10 Things I Would Tell a New Lightroom User: #7

Good Monday, everybody!  Before we dive into #7, just a friendly reminder: if you missed, didn’t read or forgot my official disclaimer for this series posted at the beginning of #1, please give it a quick read, so we all stay on the same page. Now, it’s time to dive right into #7:


#7: Even though you shot in RAW, Lightroom shows you the JPEG version first.

I have to explain this part first, before we get to the Lightroom part, for this to make any sense. When you shoot in JPEG mode on your camera, your camera applies sharpening, contrast, noise reduction and all sorts of goodies to your JPEG image to make it look as good as possible. When you switch your camera to shoot in RAW mode, you’re telling your camera “Turn off the sharpening; turn off the contrast; turn off the noise reduction and just give me the RAW untouched image straight out of the camera. I’ll add all that sharpening, contrast and such later in post production, so I can add as much, or as little, as I want.”

Now, here’s the “gotcha!” Even though you’re shooting in RAW mode, your camera still shows you the sharper, more contrasty, more colorful JPEG when you look at the LCD screen on the back of your camera. Now, here’s how that relates to Lightroom: when Lightroom loads your RAW image, and you double-click on a thumbnail (unless you chose to render all your previews first), it shows you the (wait for it…wait for it…) JPEG image first. The one that looks sharper, more contrasty, more colorful, etc. and you’ll know you’re seeing the JPEG because the word “Loading…” will appear below your preview (as seen above circled here in red). Then after a few seconds, the flatter-looking RAW image appears. This often freaks new users out, and I get emails asking “How do I get that first image back? Which button do I push to get that one back?”


Above: here’s the RAW image, which appeared a few seconds after the JPEG preview. In this particular case, I actually like the look of the RAW image better, but that’s not always the case, especially with travel or landscape photos where they tend to look very flat.

Sadly, there isn’t a “Make this look like the JPEG” button, but here’s something you can try that will get you close.

STEP ONE: Go out and shoot in RAW + JPEG mode in your camera.

STEP TWO: Import those images into Lightroom; pick a decent looking image that’s typical of what you normally shoot, then click on the RAW image.


STEP THREE: Go to the Camera Calibration panel (seen above) and from the Profile pop-up menu at the top, try each of these profiles one at a time and see which ones makes your RAW photo look the closest to the JPEG (in this case, apply the Camera Standard profile to make it look almost exactly like the JPEG). Now, at least you have a starting place that’s closer to the look of the JPEG (of course, I would only do this if you like the JPEG look, which by the mountain of emails and questions I get on this topic, it’s a whole lotta people).

Now you can select all the images you just imported and copy and paste this setting onto them (or you can create a Develop Module preset with just Camera Calibration turned on with your favorite profile)  and have it automatically applied to your RAW images as you import them from here on out. You choose to apply this preset in the Import dialog. Or, you can use Auto Sync and select all your photos, and as long as Auto Sync is turned on (at the bottom of the Right Side panels) when you apply this profile to the first photo in your filmstrip, it will automatically apply it to all your other selected photos.

Well, there ya have it, folks — #7.

Today I’m spending the entire day with a test-group of folks who will see the first draft of my new “Shoot Like a Pro: Reloaded” tour, and these fine photographers will give me all sorts of valuable feedback so that when I launch the tour in Salt Lake City in April, it will be totally rockin’ right out of the gate. Plus, I’m excited that I’ll be teaching in our brand new in-house theater in front of a live audience. It’s going to be a really fun day!

Hope you have a really fun Monday, too!