Recreating Your Virtual Copies From An XMP

In my last post, I showed you a way to store your virtual copy edits in your XMP file using snapshots. In this post, I will show you how to easily recreate your virtual copies in your Lightroom catalog after you reimport an image with a sidecar file.

Step 1 – Let’s Create Some Snapshots!

The key to this Lightroom hack is to store your final versions of your virtual copies as snapshots, which is what gets stored with the sidecar XMP. You can easily create a snapshot by pulling up each virtual copy and using the shortcut  + NControl + N.

lightroom snapshots xmp virtual copy

Lightroom Fanatic – Snapshots

Step 2 – Save Your Metadata To An XMP File

To force Lightroom to write your metadata changes, which includes the associated snapshots, to a sidecar file, use the shortcut  + S / Control + S.

Lightroom Fanatic - Save Metadata

Lightroom Fanatic – Save Metadata

Step 3 – Archive Your Original And XMP File

Now that you have everything tucked away inside the XMP file, you can archive your files as you normally would in your workflow. In my case, I copy the Originals folder that has my raw images and the sidecar XMP files to my NAS drive, and then I remove the folder from my Lightroom catalog.

Step 4 – Enter: The Universe

As some point, the Universe is going to create a situation where you will need to recreate or make a modification to an image that you processed years ago. Maybe your final images were on a hard drive that crashed. Maybe a gallery wants to pay you a billion dollars for one of the alternate versions of an image. Whatever the reason, because you have every version final version of an image stored as a snapshot in the XMP file, you will be able to access the processed images and collect your fortune.

Step 5 – Import Your Original Image And XMP Files In To Lightroom

In order to get access to the image and processing data stored in the XMP file, add the image or folder in to Lightroom by adding the folder or by using the Import dialog. Lightroom will add the image in to the catalog and bring in the metadata stored in the XMP file.

Step 6 – Create Virtual Copies Of The Original Image

Now that your image is back in Lightroom, go ahead and create some virtual copies of the image by using the shortcut  + ‘ / Control + ‘.


Lightroom Fanatic – Create Virtual Copies

Step 7 – Apply Snapshots To New Virtual Copies

Navigate to one of your virtual copies, and click on the snapshot that you want to recreate.


Lightroom Fanatic – Recreated Virtual Copy From XMP

Step 8 – Rejoice!

That’s it! You’ve recreated virtual copies from your XMP file by cleverly using Lightroom snapshots! Just remember, if you made changes to your image and you plan on archiving it again, create new snapshots and save those to your XMP, as well. Because the Universe has a funny way of repeating Step 4.

Storing Virtual Copies In Your Sidecar XMP File

One of the downsides of relying on the XMP sidecar files is that they don’t store virtual copies. That means that if you archive your files outside of a Lightroom catalog and rely on an XMP file to store your changes to an image, when you bring an image back in to Lightroom, the XMP only enables Lightroom to recreate the last state of the original image. If you had processed virtual copies of the image, those virtual copies are not recreated. They’re gone. Lost forever as soon as you removed the original image from the catalog.

Wait, what kind of trick is this? The title of the post says that you can store virtual copies in your sidecar file. What gives?

Hang tight, Fanatic. Technically, it’s true. Lightroom does not store the virtual copies in the XMP file. Virtual copies are just that…virtual. They don’t exist anywhere except in the Lightroom catalog. However, Lightroom does store snapshots in the XMP file, and you can take advantage of the way that Lightroom does that to store the state of your virtual copies in the XMP file associated with the original image.

In Lightroom, each virtual copy is tethered to the original image.  While it might feel like you’re editing distinct copies of an image, it’s all smoke and mirrors. Lightroom still references the original image to find its base upon which to apply any modifications you are making to the virtual copy.  When you create a snapshot of a virtual copy, the snapshot gets associated with all the virtual copies and the original image. Go ahead. Try it. Create a snapshot on one of your virtual copies, and then run through the original and all the copies, and you’ll see that snapshot gets listed in the Snapshots panel for all of them. A side effect of this behavior, though, is that means that the snapshot also gets stored in the XMP file for the original image.

See where I’m headed?

If you have an image and create virtual copies and process them differently, when you’re ready to archive your file you can create snapshots of each of the virtual copies and store the processing data for each copy in the original file’s XMP sidecar, which will allow you to recreate those virtual copies should you need to down the road.

The Example…

In this example, I’ve taken an image and processed it in color and processed a virtual copy of the image in black and white.


