Color Mismatch

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Today’s Question: When I modify a photo in Lightroom using “Develop” and then go back to “Library” it changes the adjustments like a preset is being automatically applied. I have not been able to turn this off. Any suggestions?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While there are differences in how the preview images are rendered by Lightroom for the Library versus Develop modules, in most cases if there is a significant change in appearance it is caused by an incorrect display profile configuration. This can generally be resolved with excellent results by calibrating your monitor display.

More Detail: The preview in Lightroom’s Develop module is the most accurate preview, because it is rendered in real time based on the original capture combined with the adjustment settings you have applied. In the other modules a JPEG preview is generated and stored in a preview cache, in order to speed up display performance.

In some cases there will be minor differences in the previews from these modules. However, with a calibrated display my experience is that there is no visible difference between the modules. This underscores the importance of display calibration, even in this modern era of digital photography. In fact, I’ve published a blog post about how it seems photographers have forgotten about display calibration (and how to best solve this issue), which you can find on the GreyLearning Blog here:

http://greylearningblog.com/a-forgotten-skill-among-photographers/

As noted in the article linked above, if you calibrate your monitor display you can expect a more accurate appearance for your photos, and an improved workflow from the perspective of color management.

In the context of Lightroom specifically, I have found that calibrating the display will result in preview images in both the Library and Develop modules that are generally a nearly perfect match.

Thus, the first step is display calibration, and as part of that process confirming that an accurate profile is set as the default profile for your display. Fortunately, this latter task is one that most software for display calibration will manage for you automatically.