the Filmstrip, drag another image to the blank reference pane. Alternately you can go to the Grid View in Library (Shortcut G), and right click on any file and then choose “Set as Reference Photo”.
By clicking on the arrow to the right of the Reference View icon, you can alternate between a side-by-side or top and bottom view.
You can zoom in and out of each photo separately, as well as move around the photo. This is useful for matching the brightness and colour of both the shadows and the highlights.
Watch the Histogram
If you look under the histogram you can see the RGB (red, green, blue) values for the pixel under the cursor. If you prefer to see LAB colors right-click on the Histogram and choose Show Lab Color Values.
When both your reference and the active image have the same dimensions, you’ll see two values for each channel. The first is the reference view, the second is the active photo. The values are read from the pixel under the cursor. If the photos have different dimensions, you’ll see “–” instead of number. As you hover over the reference view, the second digit will be –, while over the active photo, the first digit will be –.
All of the tools in Develop can be used with the Reference View, except for Crop. If you go to crop, you’ll get a warning to let you know you have to leave Reference View to make a crop.
In practice, zoom into the photos and make changes so that the numbers on similar areas of the photos are good matches. The longer you take, the closer it will be but often a few tweaks will get them into a more cohesive match.
You’ll also notice a lock icon in the toolbar. When you turn this on, it means your reference photo will remain selected even if you exit out of Develop. You can exit Reference View by clicking on the Develop Loupe icon in the toolbar, or by going to Library.
For the more visual among you, I’ve also made a video on using the Reference View in the Lightroom’s Develop module.
Have you tried Reference View yet? What are your thoughts? Do you find it helpful?