Preset Review Redux


Today’s Question: To see the contents of a Lightroom Classic User Preset you find it by using the “Show Lightroom Develop Presets” command in Preferences, and then open the applicable preset file in any text editor. You can even modify the commands and save the modified preset using the same name or a different name.

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is true that you can review the changes applied by a Develop module preset in Lightroom Classic by reviewing the XMP file that represents the saved preset. However, it can be a little tricky to interpret the information in the XMP file.

More Detail: This is a follow-up to the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter from April 15, 2020, where I answered a question about reviewing the contents of a Develop module preset. I suggested switching between a “before” and “after” view of an image while watching the adjustment controls on the right panel. However, as noted above, it is actually possible to review the contents of the preset with a text editor outside of Lightroom.

As noted in today’s “question”, you first need to navigate to the location where your presets are stored. You can select “Preferences” from the Edit menu on Windows or the Lightroom Classic menu on Macintosh to bring up the Preferences dialog. Then go to the Presets tab and click the “Show Lightroom Develop Presets” button. This will bring up a window in your operating system showing you the parent folder where the presets are stored. Double-click on the highlighted folder and locate the specific preset you want to review.

When you find the applicable preset, you can open it in any text editor, or a word processor that supports plain text files. There will be a fair amount of information that won’t be especially readable or useful, but you can also find details about the various adjustments included in the preset. For example, in the text from a sample XMP file below you can discover that the Clarity adjustment has been increased to a value of +17 with this preset.

This certainly provides an option for reviewing the information included in a Develop preset, though it can be a little difficult to interpret some of the details. You can get a sense of what is involved with this sample from an XMP file for one of my Develop presets:

<x:xmpmeta xmlns:x=”adobe:ns:meta/” x:xmptk=”Adobe XMP Core 5.6-c140 79.160451, 2017/05/06-01:08:21 “>
<rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf=””>
<rdf:Description rdf:about=””
<rdf:li xml:lang=”x-default”>Import Develop Preset</rdf:li>
<rdf:li xml:lang=”x-default”/>
<rdf:li xml:lang=”x-default”/>
<rdf:li xml:lang=”x-default”>Tim’s Import Presets</rdf:li>
<rdf:li xml:lang=”x-default”/>

Photoshop Workflow Mystery


Today’s Question: I must have some setting not correctly configured in Lightroom. When I edit a JPEG image in Photoshop from Lightroom Classic, the image is saved as a Photoshop file but does not appear in Lightroom’s Library in any collection. I’m not using the ‘Save As’ command. I have to import that PSD image manually into Lightroom. What is the setting (or workflow) that would allow me to accomplish an edited JPEG images as PSD directly into the library? Appreciate any advice you may have.

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you send a photo from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, and then save and close the image, that image will be saved in the same folder as the original file. Note, however, that the new file will only be added to a collection that the original image is in if you sent the photo to Photoshop from within a collection.

More Detail: In this particular case, I suspect one of two things are happening. First, it is possible that the photo is being sent to Photoshop from a folder in Lightroom Classic, and then you are looking for the image in a collection that the original photo is contained in. In that case the PSD file created as part of this process would not appear in the collection. For the PSD to appear in a collection, you would need to send the image to Photoshop by first selecting it within the collection (not the folder) in Lightroom Classic.

The other issue I see somewhat frequently is confusion caused by the application of filters. For example, when you are searching for the original image in order to send it to Photoshop for additional adjustments, you might filter by file type, such as to locate a raw or JPEG capture. If you then send the image to Photoshop, when you are finished working in Photoshop and return to Lightroom, you won’t actually see the new derivative file that was created.

That is because the new derivative image would be a PSD (or TIFF, depending on the settings you’ve established in Preferences), which would not fit the current filter criteria. Turning off the filter would then cause the PSD file to appear.

Locking Search Filters


Today’s Question: Is there a way in Lightroom Classic to ensure that when I open the software it will always open with the last filter setting? I generally have my filter set on a user preset I created called “Flagged and Unflagged.” Every time I open Lightroom it defaults to the “Filters Off” filter.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can indeed ensure that Lightroom Classic will retain a selected filter setting by turning on the “lock” on the Library Filter bar.

More Detail: By default, when you apply a filter in Lightroom Classic, that filter is only active temporarily. However, it is possible to lock the filter so it will be retained until you turn it off.

