Finding the Source for a Virtual Copy


Today’s Question: When I make a virtual copy, there is nothing in the history for the original file to indicate that I did so. Sometimes I would like to know the “source” file for the virtual copy. If I have since made additional edits to the original file, is there any way to go back and figure out the point in time the virtual copy was made?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is relatively easy to track down the source image for a virtual copy in Lightroom Classic using the file name referenced with the virtual copy, or by a trick for navigating to the folder that contains the source image.

More Detail: When you create a virtual copy from a source image in Lightroom Classic, you aren’t actually creating a copy of the source image file. Rather, you’re simply creating a unique version of the source image, which is focused on enabling you to create two interpretations of the same image using the adjustments in the Develop module.

You may find at times you have located a virtual copy, but you don’t know where the source image is. There are several easy ways to track down the source image in this scenario.

Perhaps the simplest approach is to automatically navigate to the folder containing the source image. For example, if you have located a virtual copy contained in a collection, you won’t necessarily know which folder the source image is stored. However, you can right-click on the virtual copy and choose “Go to Folder in Library” from the popup menu.

When Lightroom Classic switches you to the folder containing the source image, the virtual copy will still be selected. You can turn off any filters to make sure you’re seeing all photos, and then set the sort order to either Capture Time or File Name. The source image and virtual copy will then be right next to each other, since they share those two attributes as references to the same source capture.

It is also worth keeping in mind that a virtual copy in Lightroom Classic will still reference the filename of the original source image. While browsing a virtual copy, you can go to the Metadata section of the right panel in the Library module. There you can find the File Name field, where the virtual copy will show the filename for the source photo. Note that the Copy Name field shows the reference to the virtual copy, with a default name such as “Copy 1”. You can change that Copy Name value to something more meaningful if you prefer. But the point is that since you can find the source filename associated with the virtual copy, you could also easily search your library for that filename in order to locate the source image.

Shutter Speed for Video


Today’s Question: I’m starting to try my hand a making videos in addition to still photos. I’ve discovered that the shutter speed can’t be set slower than 1/30th of a second. Why is that? And what shutter speed should I use?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The shutter speed for video is limited based on the frame rate for the video. So, at 30 frames per second, for example, the slowest shutter speed available would be 1/30th of a second. In general I prefer to use a shutter speed at or near this limit to maintain a persistence of motion effect.

More Detail: When recording a video at 30 frames per second (fps), each frame essentially represents 1/30th of a second. Therefore, the slowest shutter speed you could use at 30 fps is 1/30th of a second. For video captured at 60 fps, the slowest shutter speed available would be 1/60th of a second.

In some cases you may want to use a fast shutter speed for video, if it is important to freeze the motion of a moving subject. However, that can lead to a somewhat “stuttering” appearance in the video, which can be distracting to the viewer. Instead, you generally want to maintain a “persistence of motion” effect, where a slight motion blur makes movement in the frame appear more natural.

The general rule in video capture is to use a shutter speed with half the duration based on the frame rate. So, for example, you could use a 1/60th of a second shutter speed for video shot at 30 fps, and a 1/120th of a second shutter speed for video captured at 60 fps.

Personally, I tend to prefer the look with a slightly slower shutter speed for video, so I often shoot with the slowest shutter speed possible for video at normal frame rates. If I want to somewhat freeze the motion, such as when there is a particularly fast-moving subject you’ll be recording, you may want to use a slightly faster shutter speed. But in general, very fast shutter speeds for video at normal frame rates will produce a result that is not as pleasing compared to the use of slower shutter speeds.

Adjustments Reset after Photoshop


Today’s Question: When in Lightroom Classic, I make adjustments to a RAW file, such as Lens Calibration, then send the image with adjustments into Photoshop, apply some adjustments, and return to Lightroom as a TIFF file. When I look at Lens Calibration for the new file, the boxes are unchecked. Does this mean I need to re-check those boxes, or are the adjustments baked into the returning TIFF file?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The adjustments appear to “reset” in this context because those adjustments were applied to the image that was sent to Photoshop. There is no need to re-apply those adjustments after the derivative image is returned from Photoshop.

More Detail: When you send a raw capture from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, that raw capture is processed to create a new TIFF or PSD file (depending on the setting established in Preferences). All adjustments you applied in Lightroom’s Develop module for the raw capture are applied to the new TIFF or PSD file. For this reason, when you go to the Develop module for the TIFF/PSD image, the adjustments will have reset to their default values.

