Assessing your images
Lightroom offers several ways to assess and compare your image edits. You can choose to split your preview into either side-by-side or top-and-bottom views of before and after edits, or you can use Reference view mode to compare your working image to a standard reference image.
Comparing before and after versions
While you are working in the Develop module, you can simultaneously compare the before and after versions of any photograph you are working on. This allows you to compare the effect of the Develop settings adjustments, as they are applied to the image. To view the before and after adjustments, click the Before/After view mode button in the Toolbar, and then click the disclosure triangle (circled in Figure 4.77) to select one of the four Before/After viewing modes from the menu. These viewing modes display two identical views of the currently selected image. You can choose a Left/Right view to see a horizontal, side-by-side before-and-after preview, or you can choose a Top/Bottom view to see a vertical side-by-side before-and-after preview. Meanwhile, the Split views divide the preview in half, displaying a Before view on the left and an After view on the right (Figure 4.78), or a Before view on top and an After view below (Figure 4.79). Alternatively, you can repeat click the Before/After button to cycle through all the available views. You can also use the key to toggle the standard Left/Right view mode on or off, press to toggle the standard Top/Bottom view mode on or off, and use to toggle between a split-screen preview or side-by-side previews. Press to return to the default full-screen preview in the Develop module. While you are in any of the Before/After view modes, you can zoom and scroll the image to compare the adjusted version with the before image.
Figure 4.77 The default Before and After view in the Develop module.
Figure 4.78 The Before/After Left/Right preview mode.
Figure 4.79 The Before/After Top/Bottom Split preview mode.
Managing the Before and After previews
When you edit an image in one of the Before/After viewing modes, you can make umpteen adjustments via the Develop module and at all times be able to compare the revised, After version with the Before version. Just to clarify here, the Before version view uses either the Develop settings that were applied when the photo was first imported into Lightroom or the last assigned Before state. When you click the “Copy settings from the After photo to the Before photo” button, you will assign a new Before state to the Before version view.
Suppose that you want to make the current After version view the new Before. You can do this by clicking the “Copy settings from the After photo to the Before photo” button. This updates the Before image view with the After image settings. What you are effectively doing is making a snapshot of the settings at a certain point in the Develop adjustment process, which then lets you make further new adjustments and compare these with a new Before version. Let’s say at this point that you continue making more tweaks to the Develop panel settings, but you decide that these corrections have not actually improved the image and the interim Before version view was better. You can reverse the process by clicking the “Copy settings from the Before photo to the After photo” button. Basically, the Before and After compare mode controls (Figure 4.80) let you take a snapshot of an image in mid-correction and compare it with whatever settings you apply subsequently. The following steps illustrate one such workflow.
Figure 4.80 The Copy settings buttons appear in the Develop module Toolbar when either the Left/Right or Top/Bottom view modes have been selected.
I began in the Develop module with the settings that were applied to the image at the import stage.
I clicked the Before/After view YY button (you can also use the keyboard shortcut) and began to adjust the image by altering the white balance. Notice that the modified After version got warmer in color. I also optimized the Tone settings.
I then went to the Before/After viewing mode menu and switched view modes, selecting the Before/After Top/Bottom Split view.
I clicked the Develop module full-view button to switch out of the Before/After view mode so I could work on the photo in a normal full-screen view.
While working in the Develop module, you can easily compare the current Develop settings with the before version, using the keyboard shortcut. This switches to the Before view, shown here. I then pressed again to revert to the After view.
I clicked the Before/After view button again () and clicked the “Copy After’s settings to Before photo” button ( [Mac] or [PC]), making the current (After) version the new Before setting.
The warmer version now became the new Before setting associated with this photo. I could then make further edits, such as convert the photo to black and white, and compare the results with the updated Before version.
The Reference view mode () can be used to compare Develop edits you make in one image with a static “reference” image. This lets you compare the edits you make to a selected image with a previously edited photo. I see this as a useful feature that can help you achieve a consistent look between a collection of photographs. By having one image on screen as a reference, you can see how the image you are currently working on compares with it and maintain the same style or feel throughout a series of pictures. If Auto Sync is enabled, you can sync edit multiple photos at the same time.
When you first use the Reference view both sides will be blank, unless you have an image selected. If an image is selected, it will appear in the right as the Active image. If more than one image is selected, the most selected one will be the active image, the Reference section on the left will be blank. You first need to select your reference image and drag and drop to add it as a reference. This remains sticky until you select another image to replace it, up until the point where you quit Lightroom. You can therefore use the Reference view mode to compare images from different source collections or folders. The lock in the Toolbar can be used to keep the reference image locked if you exit the current Folder/Collection and wish to compare the same reference image with a photo from another source. Otherwise, the Reference image is cleared after each Develop session.
I selected an active image I wished to edit and used to enter Reference View mode. The Reference section on the left was blank. I therefore needed to select an image to reference by dragging from the Filmstrip.
Here, I selected an image from the same series. As I rolled the pointer over the Active image, the RGB values were shown as (--) for the reference image and actual values for the Active image. This was because the crop ratios differed.
I adjusted the Basic panel settings to achieve a close match to the look and feel of the Reference image. I clicked the lock to keep the Reference image sticky.