By default, the imported image (including any adjustments you may have applied on import using an pre-defined preset) is the one used when doing a ‘before-and-after’ comparison (clicking the second icon on the bottom-left of the Develop module main window pane). For instance, below is an image that I took this weekend of an Ohia Lehua, a beautiful native Hawaiian flower and endemic to the islands, comparing my final image (see above) with that imported from the camera.
Now that’s all well and good if you do not plan to do any more processing. However, you may want to experiment a bit further and see what kind of look you can get. But to see if you’ve made an improvement or not, you really need to compare with your final and not your original, imported image. And also, you don’t want to screw up what you’ve already got.
This is how you can get around this problem. First of all, save your current image as a Snapshot – the ‘Snapshots’ panel is on the left, press the ‘+’ and give your snapshot a name. The Develop settings used to get to your image are saved and you can always get back to them by clicking on the name you assigned to the Snapshot. Very useful if in the proceeding steps you do something wrong or ugly and you need to get back quickly. I find Snapshots extremely useful for storing different interpretations of the same image, e.g. a colour and black and white image. The non-destructive nature of Lightroom means that it costs nothing to have as many Snapshots as you like.
Now, to make your ‘final’ the image you compare to, right-click on the name of your saved snapshot and click on ‘Copy Snapshot Settings to Before’ (see below).
From now on, this will be the image that will be compared to in the before-and-after view. As an example, I used a preset that I have which sometimes results in an interesting effect (it’s very much debatable whether it works for this particular image but that’s not the point of this post). This is an effect where I desaturate the image by about 65% or more, and increase the Vibrance by the same amount (it can sometimes lead to an interesting “60’s-style” effect).
If you want to reset to compare to the original image, then right-click on the ‘Import’ image in the Snapshots panel and set it to be the ‘Before’.
Note that you can actually use any step in your History panel to be the ‘before’ but I recommend using a Snapshot of an image that you are relatively pleased with. It assumes that you’ve put some thought and consideration into getting to that stage making it something worth comparing to.
Hope some of you find this tip useful.