In Depth: Mastering Lightroom 4 Virtual Copies, by Romanas Naryškin at Photography Life.

In Depth: Mastering Lightroom 4 Virtual Copies, by Romanas Naryškin at Photography Life.

I try to post about most comprehensive Lightroom tutorials out there, and this is the best one when it comes to Virtual Copies in LR4:

"As the name suggests, Virtual Copies are copies of an image file created virtually. In other words, they are copies created within Lightroom environment only. Creating a Virtual Copy does not copy the source file physically. Lightroom only stores editing information within its catalog. Among other things, such an approach also saves disk space (you only need to store information about the adjustments, not both that and a copy of the RAW file itself).

What Virtual Copies allow photographers to do is create several versions of a single photograph, post-process them differently and compare them or export both. Before taking a photograph, I often know whether I want it in color or B&W, but sometimes I prefer to see the end result before deciding which approach works best. In some cases, I will keep both images as I feel either processing adds something different to a photograph. These are just two of the cases when Virtual Copies are life-savers, because they are so easy to set up and compare. Take a look at the following image. In the Filmstrip, you will see 5 Virtual Copies of a single photograph, all processed differently:

I also prefer to use Virtual Copies while working on new presets for my images. As I’ve already mentioned in one of my previous Mastering Lightroom articles, presets allow one to process images much more quickly. In turn, Virtual Copies allow me to fine-tune settings before saving a preset much more efficiently. Why? Well, eyes tend to become less sensitive to color and tone the longer you work with photographs without taking a break. Thus, noticing subtle adjustment differences progressively becomes more difficult. One way to counter such an effect (to an extent) is to compare adjustments directly. So, Virtual Copies are useful when choosing between final photographs or particular adjustments."

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