3 Uses for Lightroom’s New Reference Photo Feature

This past week Adobe released Lightroom CC 2015.8. The new release has some fixes, new camera profiles, and a new feature that allows you to compare the image currently being processed in the Develop Module against a reference image. The reference image can be another image including another copy of the same image. The reference images is not modified by any changes to the active image. I’ve come up with three reasons (there are more) to use this reference feature.

  1. Compare image as processed with all the tweaks you need against the straight out of camera image or unprocessed raw image.
  2. Compare image as finished processing in Lightroom with an image that has been further processed in Photoshop or through a plug in.
  3. Compare image in color versus black and white.

Here are three images to further explain what I would use each reference photo for and other details.

Compare straight out of camera image.

Fujifilm X-T2 XF 50-140mm F2.8 ISO 200 F4.5 1/440 second 50mm

The active image is a raw file that has my normal camera profile, sharping, and vibrance adjustments. I then made a virtual copy of the image and clicked on the reset button to put the virtual copy to the default processing done when Lightroom imports my Fujifilm X-T2 raw file. This zeros all the sliders and sets the camera profile to Adobe Standard. I would use this one to verify how the eye moves thru the processed file that might not be evident in the unprocessed file. Does your Lightroom processing do enough to invite your viewer in?. You could also use this feature if you are shooting in Raw+JPG mode and see how close you can come to the image processed in camera to jpeg.

Compare image with Lightroom processing with image processed in Photoshop.

Fujifilm X-T2 XF 50-140mm F2.8 ISO 200 F2.8 1/300 second 50mm

I usually use Photoshop to apply any plugins to my images. I open the image in Photoshop as a Smart Object then apply any plugins. This work flow means I can go back and tweak the image any number of times as the Photoshopped image is added to the catalog as a psd or tif. In any case you can reference your Lightroom processed images against all the changes in Photoshop. Depending on the image I can sometimes overcook the plugins in Photoshop. Having the Lightroom processed image give me a chance to go back into the Photoshop image and fix any issues I had with the processing. Once again does the processed image succeed at moving the eye around the image as you intended?

Compare image in color versus black and white.

Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm F2.8 ISO 200 F8 1/640 second 31.1mm

Sometimes you need to look at both color and black and white to determine which is better for the story you are telling. Create a virtual copy of the processed color image then convert to black and white within Lightroom or a plugin. In this chase I applied the Fujifilm ACROS+R camera profile to the virtual copy. Of course because you made a virtual copy you can have the best of both worlds. In this image I like the black and white because it removes the distraction of the red shirted guy in the left of the image and the people a little further up the river also on the left.

 

Images shot with Fujifilm X-T2
 Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
Fujinon XF50-140mm F2.i R LM OIS WR at Amazon

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