Because the adjustments have been applied to the TIFF/PSD image, there is no need to re-apply any of the adjustments. You can, of course, apply additional adjustments above and beyond what you had already applied in Lightroom before sending the image to Photoshop.

As for the Lens Corrections adjustments specifically, you would generally not want to apply those adjustments a second time to the derivative image. Doing so will apply an additional adjustment, which means the adjustment is going beyond the intended purpose of compensating for the behavior of the lens used to capture the image.

Of course, if you apply the adjustment again and like the result, that’s perfectly fine. But in general I would not apply Lens Corrections adjustments more than once to an image, including for a derivative image that has previously had the adjustments applied to it.

Recovering Color Detail


Today’s Question: Is there a way to use the HSL sliders [Hue, Saturation, and Luminance] in Lightroom Classic to bring back detail on over-saturated portions of an image? For example, a red or yellow flower lacks detail from over-saturation. If not HSL is there another way in Lightroom to correct the image? Reducing total saturation sometimes helps to bring out detail, but then all of the other colors are hurt by it and the red/yellow loses its richness.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Reducing saturation for an individual color can help improve perceived detail in that area of the image, if the colors have been over-saturated. If, however, detail was lost due to an over-exposure, reducing the overall exposure in post-processing may help, but it is also possible that there is not any recoverable detail in those areas if the image was over-exposed too much in the camera.

More Detail: Many photographers are in the habit of checking the histogram on their camera’s LCD display to confirm they have achieved a good exposure. However, it is important to keep in mind that detail can be lost even if only one color channel has lost detail, even if there are no areas of the image clipped to pure white, for example.

If you over-expose an image of a red rose, for example, you may lose detail on the red channel without actually having any areas of the image clipped to pure white. In this type of situation, you would not see a “blinkies” indication of clipped highlights, for example, while the red channel of the histogram would show that detail was lost on that channel.

With a raw capture it may be possible to pull back the exposure in post-processing to recover detail that had appeared to be lost in the original capture. And if the issue was a matter of over-saturation, reducing the saturation of individual colors can help. But in the case of saturation, the issue is more about making detail that is already there more visible. If the detail isn’t there in the first place, adjustments in post-processing won’t magically bring that detail back.

Highlights versus Whites


Today’s Question: Can you explain the difference between the Highlights and Whites sliders [in Lightroom Classic or Adobe Camera Raw]? Under what circumstances would you use one rather than the other?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Whites slider is used to establish a white point for the image, affecting the brightest pixels the most. The Highlights slider enables you to brighten or darken the relatively bright areas of a photo, focusing on a range of tonal values darker than the range the Whites slider focuses on.

More Detail: You can think of the Whites slider as enabling you to set the value for white in the image. The emphasis is on a relatively narrow range of the brightest pixels in the photo. For a typical photographic image, you would adjust the Whites slider so that the brightest pixels in the image are at (or nearly at) pure white. Of course, for images where you don’t want a true white, you could use a lower value for the Whites slider.

The Highlights slider affects a wider range, emphasizing the effect on tonal values that are darker than those affected by the Whites slider. Naturally there is overlap between the effect of these two sliders, but the differences mean that the Highlights slider is really more about emphasizing or toning down bright highlight textures.

For example, you might typically use a value for Whites that causes the brightest pixels in the image to be pure white. This might cause some of the bright highlight areas to look too bright, without much visible texture. Reducing the value for Highlights will both darken those bright highlights, and also add a bit of contrast to enhance texture and detail.

The same basic concepts apply at the other end of the tonal range, with the Blacks and Shadows sliders. In my opinion, all four of these sliders should be reviewed and possibly refined for every image you optimize in Lightroom Classic or Camera Raw.

Note that you can hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh while adjusting these sliders to get a clipping preview that enables you to see whether (and where) you are losing detail in the image based on the adjustments.

Selecting a Color in Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: In Photoshop it is possible to acquire a color for a brush from the image itself, or even other places on the screen [using the Eyedropper tool]. In Lightroom Classic I don’t see a way to do this. Many times, I have wanted to paint with a color that is in the image but end up having to approximate by eye. Dragging outside the color picker doesn’t work as it does in Photoshop.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In Lightroom Classic you can sample a color from the photo you’re working on by clicking in the color picker and then dragging (while still holding the mouse button) into the image area. It is not possible, however, to sample colors from the Lightroom Classic interface in this way.