For example, let’s assume you have set a filter so that only images with a three-star or greater rating are displayed. You can browse the current folder, and will only see images with a star rating of three stars or more. However, as soon as you navigate to a different folder, the filter is reset to “None”. The same holds true if you quit Lightroom Classic and then launch it again.

You can change this behavior, however, by clicking the “lock” icon to the far right of the Library Filter bar at the top of the grid view display in the Library module. If the Library Filter bar is not visible, you can enable it by pressing the backslash key (\) or by choosing View > Show Filter Bar from the menu. Note that the Library Filter bar is only available in the grid view in the Library module, so if you are in the loupe view for example the above options will switch Lightroom to the grid view.

By default, the lock icon will have the shackle of the lock up, indicating that it is unlocked. You can click the icon to toggle between “locked” and “unlocked”. Admittedly, because of the design of the icon, it is a little difficult to tell the difference between the two, but the taller icon means unlocked, and the shorter icon means locked.

When you lock the filters, the current filter settings will remain in place until you turn off the lock. That includes the ability to navigate among different folders with the same filter settings, for example. It also means that when you quit Lightroom Classic and launch it again, the filter will still be in place.

Reviewing a Develop Preset


Today’s Question: I have been using a custom User Preset [for the Develop module in Lightroom Classic] that I created one year ago to be applied to every photo upon import. After completing your first class in “Optimizing Photos in Lightroom Classic”, I wanted to see what this preset was actually doing. How do I look at the “content” of an existing User Preset to see if it is still appropriate, or if I need to modify some parts of this preset?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom Classic doesn’t provide a way to review a list of which adjustments and settings are actually included in a preset. So I recommend using a “before and after” approach to evaluating the differences applied by the preset.

More Detail: First I recommend finding a “test” image that you’re not concerned about the adjustments for. This could be an outtake from a recent photo shoot, for example. Click the Reset button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module to set the image to the default adjustment settings.

Next, apply the preset you want to evaluate by selecting that preset from the Presets list on the left panel in the Develop module.

To compare the “before” version of the image without the preset, versus the “after” version with the preset, you can use the History section of the left panel. Simply click back and forth between the Reset Settings step and the Preset step. As you do so, watch the change in adjustment settings on the right panel.

I recommend checking each section individually, so you can be sure to consider all of the various adjustments that are included in the preset, and the actual settings being used for those adjustments.

If you decide you want to make changes to the preset, first make sure you have the preset actually applied to the image, such as by selecting the “Preset” history state in the History section on the left panel. Then change any of the adjustment settings you want to update for the preset on the right panel. Then right-click on the preset in the Presets list on the left panel, and choose “Update with Current Settings” to save the updated adjustments for the existing preset.

Reuniting XMP with Raw


Today’s Question: Recently I noticed the dreaded exclamation point appeared in Lightroom Classic on some treasured images. All I could find on my main drive and on my 1st backup were the XMP files. But after a bit of deep breathing, I found the RAW originals on my trusted 2nd backup drive–but only the RAW (CR2) files, no XMPs. Now need to reimport the RAW files into Lightroom Classic. Is it possible to reimport the RAW files so that they pair up with the XMP files and I can keep my ratings and edits?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can put the raw captures and the XMP files in the same folder, and then import the photos from that folder. As long as metadata updates were saved to the XMP files, upon import you would have all of your photos and most of the updates you had previously applied to those photos. However, in this case a better approach would be to simply copy the backup copies of your raw captures into the folder where they belong, so they are no longer missing in the context of your Lightroom Classic catalog.

More Detail: One of the reasons I highly recommend enabling the option to “Automatically write changes into XMP” in the Catalog Settings dialog in Lightroom Classic is that it ensures that most of the updates you apply in Lightroom Classic are saved to the source images, in addition to having those updates in the catalog. In the case of proprietary raw captures, the metadata updates are saved to XMP sidecar files that are co-located with the raw capture, with the same base filename and an “xmp” filename extension.

If your Lightroom Catalog became corrupted, for example, you could simply create a new catalog and import all of your source photos into the new catalog. Most of the metadata, which would have been written to XMP sidecar files for raw captures or to the source image file in the case of other supported file formats, would then be imported along with your photos into the new catalog.