Lightroom Fanatic – Create Color Snapshot

lightroom virtual copy xmp sidecar snapshot

Lightroom Fanatic – Snapshot Created From Virtual Copy

As you can see, both snapshots are visible when you look at either the original or the virtual copy. Next, I saved the changes to the sidecar XMP file (Command-S).

With the XMP file saved, I removed the image and virtual copies from my catalog. I then copied the raw file in to one folder without an XMP, and in to another folder with the XMP file and added both folders back in to my Lightroom catalog.


Lightroom Fanatic – Test Folders


Lightroom Fanatic – Test Folder Images

With the image that had no XMP file, as expected there were no changes made to the original image, and no snapshots.

On the copy of the image that did have the XMP file, navigating to it in Lightroom showed that there were two snapshots already associated with the image. When I clicked on the black and white snapshot, which again was created from the virtual copy, I was able to reproduce the changes made to the copy.

recreate virtual copy xmp snapshot

Lightroom Fanatic – Restored Edits Made To Virtual Copy From Snapshot

There you go! Now, each snapshot I have stored in the XMP represents the changes I made to the original and any virtual copies!

I’d like to thank Stephen for posting a comment that inspired the creation of this post. If you have any questions about Lightroom or are struggling with how to bend it to your will, please comment or shoot me a tweet to @lrfanatic and you, too, might see a post on Lightroom Fanatic!

Changing The Adjustment Brush Properties In Lightroom 5

The adjustment brush provides a way to make local adjustments to your images from inside of Lightroom. Whether you want to dodge and burn areas of an image, soften the skin or whiten the teeth of a model, or think outside the box and apply your own unique creative touches to an image, the adjustment brush is the tool for the job.

Along with the adjustments being applied, you have control over the brush itself. In this tutorial, I will show you how to control the adjustment brush and apply as much or as little of an effect as you want.

Use the shortcut K from the Library or Develop module to open the adjustment brush tool. The adjustment brush panel will open where you can adjust the effect sliders. Below the effects, you’ll see the Brush section. The Brush section is where you can define the properties of your brush.

adobe lightroom adjustment brush properties

Lightroom Fanatic – Adjustment Brush – Brush Properties

Below is a run-down of all the sliders you can use to change the characteristics of your brush.


As the name implies, the size slider will determine how big your brush is. The bigger the number, the bigger the brush.

lightroom adjustment brush size tutorial

Lightroom Fanatic – Adjustment Brush – Size


The feathering option controls the softness at the edges of the brush. With no feathering, the transition between your effect and the surrounding pixels is a hard edge. With a higher feather value, there is a much softer blending of the pixels between your effect and the surrounding.

adobe lightroom adjustment brush feather

Lightroom Fanatic – Adjustment Brush – Feather

Feathering works outwards from the size of your brush. Fortunately, Lightroom provides a preview of your brush when you hover over the Size or Feather slider, which will look like the graphic below. The Size value controls the inner circle, and the Feather value controllers the outer circle. With a Feather value of 0, you will only see one circle for the Size.



Flow controls the rate at which an effect is applied. Think of Flow as water through a hose. The higher the value, the faster the effect will be applied. At 100, the effect will be applied at 100% the normal rate. At a value of 40, the effect will be applied at 40% of normal rate.

adobe lightroom adjustment brush flow

Lightroom Fanatic – Adjustment Brush – Flow


Flow and Density can be confusing because sometimes their effects can look very similar. But where Flow controls the rate of application. Density puts a cap on how strong the effect will look on your image controlling the transparency of the effect.

adobe lightroom adjustment brush density

Lightroom Fanatic – Adjustment Brush – Density

Auto Mask

Under the Flow slider, there is a checkbox labelled Auto Mask. With Auto Mask on, Lightroom will confine your brush strokes to areas of similar color. Instead of having to use an impossibly small brush to get very distinct brush strokes on an object, you can start painting inside the object and when you reach an edge and as long as there is enough color separation, Lightroom will not apply the effect to the area outside the object being painted.

adobe lightroom adjustment brush auto mask

Lightroom Fanatic – Adjustment Brush – Auto Mask


At the top of the brush properties section of the Adjustment Brush panel, there are three links: A, B, and Erase. Lightroom allows you to define two separate brushes (A and B) and lets you easily switch between them by clicking on the brush label. I like to have one brush set up as a big, high flow brush and the second brush set up for more intricate detail work instead of constantly messing with the brush sliders.

The Erase brush is your eraser, and you can define separate properties for your eraser, as well.