More Detail: In Photoshop it is possible to sample a color from an image, or anywhere in the Photoshop interface. You start by selecting the Eyedropper tool, which enables you to click within an image to sample a color from that image. In addition, however, you can click within the image, then drag the mouse outside the image to sample a color from anywhere within the interface, or even in areas outside of Photoshop.

In Lightroom Classic you can sample a color from a photo, but not from the overall interface. For example, with the Adjustment Brush tool in Lightroom you can apply a color to an image, along with a variety of other adjustments you can paint into specific areas of the image.

Toward the bottom of the controls for the Adjustment Brush (or the Graduated Filter or Radial Filter) you’ll find a label for Color, with a color swatch to the right of it. Click on that color swatch, and a color picker will appear. If you hover your mouse over the color picker, you’ll see that your mouse turns into an eyedropper icon. You can click within the color picker to sample a color.

To sample a color from the image instead of the color picker, click within the color picker and keep the mouse button down. Then drag the mouse into the image area, with the mouse held down until you have located the color you want to sample. Note that a small square on the color picker will indicate the current color under your mouse. When you’re hovering over the desired color, release the mouse button and that color will be the active color for the Adjustment Brush (or other targeted adjustment tool).

However, as noted above, while you can sample a color from within the image in Lightroom Classic, you can’t sample a color from the overall interface.

Always Non-Destructive for Raw?


Today’s Question: Please clarify a basic concept: is there any way Photoshop can irreversibly, destructively change the original raw file, the file the camera produces?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, Adobe Photoshop (and by extension Adobe Bridge) will not alter the original raw capture. When you process a raw capture, any applicable settings are saved in an XMP “sidecar” file rather than altering the original capture. When you process the image, such as with Adobe Camera Raw, you are creating a new derivative image based on the original raw capture.

More Detail: A raw capture is a unique file format, in that it isn’t truly an image file (such as a JPEG or TIFF file), but rather is a data file containing the information gathered by the image sensor at the time a photograph was captured.

As such, a raw capture needs to be interpreted by software after the capture, in order to create a true image file. In the context of Photoshop, that processing is typically handled using Adobe Camera Raw. You could also, of course, process the raw capture in Lightroom Classic and send the resulting image to Photoshop for further processing.

Within Photoshop it is absolutely possible to permanently alter an image in a “destructive” way. In other words, you could open an image, paint pixels over the top of that image, save and close the file, and never be able to get back to the unaltered original. That is not the case with a raw capture.

Any metadata updates that are applied to a raw capture in Photoshop (or Adobe Bridge) will be written to an XMP “sidecar” file alongside the original raw capture. When you open a raw capture in Photoshop, you’ll first need to process that raw capture using Adobe Camera Raw. When you are finished applying adjustment settings in Camera Raw, opening the image causes a new image to be created, based on the raw capture.

You can then of course save and process that derivative image. You could use a layer-based non-destructive workflow for that additional processing, or a “destructive” workflow that alters pixel values, depending on your preference. But at any time you could return to the original raw capture, reset the adjustment settings in Camera Raw if you prefer, and start over with an unaltered original capture.

Counting Only Original Captures


Today’s Question: When I create a virtual copy of one of my photos in Lightroom Classic, the count for “All Photographs” increases. So that total includes both original captures and virtual copies. Is there a way to determine how many original photos are in my catalog, excluding virtual copies?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can use a filter to view only master photos (which excludes virtual copies) while browsing the “All Photographs” collection found in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module in Lightroom Classic. Just be sure that you have also expanded all stacks so you’re getting a true count of the total number of master photos.

More Detail: The Library Filter Bar provides a wide variety of filter options, which can be tremendously helpful when you are looking for a particular photo. These filters are also helpful when you want to get a count of photos that meet certain criteria.

Among the available filter options, the Library Filter Bar enables you to filter for master photos versus virtual copies. These two are mutually exclusive in the context of still photos, meaning a master photo is by definition not a virtual copy, and a virtual copy is not a master photo. Note that when you filter for master photos, videos are excluded unless you specifically choose to include videos.

The Library Filter Bar is available at the top of the grid view display in the Library module. If the Library Filter Bar is not visible, you can press the backslash key (\) on the keyboard or choose View > Show Filter Bar from the menu.

Choose the All Photographs collection from the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module to make sure you are browsing all photos in your entire Lightroom catalog. Then expand all stacks, so you can see a count of all images even if they are included in a stack, assuming that is your preference. You can expand all stacks from the menu by choosing Photo > Stacking > Expand All Stacks. Note that you can collapse all stacks by choosing the “Collapse All Stacks” command from the same menu.

