Why Does Your Photo Suddenly Change in Lightroom?


A vibrant image from Adobe Lightroom

A vibrant image from Adobe Lightroom

We’ve all been there. You’ve got some great photos on your card, they looked great in your camera. They were so bright and vibrant and you could wait to get them into Lightroom to give them a bit of a tweak. As you imported them they were looking great and then all of a sudden…. blah.

What the heck happened?

Chances are that you are shooting in RAW, like most people these days. That first glimpse that you saw in lightroom and/or the image that you saw on your camera is what the camera adjusted your image to look like. However, when you import it into lightroom everything basically gets “zeroed” because the RAW image still needs to be rendered. The preview that you see is the profile that lightroom think your image should look like.  Typically, this preview is a no frills basic/ close-to-how-the-scene-actually-looked type profile. So there maybe a slight difference between the two profiles. Due to the fact that you are shooting in RAW, you can begin to edit the image the way that you want.

Camera calibration in Lightroom

What the heck can you do about it?

The first thing that you can do is to jump into the development module and see if there is a profile that matches. To do this, press “d” to enter the develop module and then scroll down to the bottom where it says “Camera Calibration” and look for the part that says “Profile” then adjust the setting to what you want.

The default setting is normally “adobe standard” but lightroom also includes a few of the cameras “creative settings” as well. I find that “camera landscape” does a pretty good job of bringing back life into the photo. However, you may want to play around with the setting to see what you like.

You can also create an import preset that will adjust the settings when you first import your photos into the library. However, due to the fact that every scene that you shoot is probably going to be different, this may cause a few problems.

Canon 5d mk iii screen

The last thing that you can do if you really want to keep those images the same as you shot in camera is either just shoot in .jpg or shoot RAW+jpeg. To be honest if you have the space and are really focussed on the look that you saw, RAW+jpeg would be the better choice. The reason being is that with RAW you can change your image inside of lightroom effortlessly and always get back to zero. However, with the jpg, you are stuck with the changes from the camera and the compression as well.

What the heck to you recommend?

If you really want to know, I would say just shoot RAW and work on getting your own look. However, that is just me and I have been in your shoes before where the photo looks so rich and vibrant but then suddenly turns lifeless and dull. If you really want those changes and the camera profiles are not to your liking, then you might want to try the RAW+jpeg  tip mentioned above.

Also I will be covering all these topics and more in a new tutorial that I am releasing next week called Lightroom Basics click here or the box below for more information on my tutorials.

Jason Teale Photography Tutorials

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