However, some key features are not included in the metadata for XMP sidecar files. For example, Pick and Reject flags would not be included, nor would any collections those photos had been added to. The History in the Develop module would be empty for those images, and no virtual copies would be retained.

So, it is preferable to locate missing photos within Lightroom Classic rather than re-importing the raw captures, even if you have the XMP files that contain most of the metadata for the photos.

In this case, since the original raw captures have been located, they can simply be copied to the applicable folder. As long as the filenames are the same, that will cause the photos to no longer be missing. And the advantage of this approach is that you won’t lose any of the information about those photos from your Lightroom Classic catalog.

Backup Including Edits


Today’s Question: In your opinion what is the best strategy for backing up Lightroom Classic images while keeping image edits?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I recommend using a synchronization approach to backing up your photos, and using the built-in backup feature in Lightroom Classic to backup the catalog.

More Detail: One of the most important attributes of a good backup strategy is that the backup copy of your data needs to be stored on a separate storage device from the originals. This helps protect against the loss of data due to a failure of the storage device.

By default the Lightroom Classic backup saves a copy of your catalog in a “Backups” folder within the same folder where your original catalog is stored. Therefore, I recommend either changing the location in the dialog for the catalog backup, or making sure you are using another backup to copy the catalog (and the Backups folder) to another device.

For example, if the catalog is on the internal hard drive on your computer, and you keep the catalog backups on the same drive, you’ll want to be sure you are also backing up your internal hard drive through other software. This, of course, is something you should be doing regardless.

It is important to keep in mind that the backup feature in Lightroom Classic does not backup your photos. Backing up the catalog is important, because the catalog contains the information about your photos. But it is important to also backup the photos themselves.

For backing up photos I recommend a synchronization approach, so that the backup storage is a perfect match of the master photo storage. This makes it much easier to recover from a hard drive failure or other issue that causes a loss of photos.

I use GoodSync as my synchronization backup solution, which you can learn more about here:

In addition, I created a video course that demonstrates my workflow for backing up my photos with GoodSync, which you can find on the GreyLearning website here:

Choosing by Histogram


Today’s Question: I shoot in raw and I have multiples of the same or almost the same images because I use exposure bracketing. As a rule of thumb, can I use the histogram in the Lightroom Classic Development module to help me in the process of selecting the best photo? By that I mean relying only on the histogram, if I choose the image that is most exposed to the right without being clipped, will I be making the right selection everything else being equal?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can use the histogram as a tool for deciding which photos to keep versus discard, all other things being equal. Just keep in mind that the histogram is not a completely accurate reflection of the original capture data.

More Detail: The histogram reflects adjustments applied to an image. That means if you make changes to the settings (such as with a preset applied at import) the histogram will reflect those changes. Furthermore, the histogram reflects the changes inherent in the default processing of the raw data by the software (such as Lightroom Classic in this case) that is rendering the preview of the image. The histogram is based on the rendered preview, and that preview will be rendered differently by different software applications.

For example, if you see a minor amount of highlight clipping on the histogram for an image you have not applied any adjustments to, that doesn’t mean detail in the highlights has necessarily been lost forever. Slightly reducing the value for Exposure or Whites, for example, would likely cause there to be no clipping at all, and not loss of detail. Just because the default interpretation of the raw capture shows some clipping doesn’t mean the detail that appears to be lost can’t be recovered.

If the clipping is significant, it is quite likely that detail has been lost in the original capture, and you won’t be able to recover it. Of course, it isn’t easy to determine whether detail was clipped completely or if that detail can be recovered. In other words, the histogram isn’t a perfectly reliable tool for evaluating which image has retained the best detail. That said, provided no adjustments have been applied to the image, the histogram can be used to select the best of a series of photos, all other things being equal. In general, you want to choose the image where the histogram shows the exposure was as bright as possible with very little clipping (or ideally no clipping at all) for the highlights in the photo.

Planning for a Full Moon


Today’s Question: Thanks to your mention of the supermoon, I was able to get some nice photos of it. But how can you determine when the full moon will occur, and is it possible to plan in advance for where it will be visible?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are a variety of tools that are helpful with planning photos that include the moon (or the sun), but one of my favorites is The Photographer’s Ephemeris (

More Detail: The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) is available through a web browser, or as a smartphone app, and I find it invaluable for planning photos that include the moon or the sun. That includes planning for photos based on when the light will be right, even if the sun won’t be in the frame. In fact, I created a course demonstrating how I use The Photographer’s Ephemeris, which is available on the GreyLearning website with a discount included automatically if you use this link to get started:

With TPE, you can plan ahead for specific celestial events. For example, when setting the date for which you want to plan, you’ll see a list of events, including phases of the moon, meteor showers, and eclipses.

