Today’s Question: Lately, for a reason I cannot identify, when I open Lightroom (LR5) and Adobe Bridge all of my images are getting an automatic adjustment to their exposure. I know the images are shot (for the most part) at reasonably correct exposures because I can assess them in-camera with the histogram, and they first appear in the Library grid and lower ribbon with decent exposure. But in just a few moments their exposure changes consistently to +2 to +2.5 exposure, causing them to all be over-exposed and blown out. Any ideas as to what I’ve done?
Tim’s Quick Answer: It sounds like you have adjusted the default settings for the Develop module, or that you are applying a preset during the import process into Lightroom. In either case, disabling the applicable option should get you back to “normal” previews for your photos.
More Detail: Assuming you have either created new default settings that include an Exposure (or similar) adjustment or that you have enabled the “Auto” adjustment as part of the new default settings, the key is to reset the default settings in Lightroom.
To reset the Develop adjustments to the default settings, first switch to the Develop module. Then, on the Develop menu on the menu bar, choose the “Set Default Settings” option. In the dialog that appears, click the “Restore Adobe Default Settings” button. This will reset all of the adjustments to the default values.
You’ll also want to confirm within the Import dialog that you are either not selecting a Develop preset at all for the images you’re importing, or that the preset does not include a problematic adjustment. You can check this option in the “Apply During Import” section of the right panel in the Import dialog.
I suspect in this case that you have changed the default Develop settings (or applied a preset), and that you have the option set in Catalog Settings within Lightroom to save changes from Lightroom automatically to the actual image files (or to an XMP sidecar file in the case of RAW captures). This would explain why Adobe Bridge is also showing you the extreme adjustments to the exposure for your photos.