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Virtual Copies

Lesson 17 from: Lightroom Classic: Essential Training

Mark Wallace

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Lesson Info

17. Virtual Copies

Lightroom Classic allows you to make as many different versions of an image as you want, without taking up a lot of hard drive space. Mark shows you the ways you can use Virtual Copies to enhance your creative process.

Lesson Info

Virtual Copies

Light room Classic has a feature called virtual copies. That allows you to create many different versions of the same image without taking up any hard drive space. It's really spectacular. So way back in the beginning of this class, we were talking about metadata and how that is a recipe for cooking your cake or developing your image and it's not changing the file itself, it's just saying this is how I want it to be done and it can be applied. So what a virtual copy does is it allows you to take and have an image and make a copy of that image in your catalog and it doesn't put anything on the actual hard drive. It's virtual. So then you can take that virtual copy and make it a different version of black and white or something. And then I was like okay that's cool. But I want to see a different version. You can make another virtual copy. Make that maybe really saturated. Maybe make another virtual copy. Make it a horizontal instead of vertical crop. You can do many, many, many different...

versions. And what's happening is light room classic is storing the metadata. The recipe for those different conversions and develop settings in the catalog but not on the hard drive. There's really nothing going on there. So there are three bullet points I really want to talk to in this session. The first is it's great for saving hard drive space because there aren't actual copies showing up. There's not actual files being created. This is all virtual in the catalog. It's great for making multiple versions of a single image if you're not quite sure how you want to process that. So you might make a black and white and say, well let me try this in a highly saturated color or something and you can just keep doing this into infinity and figure out which way you like to edit your image. And then also we need to talk about the develop module snapshots and sort of the history and virtual copies and how those all work together so you can choose. And so to do that, I have some images here in light room Classic that I have selected. These are just two images that have not been processed yet of a model named Annabelle. And so I'm not quite sure how I want to process these these And so what I'm going to do is we're gonna start with this image right here now to save these to make sure I can get back to them. I'm going to select both of them and I'm going to drag them over to the quick collection. So they're in this little collection of images that we've been working on. So let's start with this first image right here. So what I'll do is I'm going to hit d to go into the develop module and lets go and do our work floor normal process. So the first thing is let's set the white balance. This looks pretty good, but what I'm gonna do is we have a neutral background right here, I'll click on that And it says that I should have a negative six tents. She's looking a little orangey, so I'm going to manually adjust this. So she is a normal colour. So there we go, that's close enough. Um I'm going to go in here, open up the shadows a little bit more. I want to see her hair and I think this is a pretty good starting point. Maybe open this up a little bit, you can see that there's this spot right here, I'll go and get my spot removal tool and remove that. By the way, there's another shortcut key I need to show you that is the space bar. I hit that and hold it in the develop module that gives me a little hand and I can move the image around very quickly and so that's how I'm going from the brush to the hand. I'm hitting the space bar to do that. Okay, so let's just move around and see if there's any big obvious spots that need to be removed. Think this background only hears one needs to be removed right there. This background looks pretty clean. We can uh go here. And the other thing I haven't shown you is this up here, this navigator. It allows you to move around on the image to see what you're doing. And then I can also click fit right up here to zoom in and out if I have a tool active. So I'm going to zoom out up here to fit, to look at this whole thing and then I'm going to go down here and turn on visualize spots to see if I see anything on the background and it looks pretty clean to me. So that is all done. So I can put away my spot tool spot removal tool and we can go on to the next thing. So are white balance is set, our tone has been set, our spots have been removed. Now let's figure out how we want to process this and figure out if we need to make a snapshot or a virtual copy. So on the left hand side over here on this panel is something we haven't looked at yet, snapshots and history. So in the history if I open that you can see everything that I just did. So we started with a custom white balance. I changed the tent, I changed the shadows and so you can always go back to any point in history in this little palette here. So for example, let's say that I over exposed that and then I'm gonna go in here and I'm going to crop it to a weird crop. I will say close. Okay, so over here in the history, you can see that I change the exposure, crop, rectangle, etcetera. I want to go back in time. So I'm just going to go back here to add spot removal. That's the last place. This was good and click that and it does all these other things that I did. So you always have sort of this safety net over here on the history. Now the cool thing about this history is it stays around even after you close light room Classic, you'll still have this history to come back to so you can sort of see how you've processed an image. And so if you're not sure what you did to an image and maybe you want to do that to a future image, you can always go and peek and see exactly what you did and you can always roll back to a certain time in the history. Okay, well this is a pretty good starting point. So what I can do here is I can say I want to make a snapshot, I wanna hold this place in history so that at any moment I can come back to this one named spot. And so let's go back over into light room Classic. And I'm going to go and add a snapshot. So again it's on the left hand side, there's a little plus right here and so we're going to click on this plus and when we do it asks us to name the snapshot. So by default it puts in the date and time I'm going to do is I'm going to say good start. So this is a good start. Now I've got this snapshot saved and what that means is I don't have to go through the history panel to sort of figure out where I was when I was at the good start. So now we can start doing some, some things. So I'm gonna go into color grading. We haven't done that yet. And let's see if we can make some of these shadows a little more bluish. So I think that's sort of cool. Will make the highlights a little more amber and something like this ish and that's sort of cool. We'll do, I don't know, we'll just make it think we'll just leave