Adjustment Brush Shortcuts

Finally, I wanted to provide a list or shortcuts that you can use to adjust your brush on the fly. These shortcuts will allow you to change the properties of your brush using your keyboard while you’re using your mouse to apply the effect. Mastering these shortcuts will dramatically increase the speed at which you can apply your local adjustments using the Adjustment Brush.

Shortcut Description
K Access Adjustment Brush
[ / ] Decrease / Increase Brush Size
Shift + [ / Shift + ] Decrease / Increase Feather Size
19 Adjust the Flow
O Turn on brush overlay to see where you’ve applied the effect
Shift + O Change the color of the overlay
Alt / Option Turn your brush in to an eraser


5 Reasons Why Lightroom Is Perfect For Bloggers And Content Providers

If you run a website or a blog, you are probably already aware of the importance of including images in your content. Web pages that intelligently use images to break up a post’s text content are more interesting, provide a better user experience, and will garner more views and user engagement than those that only use text. Images can also convey your message better than even the best copy.

Lightroom Fanatic - Lightroom For Non-Photographers

But managing those images and finding the right one for a post can sometimes be a chore. That’s when it’s time to turn to the solution that photographers use to manager their images…Lightroom! Adobe Lightroom is a powerful photo processing tool, but its image management features also make it perfect for non-photographers to better manager their photo and image libraries.

Here are my top 5 reasons why Lightroom is the perfect image management tool for bloggers and content providers…even if they aren’t photographers.

Getting Started Is A Snap

One of the big hurdles for most non-photographers when looking for an image management solution is how complicated it is to get started. With Lightroom, getting started is as simple as pointing Lightroom to where your images are located. Whether your library consists of your own photos, stock images, or images from your iPhone, you can take advantage of the powerful catalog and image management capabilities in no time!

Finding An Image Is Easy With Keywords

Once your images are inside of Lightroom, you can easily find a relevant image by searching for the right keywords. I might tag a red rose with “flower, red, rose, petal, nature”. Later on, if I need something red for a post, I could search for the keyword “red” and that, along with every other image I tagged as red, will come back in my search. Lightroom will also show me keywords that I’ve used before so that I can keep my keywords concise. Keywords, rating, and flagging make it easy to find the image you are looking for.

Create And Apply Watermarks

There are many reasons why people watermark their images. While watermarking won’t necessarily stop someone from stealing your image, it does allow you to add your website or brand to an image so that when they show up in a Google image search, for example, the watermark will be visible when the rest of your content is not which can lead to more exposure. Lightroom gives content providers the ability to create their own watermarks from text or a graphic and apply that watermark to their images, either by exporting them or uploading them to a blog.

Easy Exporting To Your Blog

In the old days, you might have to export an image from one tool, apply a watermark with another, and then use yet another tool to upload the image to your blog. With Lightroom, applying a watermark and exporting to most popular content platforms like WordPress can be done easily and seamlessly from the same tool. Exporting directly not an option? It’s still easy to resize and apply a watermark, and then all you need to do is upload it yourself.

Oh, And You Can Also Edit Your Images

Did you know that Lightroom is also an image editor? Even with some well-produced stock images, it can be necessary to crop to fit a particular aspect ratio, or to resize it or reduce the quality to reduce its size. That’s a breeze with Lightroom. Want to use images from your iPhone? Some simple adjustments can make an ordinary snapshot something extraordinary. Image editing in Lightroom is much easier than a more complicated tool like Photoshop, but it’s just as powerful. With a small learning curve, you can become proficient in no time!

Ready to get started? Download the free trial of Lightroom today!


Publishing To Flickr From Lightroom

For the longest time, Flickr was the destination for many of my images. But then the Internet grew up and my photography evolved but Flickr didn’t, and drawbacks of staying on a legacy, out-of-data platform outweighed the benefits of sharing images with a community on a social site. As a result, I moved my images to other sites or hosted them on my own domains.

Over the last few years, however, Flickr has undergone a bit of a revival, with a new interface and a host of new features. I’ve started exploring some of those features and have been impressed enough to consider doing more there. Of course, since my workflow is Lightroom driven, I had to make sure that Lightroom and Flickr would play well together.

It turns out, they get along just fine. In fact, Lightroom ships with a Flickr Publishing module.

Exporting vs. Publishing

A quick note about publishing compared to exporting. In Lightroom, exporting creates a version of an image that lives outside of Lightroom. Lightroom doesn’t keep track of that image once it leaves Lightroom. With publishing, Lightroom maintains an association between the original image and the published image, which means Lightroom knows when you’ve made changes to an image after it has been published.

