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Undoing from the History panel

From: Up and Running with Lightroom 3

Video: Undoing from the History panel

When you're working in Lightroom's Develop module, adjusting the appearance of your photos, you'll often want to go back a step or two, or maybe rewind all the way back to when you started editing the photo, so let me show you a couple of ways to go back in time as you're editing a photo in the Develop module. You can always use the Undo command to undo the last thing that you've done. It's here under the Edit menu, and its shortcut is the pretty much universal one, Command+Z on the Mac, or Ctrl+Z on the PC. And each time that you choose Edit > Undo or use this key command, you'll step back one more step in Lightroom's Develop module.

Undoing from the History panel

When you're working in Lightroom's Develop module, adjusting the appearance of your photos, you'll often want to go back a step or two, or maybe rewind all the way back to when you started editing the photo, so let me show you a couple of ways to go back in time as you're editing a photo in the Develop module. You can always use the Undo command to undo the last thing that you've done. It's here under the Edit menu, and its shortcut is the pretty much universal one, Command+Z on the Mac, or Ctrl+Z on the PC. And each time that you choose Edit > Undo or use this key command, you'll step back one more step in Lightroom's Develop module.

The good news is that that there's no limit to the number of times that you can undo, all the way back to the very first step, which is usually importing a photo into Lightroom. By the way, to redo, hold the Shift key as you press Command+Z, or Ctrl+Z. So, the Undo command is the simple way of undoing, but it's not always the most efficient way. If you need to undo more than a few steps, it's difficult to know where you are in the sequence of your adjustments, so I only use undo if I'm backing up a few steps; otherwise I think a better way to undo is to use this panel, the History panel.

The History panel in the left panel group in the Develop module automatically keeps track of every adjustment that you make in the Develop module. For example, keep your eye on this History panel as I go over to the Basic panel and make a few adjustments to this image. Don't worry about these particular adjustments; I'll explain these sliders in a later movie. I just want to make a few adjustments so that you can see what happens in the History panel. So now here, you can see that there are three additional steps listed, one for each of the adjustments I just made, with the latest step that I made at the top of the History panel and the oldest step that I made at the bottom of the History panel.

So you don't have to do anything to create this history list; it's done for you. There are two things about this History panel and the History list that everyone loves. One is there's no limit on the number of history states that Lightroom can keep track of here, and the second is the History list is preserved, even after you close and reopen Lightroom. So this list of adjustments that I've made today will be here the next time I work on this photo in Lightroom, even if that's next week or even next year. How is Lightroom able to store limitless history states for a limitless period of time when Photoshop can't do that? Well, it's because Lightroom restores all information, including history information and information about the adjustments you make in the Develop module, as lightweight metadata, not as pixels.

So how do I use this list of history states? Well, if I want to roll the photo back to an earlier point in time, I'll just click on the corresponding history state here, and the photo changes in the main window, and all the settings in the Develop Module change back to the way they were at the time of this state. After a while, as you continue to work on the image, you're going to get lots and lots of states here in the History panel, so it may be difficult to find just the particular state you are after, and that's where snapshots come into play. So let's say that I really like the way that the image looks here.

I can make a snapshot of it that I can come back to at any time, even if I can't find the particular saturation state in the History panel that represents the state. So I'll go to the Snapshots panel and I'll click the Plus symbol here, and I'll name this snapshot. I'll call this Soft color, and then I'll click Create. Now let's say that I go on and do something more to the image. Maybe I'll go to the Basic panel and click the Black & White button to convert it to black and white, and maybe I'll go down and drag the Blacks slider to the right, making the darker parts of the image even darker, and maybe I'll increase the contrast as well.

Now you can see the additional states here in History panel, and I can make another snapshot to memorize the way that the image looks and the way the controls are now. Again, I'll click the Plus button on the right side of the Snapshots panel. I'll name this snapshot. I'll call this Contrasty BW, for black and white, and I'll click Create. Now, let's say that I've clicked on another state down here, or I've gone ahead and done some more things to the image and I decide that I want to see the Contrasty BW state. I can go right to the Snapshots panel and access it very quickly by the relatively meaningful name that I gave it when I created the snapshot. Or if I want to see the Soft color version, I'll click here.

In an earlier movie, I mentioned another way that you can roll an image back in time, and that is to use the big Reset button over here at the bottom-right of the screen. Click this button if, but only if, your goal is to undo all the way back to the beginning of your edits, like this. This will set all the controls in the Develop panel back to their defaults, and the image will look the way that it did when I first imported it into Lightroom before I made any adjustments. Finally, what if you don't want to actually roll back in time to a previous state? You just want to compare the current adjusted state of a photo to the way the photo looked at the beginning before you made any adjustments.

So I am going to go back and click on the Soft color version of the image, and let's say I am working along and I want to know how far I've come as compared to the original image. In that case, I'm going to press a key on my keyboard, the Backslash key. So when I do that, I can see the Before state of the image and when I tap it again, I can see the After state of the image, and that's the key that I use all the time, so I wanted to share it with you. Of course, another way to see the Before and After view is to click the Before and After button down here in the toolbar, as I explained in the last movie.

And then to go back to regular Loupe view, I'll click the Loupe view icon here. So all the techniques I showed you in this movie-- the History panel, the Snapshots panel, the Backslash key--they're all worth practicing until you get to the point where you can do them without thinking, because these are the mechanics of working here in the Develop module. Once you got those under your belt, I think you'll be able to concentrate more on the real magic in the Develop module, which is adjusting your photographs, as we'll do in the next chapter.

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Up and Running with Lightroom 3

29 video lessons · 11058 viewers

Jan Kabili
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