I was doing some work in Adobe Lightroom last week when I stumbled upon an idea for a post. The project I was working on called for a certain black and white look for a photograph. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted, but I was definitely sure that I didn’t want to create one black and white virtual copy of a photo and then create brand new ones thereafter. My idea was to create one black and white virtual copy of the photo, work on it, and then create another copy based on the one I just made changes to. I could repeat the process as much as I needed to and constantly build from what I had already done. Doing this would quickly and efficiently lead me to my desired result.
I completed the project successfully. Since I had saved so much time with the technique I used, I decided to share it here. It’s a small tip, but one that can have profound time saving advantages.
In today’s post, I’ll be using a demo photo to go through the same exact process as I followed with my project last week. I’ll start with the original photo and create a sequence of changes via the use of virtual copies in Adobe Lightroom.
The photo I’ll be working on today to demonstrate the necessary steps in this tutorial is below. It’s the perfect photo to transform into black and white. It’s simply fierce.
Creating Virtual Copies
If you aren’t experienced with creating virtual copies in Adobe Lightroom, have no fear. I’ve already written a few good posts on the topic. Check them out below.
Just for this post, I’ll go ahead and create a new virtual copy now.
The first thing I’ll do is launch Lightroom and click on the Develop tab up at the top of the application. This will bring me to the photos I already imported a while back. I’ll move through the filmstrip view at the bottom of Lightroom until I locate the image I’d like to work with.
Next, I’ll right-click on the owl thumbnail (or larger version of the photo in the center Content panel) and select Create Virtual Copy from the menu that appears.
Doing this will give me two similar looking thumbnails down in the filmstrip view. The original and the virtual copy. To learn what exactly a virtual copy is, please read this post.
Transforming to Black & White
Converting an image (or virtual copy) from color to black and white in Lightroom is simple. All that needs to be done is to click on the Black & White link in the Basic panel. I’ll do this now for the virtual copy I just created.
Clicking this link will instantly turn any color photo to black and white.
Creating a Sequence of Changes
In this section, I’ll get to the point of this post. I don’t really need to change this photo for any particular reason. I’m merely going to change it to demonstrate how I can do it in a logical order so things make more sense later on.
Okay, I have my original image and I already made a black and white virtual copy. Let’s say that I have a client who wants to see three versions of the black and white. They would like to browse incremental changes, starting with just the plain black and white conversion and continuing on with further changes for each additional photo. This isn’t difficult to achieve at all.
Since I already have the black and white version, I’m done with that. That’s one down. Now, if I were to go ahead and make another virtual copy from the original color version, I’d have to repeat the step of converting the copy to black and white again. To keep things as efficient as I can, I’ll make the next virtual copy from the black and white copy I already made. This is important to understand. I’ll need to right-click on the virtual copy. I’ll do that now.
If I had copied the color image, I’d have two color images right now. That wouldn’t be all too helpful.
I’m going to go ahead and make some changes to this new copy. I’ll push the sliders around a bit.
So far, I’ve got two versions of the black and white image to show the client. All I need is one more.
Since I’m building a sequence here, I’ll need to work from the copy with my most recent changes. To accomplish this, I’ll right click on this latest copy and create another (and final) virtual copy. This last copy will automatically incorporate all the changes I’ve made thus far. After that, I’ll make a few more changes in the Basic panel.
The Method to Create an Efficient Sequence of Changes
I know I’m repeating myself here, but this really is the point of this post. The create an efficient sequence of changes using virtual copies in Adobe Lightroom, you need to build from the most recent virtual copy created. By doing this, all previous changes will be saved and applied to the newest version. You won’t need to apply anything again – it’ll all be done already.
There we have it. I hope I explained this post clearly and effectively. If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!