Before and After Previews in Lightroom

I received a great question yesterday and thought the answer would make an interesting post.

The question related to how to see a before and after Preview of your image in Lightroom (more accurately know as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom). Now there are actually several ways of approaching this answer, including the option for simultaneous viewing of before and after versions of the image on the screen. But the way the question was phrased, where the photographer was looking for a feature akin to the Preview button in Adobe Camera RAW, caused me to answer in the following manner.

Develop Module

Hitting the backslash key will show you a before and after view. But be aware that the before view takes you back to what the original file looked like before you applied any changes in the Develop module. As long as you only hit the backslash key ( \ ) to cycle back to the very beginning and forwards to your last adjustment nothing will be lost. The position of certain keys may vary from keyboard to keyboard. On a Mac you'll usually find the backslash key positioned directly above the enter or return key.

You can achieve the same effect by bringing up the left hand group of panel, while you're in the Develop module, and opening up the History panel. Simply scroll down and click on the word Import at the bottom of the stack to show you what the image looked like before any changes were applied. To ensure you don't lose any changes make sure you click back on the last instruction or adjustment you made to the image, which will be listed at the top of the History stack.

You can also use the History panel to take you back one or more steps in the editing process. This is great if you think you've messed things up, but don't need to go back to the very beginning and start again. Simply click on the last adjustment, with which you're happy, and then make a new adjustment (e.g. move any of the sliders in the Develop Module). That final adjustment will be recorded, but all of those sitting above it, that you decided weren't any good, are now deleted.

I hope this post has been helpful to Lightroom users. There are literally hundreds of tips I’d love to share with you all regarding Lightroom. I’m working on ways to do just that and I hope to have some exciting news in that regard by the end of January.

Stay tuned because in a few days I’II be announcing the first of a series of improvements I plan to make to this blog over coming weeks.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography
Glenn Guy