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Getting a B&W Before/After of Your B&W Editing

If you started with a color photo (which we normally would), and you converted that image to black and white, and then you edited your black and white image so it’s better than the default black and white conversion (still with me?) if you press the \ (backslash) key to see your before image it will show you the original color image.

But when we’re tweaking a black and white image, what we might want (well, I always want), is to see a “before” image of the default black and white versus our tweaks, not jumping all the way back to the color image, which is kinda useless. So, how do we get to that?

There are two ways to get around this:

B&W1

(1) As soon as you convert to black and white, press Command-N (PC: Ctrl-N) to save the conversion as a snapshot. Now you can get back to your B&W original anytime by going to the Snapshots panel and clicking on that snapshot. Or…

B&W2

(2) After you convert to black and white, press Command-’ (PC: Ctrl-’) to make a virtual copy, and then do your editing on this copy. That way you can use \ to compare your black and white tweaks against the default black and white.

[UPDATE: Awesome bonus tip from reader Steve Crane. He wrote: “Also, remember that you can right click on any history step and designate it as the before image so that is what is flipped to when pressing ‘\’. For the black and white example, designate the step that converted to B&W as the before image.” Thanks, Steve! 🙂

Hope you find that helpful.

Best,

-Scott

P.S. This part is just for members of the KelbyOne Online Training Community- make sure you check out my class on “Cool layout idea in Lightroom.” I’ve gotten a ton of great feedback on it, and in the class I build lots of those multi-photo layouts, so even if you know how to make them, and just need some new ideas or creative inspiration, give this one a ook. Here’s the link. 

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9 comments

  1. Howard 6 July, 2015 at 09:21 Reply

    Even better, Markus… Do your initial B&W conversion, then CTRL \ ( or click on YY)…

    You’ll see the colour original in the left Before panel, with the B&W in the right After panel…

    From the History sub-panel, in the Develop lefthand panel…

    Click on where it says “convert to Black and White” and DRAG it over and drop into the left Before panel.

    Now, from that point on, when you go back again to compare the before and after, the convert to B&W image will be the new BEFORE point.

  2. Matt S 6 July, 2015 at 09:17 Reply

    I use this: go to the history window and right click on the position you want to use as the “before” state. Then go and click on the top line in the history. At that point using the \ will automatically swap back to the before state you just choose.

  3. Paul C 6 July, 2015 at 09:08 Reply

    Thanks…. snapshots are fabulous but I forget about them so often. Because most of the size of my LR database seems to be history data, when I remember I like to take a snapshot then delete the history – keeps the file small.

  4. Mike 6 July, 2015 at 08:01 Reply

    Thanks for the tip, I agree that going back to colour is not ideal.

    Looks like the museum of natural history in London, a great spot.

  5. Steve Crane 6 July, 2015 at 07:04 Reply

    Also, remember that you can right click on any history step and designate it as the before image so that is what is flipped to when pressing ‘\’. For the black and white example, designate the step that converted to B&W as the before image.

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