On the Library Filter Bar, choose the Attribute tab. In this context you would want to make sure no other filter categories are enabled. At the far right of the Attributes section of filter controls you’ll find the Kind setting. The first button can be turned on to view master photos. With the second button turned off, virtual copies will be excluded from view. You can also choose whether you want to enable the third button, to include video files in the filter criteria.

Once you have set the desired filter criteria, such as to select only the master photos option in this case, you can view the total count of images with the summary text above the thumbnail display on the Filmstrip (the bottom panel in Lightroom Classic). You will see an indication there for “All Photographs”, meaning you are browsing the All Photographs collection. To the right of that, you will see two numbers, presented as “X of Y”, where “X” is the number of photos meeting the criteria you’ve established (master photos in this case), and “Y” is the total number of photos in the location you’re browsing (the entire catalog in this case).

Photos to Mobile Device


Today’s Question: What is the easiest way to transfer photos from Lightroom Classic to my iPad [or other mobile device]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In my opinion the easiest way to transfer photos to a mobile device from Lightroom Classic is to add those photos to a collection and then enable synchronization for the collection. You can then view that collection of photos using the Lightroom mobile app on your device.

More Detail: Many photographers seem to associate the Lightroom app for mobile devices with the “cloud” version of the Lightroom desktop application, rather than with Lightroom Classic. The reality is, the Lightroom mobile app can be used in conjunction with both Lightroom Classic and the “cloud” version of Lightroom.

For Lightroom Classic users, the synchronization feature of Adobe Creative Cloud provides a great solution for getting photos to your mobile device so they can easily be shared with others, for example.

In Lightroom Classic synchronization is handled via collections. So, the first step is to add the photos you’d like to have available on your mobile device to a collection in the Collections section of the left panel in the Library module. If you want to create a new collection for this purpose, you can click the plus (+) symbol to the right of the Collections heading on the left panel and choose “Create Collection”.

In the Create Collection dialog you can enter a name for the collection, and adjust any other settings based on your preference for the collection. You can also turn on the “Sync with Lightroom” checkbox, so that synchronization will be enabled for this collection. Click the Create button to create the collection.

If you are working with an existing collection, you can turn synchronization on (or off) at any time. To the left of each collection (but not smart collections or collection sets) you’ll see either an empty box or a double-headed arrow synchronization icon. You can click in the space to the left of a collection name to toggle the synchronization status. The empty box means synchronization is disabled, and the double-headed arrow means synchronization is enabled.

Of course, you also need to add the applicable photos to a collection that has synchronization enabled, so that those photos will be synchronized to the Adobe Creative Cloud.

You can then install the Lightroom mobile app on your mobile device, from either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Sign in with your Adobe Creative Cloud account, and the photos synchronized from your computer will magically appear in a collection in the Lightroom mobile app.

Un-Rejecting Photos


Today’s Question: I have marked lots of images as rejected (X) [in Lightroom Classic] but changed my mind. Now I’d like to batch uncheck rejected (X) those photos. How can I do that?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can remove the Reject flag in Lightroom Classic with the “U” keyboard shortcut, for “unflag”. If you want to unflag multiple selected photos at one time, just be sure you are in the grid view (not the loupe view) before pressing “U” on the keyboard.

More Detail: The Pick and Reject flags in Lightroom enable you to review photos and make a “yes” or “no” decision about whether each photo is a favorite. You can add a Pick flag by pressing the “P” key, or a Reject flag by pressing the “X” key. If you change your mind and want to remove either flag, you can press “U” to unflag. This will remove either the Pick or Reject flag from the image, as applicable.

If you want to remove a Pick or Reject flag (or otherwise apply metadata updates) for multiple images, I recommend working in the grid view. If you are in the loupe view, even with multiple photos selected, by default only the single image shown in the loupe view will be updated when you use a keyboard shortcut for a metadata change. In the grid view all of the selected photos will be updated when you apply a metadata change.

Because of this behavior, I recommend switching to the grid view (by pressing “G” on the keyboard) before selecting multiple photos. You can then apply the desired change for all selected photos.

Note that I generally recommend using star ratings rather than Pick and Reject flags in Lightroom Classic, because star ratings are standard metadata that can be saved out to the actual image files. Pick and Reject flags can only be included in your Lightroom catalog, not in the metadata for the actual images. I do use Reject flags as an interim step before deleting outtakes, but for managing my photos in terms of “favorite” status, I use star ratings.