You know you’re a photo geek when you get super excited about a new tool in Lightroom! I’m not sure how I missed this one – it’s been out a couple of years. I’m going to be sad if you guys knew about it and didn’t share it with me! 😉
Say you take a series of photos. It’s May, so let’s use graduating seniors as our example. You go through a series of poses with your subject and want to end up with a collection of photos that looks consistent in terms of exposure, white balance, and style. After all, that senior and her mama are going to share your photos everywhere, frame them together, and maybe even create collages – you want them to look good together, right? You need consistent photo edits in Lightroom to make your images look cohesive.
Before I knew this cool tip, for consistent (affiliate link) Lightroom photo edits, I would have edited one photo, copied the edits to the other photos, and then clicked back and forth, or looked in the Library view, to make sure the group of images looked cohesive. But here’s the thing with applying edits from one photo to another in Lightroom:
- This only works if you didn’t change your shooting settings between photos. Boosting exposure by 1/3 stop on one photo is going to make the next photo too bright if you had increased exposure on camera.
- Local adjustments don’t copy and paste well from one photo to the next. If you brighten the eyes on one image, the image you copy the brightening to is going to have a couple of eye-shaped bright spots in an odd place.
- Cropping and straightening usually aren’t the same from photo to photo, especially if you don’t shoot with a tripod.
Consistent Lightroom Photo Edits: Reference View
That’s where Lightroom’s Reference View comes into play. To use it, go to Lightroom’s Develop module and make sure the Toolbar is visible at the bottom of your workspace. If not, type T to display it. (The Toolbar is marked near the lower-left corner of the image below.
Next, click the R | A button on the Toolbar (under the left arrow in the image above). You’ll see a message like this the first time you do it:
Drag your edited “Reference” photo into the reference window slot on the left, and click on the photo you’d like to edit or compare to put it into the active window slot on the right. And that’s it. You can now tweak the photo on the right until it matches the photo on the left.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still use the Sync and Auto Sync option in Lightroom. They will get your photos close to each other. And then you can use Reference View to fine-tune them.
Sync and Auto Sync for Consistent Editing
Don’t know how to use Sync and Auto Sync? They are handy tools for copying edits from one photo to the next and ensuring that you get consistent photo edits.
- Use Sync if you’ve already edited one photo and you want to copy those edits to other photos.
- Use Auto Sync if you would like to edit all the photos at once.
There’s no difference between the two. Use Sync if you don’t think about editing all of the photos at once until after you’ve finished editing the first. Use Auto Sync if you think ahead. Regardless of which you choose, you can always adjust the edits you make to any photo after syncing.
You’ll find them in the Develop Module at the bottom of your editing panel.
To toggle between Sync and Auto Sync, click the “light switch” to the right of the button.
To use them, select a photo to edit, and then hold down your command or control button as you use the film strip toselect photos that you’d like the same edits to be applied to. If Auto Sync is enabled, anything you do to one photo will be applied to all selected photos.
If you select Sync, you’ll get a popup window like this asking you to check the edits that you’d like to be applied to the other photos.
So, that’s my tip on getting consistent Lightroom photo edits. Do you need more help with Lightroom? Check out my Lightroom workshop right here.