it where it was. Just have the bluish background, we're gonna go in here. I'm going to um crop this in so that it's a really sort of a tight head shot, will do peter Hurley style and chop her head off just so we have something that looks interesting there and then um I think I'm gonna make that square, so it will maybe looks good on instagram and open that up just to hear. Okay, so we have that, I'll close it and so now I can go and make another snapshot, can go in here and I'm gonna save this one as square. Okay, now I can flip back and forth between these, I can click good start and we have that, I can click square and we have the colours and all of that stuff. Now, I'm gonna go in here and going to undo that crop. I'm going to go in here and make this a black and white image and you can see that it's bluish. The reason it's bluish is because I made the shadows blue. So I'll make these shadows back to zero just by double clicking on that. That's a cool black and white. It's a little bit too much headroom above. I'll take that out. Okay, I'm gonna make a snapshot. We'll call this black and white. All right, so we have three images here. We have our good start. We have our square and we have our black and white. Now, the issue with this is if we go back to our grid, we just see whatever snapshot that we have selected. If I want to see those side by side, I can't, I have to always go into the develop module and look at these different snapshots. So snapshots are great for sort of saving your place in history to figure out how to edit. But virtual copies give you much more power than just that. So the virtual copy makes it appear as if you have three or four or five totally separate images, their virtual their actual copies. So let's create some virtual copies. So we're going to take these three versions will first start with a good start and what I'm going to do is I'm going to right click on this image and then I'm going to go down right here to create virtual copy and you will see on the image we have the original image and then we have another one and it has a little upturned corner and that tells us this is a virtual copy, there is nothing on the hard drive. So we only have one file on the hard drive. This one does not exist. It's just virtual. We can go in, I'm going to go and create another virtual copy. We have the original a virtual copy and another virtual copy. And then I'm gonna go in and make another virtual copy. So now we have the original one, virtual copies. So now I'm going to go to that first virtual copy and I'm going to hit d to go in to our develop module and look all this stuff that we did to the original is here as far as the snapshots but the history starts from scratch so I can take this one and say Let's make that the Square one. So that's pretty cool. I'm gonna bring up my filmstrip, we're gonna go to the second virtual copy On that one. I'm gonna make it black and white and then we'll go to the third copy and this one we have it as a good start. But let's just make it um we're gonna go to a different profile over here, which I haven't shown you yet. We're going to get to that, but we're going to go here to a vintage shot will make it like that. Okay now if we go back to our our grid view now you can see that we have four different versions of this image. But the cool thing is only one of them is actually on the hard drive. All of the rest of them are virtual. They take up very very little hard drive space because the only thing that saved is the metadata. It's just the settings that we applied, the crop, the color, the develop module stuff. And so those are just very very very small bits of information that light room needs to know how to convert that image. And so this is a huge saver for hard drive space. If you need to make multiple copies of a different image or if you're working on an image and you get to a place and like okay, I think this is where our paths divide and maybe I'll make this one color, this one black and white or whatever, horizontal, vertical, whatever, two different versions that you need or three. And then you can start working on those absolutely separately. And then that way you have two different files, but only one is actually on the hard drive. Okay, let's talk about one other thing that you can do here with your virtual copies. So let's say we have these two images right here and this square image here, you're like that's pretty good. I like the color of that one, it's a virtual copy. But I like this uh format but I don't like the color of this first one. So I want to take the color from the second one and apply it to the first one. But I want to leave everything else the same. You can do that. We talked about it a little bit yesterday, but what we're going to do is we're gonna take the settings from the square version and apply it to the full portrait version. So the first thing we're going to do is go in here. I'm gonna kick my panels and again, so this makes sense. I'm going to go to this square version and I'm going to click on that 1, 1st Then I'm going to shift click on the 2nd. And what I'm gonna do now is go all the way back down to the bottom and say sync settings. Now here is where we uh we didn't do this yesterday last uh previously what we did is we just said let's check all. So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to check none. And what I want to do here is I wanted to do the white balance. I'm going to do treatment and profile because that affects the color and then calibration because they're the same calibration, that's fine and I don't want to do the effects or the transforms or any of that kind of stuff. I just want to work with the color, I'll choose color saturation and vibrance, all of that stuff and the colour grading this stuff, so just the stuff that applies to the color of the image and nothing else. And then I'll say synchronize and just like that, we got the color from this one applied to this one, but everything else we did, it's left alone and we still have to separate files because we've used virtual copies. You can't do that if you're using snapshots, you're not able to transfer different states and different things that you've done between images. And so it's a really, really amazing and a powerful feature, virtual copies. Once you learn how to use them, you will use them all the time.

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Ratings and Reviews

Karen Sessions

Great class - excellent content, excellent presentation. Thank you Mark, through this class, I finally understand the difference between Adobe Lightroom Classic, Lightroom and how they work together. And how excellent, there is so much more available to learn - photography essentials, lighting, Adobe products.


This is an excellent class to learn about Lightroom Classic. Since it's not the same as Photoshop, I found Lightroom Classic to be confusing and difficult to intuitively figure out. Mark Wallace is an expert and exceptional teacher for the program and I learned so much today in this free class presentation that I am planning to purchase the program so I can continue to have a solid understanding of Lightroom Classic basics. Thanks, Mark, for inspiring me to get back into computer photo editing with LR Classic!

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