In our Flickr scenario, if you export an image and upload it to Flickr, make a change, and export another copy of the image, uploading the new version will result in two images in Flickr. When you publish an image to Flickr, make a change, Lightroom knows there is a difference between the image and the last published image, and you can republish the image to Flickr, overwriting the Flickr copy with the changes.

Publishing Services

The Publishing Services can be access in the Grid view in the leftmost panel. If you don’t see the option, right-click on the panel and select Publish Services, or navigate to Window > Panels > Publish Services.

adobe lightroom fanatic grid view no publish

Lightroom Fanatic – Enable Publish Services

Once the Publish Services are enabled, you should see the Flickr option, as shown below. If not, then you will need to go in to your Plug-in Manager and enable the Flickr plug-in.

adobe lightroom 5 flickr publish services

Lightroom Fanatic – Publish Services

Setting Up The Flickr Publisher

In order to use the Flickr publisher, you’ll need to connect Lightroom to Flickr first. Click on the Set Up… link, which will bring up the Lightroom Publishing Manager.

adobe lightroom publishing manager flickr

Lightroom Fanatic – Publishing Manager

The Publishing Manager is similar to the export dialog, where you can specify formats for naming files, how to resize images, and sharpening and metadata management. At the top of the dialog under Flickr Account, click the Authorize button to begin the connection process.

adobe lightroom authorize flickr permission

Lightroom Fanatic – Authorize Flickr

Click on the Authorize and launch the Flickr authorization page in your browser.

adobe lightroom flickr authorization

Lightroom Fanatic – Flickr Authorization

Click the OK, I’LL AUTHORIZE IT button to enable the integration. Or not. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life. But if you click NO THANKS, the rest of this tutorial is going to seem pretty frustrating.

If you got this far, you probably clicked the AUTHORIZE button. Good job! This is totally going to be worth it. Even if you use Chrome and get this weird warning message (to which you should go ahead and click Launch Application to complete the process).

adobe lightroom chrome flickr authorization

Lightroom Fanatic – Chrome To Lightroom

Back in Lightroom, under the Flickr Account section, it should now show that you are authorized as your user name and ready to take advantage of the publisher.

adobe lightroom configured flickr publisher

Lightroom Fanatic – Connected Flickr Publisher

If you give the settings a description, click Save and close the Publishing Manager, you will also see that the Flickr publisher is connected.

adobe lightroom connected publisher flickr

Lightroom Fanatic – Connected Publisher

 Configuring The Flickr Publisher

Now that the publisher is authorized, pop back in to the Publishing Manager to configure the rest of the settings. As I mentioned above, many of the publishing settings are similar to the export settings.

adobe lightroom flickr publishing manager options

Lightroom Fanatic – Publishing Manager – Top

The bottom of the Flickr options include the metadata options, watermarking, and some Flickr-specific privacy and safety settings. If you’re using Flickr, you are probably already familiar with what those settings mean, but if you aren’t, consult the Flickr documentation or refer to the help forum.

adobe lightroom flickr publishing manager options

Lightroom Fanatic – Publishing Manager – Bottom

Publishing Images

Great! Now you’re connected, authorized, and you’ve got your settings right where you want them. Now, it’s time to publish some images!

While there is a default Photostream listed underneath the Flickr publisher, you can also create a new photoset by right-clicking on your Flickr publisher and clicking Create Photoset… which looks a lot like creating a collection. It even has the option to include any selected images. Neat.

adobe lightroom flickr image to publish

Lightroom Fanatic – Images To Publish

In the image above, I dragged a bunch of images in to a Pueblo Trip collection that I created. As you can see, they show up in the Library view under a group labeled New Photos to Publish. That lets me know that I haven’t actually published the images yet. I clicked Publish and Lightroom sends my images up to Flickr. It’s all braggy, too, so it will tell me it’s doing it.

adobe lightroom flickr publish

Lightroom Fanatic – Publishing To Flickr

Once the process completed, my images were in Flickr! Magic! Or technology. Or both.

Lightroom Fanatic - Published Album In Flickr

Lightroom Fanatic – Published Album In Flickr

adobe lightroom published to flickr

Lightroom Fanatic – Published To Flickr

In a future post, I’ll go more in depth on some of the intricacies of dealing with publishing, but at this point, you’re connected. One thing to keep in mind is that the terminology Lightroom uses for Flickr doesn’t exactly line up (photosets, albums, collections seem to be used interchangeably), but they’re close enough to be useful.