Once you know the date you’ll be photographing, you can also use TPE to help plan the right location to be. For example, I’ve used TPE to choose where to photograph from when I know there will be a full moon rising around sunset. This is done through a map, with lines projected to show you the relative position of the sun or moon based on any position on the map.

Printer Test Settings


Today’s Question: When using his printer tonal range target image, I would like to know whether to choose “Printer Manages Colors” vs “Photoshop Manages Color” and whether to choose Black and White or Color in the Printer dialog box.

Tim’s Quick Answer: When printing the printer tonal range target image, you should use the same settings you normally would when printing a photographic image. That generally means using the “Photoshop Manages Color” option and turning off color management in the printer settings. It also typically means setting the printer to Color rather than Black & White.

More Detail: The printer tonal range target image is something I developed for testing the tonal range capabilities of your printer, so you can apply adjustments before printing that will help ensure the print exhibits maximum highlight and shadow detail. When printing the tonal range target image, you want to use the same settings you normally would for the type of paper you’re testing with your printer. You can download the target image and learn more about how to use it on the GreyLearning blog here:

Generally speaking, I recommend using the “Photoshop Manages Colors” option when printing from Photoshop. That requires, however, that you specify a profile for the printer, ink, and paper combination you’ll be using for printing. These profiles are generally available from the manufacturer of the paper you will be using.

When using the “Photoshop Manages Colors” option, you need to select the appropriate profile from the Printer Profile popup. You also need to make sure that color management is turned off in the printer driver dialog, so that color management corrections are not being applied twice to the image you are printing.

If you don’t have a profile for the paper you’re printing to, you can instead use the “Printer Manages Colors” option, and then enable color management (and possibly color adjustments) in the printer driver settings.

In most cases I recommend setting the output to Color rather than Black & White, even if you’ll be printing a monochromatic image. You can achieve a much greater range of tonal values by allowing the printer to blend all of the colors of ink to produce a neutral print, rather than relying only on the black in (or inks) available on your printer.

You can learn more about color management (with a discount included automatically) with my “Color Management for Photographers” course, available on the GreyLearning website here:

Moon Illusion


Today’s Question: You recently had a discussion about lens compression issues, and that got me thinking about photographing the moon. Does lens compression have anything to do with the moon appearing larger when it is close to the horizon versus high in the sky?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The moon appearing larger when it is closer to the horizon is actually an illusion. However, you can make use of the concepts related to lens compression to capture a more dramatic photo of the moon when it is near the horizon.

More Detail: A full moon just over the horizon provides a more dramatic view than the same full moon high in the sky. In my view, the reason for this is that the context of terrestrial objects appearing near the moon cause the moon to appear larger. When the same full moon appears high overhead with a clear sky, the moon seems more solitary and thus smaller. The only thing that actually affects the size of the moon in the sky is how near to or far from earth the moon is at that moment, based on the elliptical orbit.

While the moon will be the same size regardless of how close it is to the horizon, the impression is that the moon appears larger when near the horizon. You can make the most of this effect and create a more dramatic photograph if you keep the concepts of lens compression in mind.

For a more dramatic image of the moon you will want to include a terrestrial object in the photo, such as a tree. That will provide context, making the moon appear that much larger.

Keep in mind that a scene can be compressed, so that the background appears closer to the foreground subject, by moving farther away from your foreground subject. That naturally means you will use a longer lens focal length to frame up your foreground subject in the same way even though you’ve moved farther away, which is why this effect is referred to as lens compression.

The key when it comes to photographing the moon is to frame the moon up with an object that is as far away as possible. For example, if you include a tree in the frame and that tree is very close to you, the moon will appear tiny by comparison. If, on the other hand, you frame the moon up with a tree that is a fair distance away, the moon will appear larger relative to the tree.

So, while the moon is near the horizon, look for a relatively distant object you can frame up alongside the moon, so you’ll have a more dramatic result with the moon appearing relatively large compared to that distant object.