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How to See Original in Lightroom

Published: 10/05/2021

Frequently reverting to the original image is an integral part of photo editing. You need to see how your edits are bringing changes in a photo and whether all the effects are well worth it. Knowing how to see the original in Lightroom will allow you to contemplate your editing in a better way.

How to See Originals in Lightroom While Editing

Providing options for easy access to the original image is a powerful feature in an image editing software. As you go ahead with the processing, it's hard to remember where you started. Accessible and clearly comprehensible ways to look back at the original feeds your intuition for effective editing.

In Lightroom Classic CC, the option to toggle the view and compare feature allows us to keep an eye on the original image while you edit. With time, it becomes the most used feature of photographers as they need to visualize their edits quite frequently.

Looking back at the original, unedited version will help you to see whether you have over edited the image. It will also help you rectify any local adjustments and mistakes that are causing a decline in image quality rather than improving it. 

Enable View Modes 

You must turn on the view modes in the Develop module if they are not visible to you in the toolbar below. When you enable the view mode, you get several options to view the image individually, as well as comparatively.

  1. Below the image, you will see a small triangle towards the right.
  2. Click on this triangle.
  3. Select View Modes.
  4. You will see that three different view modes are activated in the toolbar. Among these the Y|Y button, which allows the before and after view.

Toggle Between Original and Edited Image

Most of the time, when you shoot RAW images, they require processing. However, not being happy with them doesn’t mean you don’t have to view them during the editing phase. While processing RAW images, you will frequently feel the need to see the preserved details in the original image.

One of the easiest ways to view an original image while editing is a keyboard shortcut that not many Lightroom users are aware of. Tracking your progress is a lot more manageable with this option, where you get to see the full view of your original image rather than a small one in comparison view.

  1. On your keyboard, press the backslash ( \ ). It will show the unedited version on the screen.
  2. Press the backslash ( \ ) key again to resume your image processing.

For images that have small details in them, such as the interior photos in real estate, the toggle feature is very useful so that you don't miss out on any section of the photo.

Use Original and Edited View: Side by Side

Viewing the original and the processed image side by side best serves the purpose of keeping track of your editing. Lightroom provides you with the Y|Y button in Develop module for that. When you press it for the first time, you will see the original image on the left hand side and the edited image on the right hand side. 

Alternatively, you can click on the small arrow beside the Y|Y button and select Before/After Left/Right from the drop down. 

Viewing the original and the processed image side by side

Use Original and Edited View: Top/Bottom Comparison

Another comparative mode you get with the same Y|Y button is the top/bottom view, where the original image is shown on top and the edited one below. Again, you can either press the button once or choose Before/After Top/Bottom from the drop down beside it. 

This view is perfect for exterior real estate images as you can get a wider view to see the improvements. 

Viewing the original image on top and the edited one below

Original and Edited View: Split screen 

Another helpful view mode to compare the changes in a larger view is the Split Screen mode. Here, your image will be shown as a whole, but it will be split half into the original form, and the other half will be edited. 

You can see the split screen view in two ways. Either select Before/After Left/Right Split to get a side by side view, or click on Before/After Top/Bottom Split to view the top/bottom view.

Split Screen mode for viewing original and edited photos in Lightroom

Change the “Before” State 

Just beside the Y|Y button, you will see three options of Before and After. 

  1. The first one allows you to copy before settings to after, which means that your edited image will be the same as your original image. 
  2. The second option is to copy after settings to before, which means that all the processing that you have done till now will be copied to the original image as well.
  3. The third option is to swap the before and after settings. This basically swaps the processing from the edited photo onto the original and turns the edited one into the original.

These three options are also available in the Settings menu. Just go to Settings and look for the last three options which say:

  1. Copy Before Settings to After (keyboard shortcut CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+Left arrow on Windows and CMD+OPTION+SHIFT+Left arrow on Mac)
  2. Copy After Settings to Before (keyboard shortcut CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+Right arrow on Windows and CMD+OPTION+SHIFT+Right arrow on Mac)
  3. Swap Before/After settings (keyboard shortcut CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+Up arrow on Windows and CMD+OPTION+SHIFT+Up arrow on Mac)
Changing the Before state of image in Lightroom

Viewing the Original Image From the History Panel

Comparing the currently edited version to the original is simple. But you may need to view and compare the edited image with an earlier processed version. For instance, you may want to compare the views before you applied a Local Adjustment. 

  1. To do this, select any Before/After comparison view.
  2. Expand the History panel from the left hand side.
  3. Scroll down the list of your past edits, and look for the one to which you want to refer.
  4. When you find the right edit, click and drag it on the Before section of the compare view.

Reset Develop Settings

One method to revert to the original image is to reset all the Develop settings. On the right hand panel in the Develop module, you will see the Reset button. Click on it to undo all the processing done on the image.

Or, you can press CTRL + SHIFT + R on Windows or CMD + OPT + R on Mac to scrape off the edits from the image. Finally, you can undo this step by pressing CTRL + Z on Windows or CMD + Z on Mac.

View Earlier Processed Version from the Settings Tab

Each version of your edited image is stored in the Settings tab as well. To view any of these, just click on the setting tab and hover over the Processed Version option. Then, select the version you wish to view from the drop down.

View earlier processed version from the Settings tab

Conclusion

Lightroom Classic CC has bagged a reputation of being one of the best image editing software for its absolute functionalities. The ease of viewing the original image during the editing phase is a feature that makes Lightroom a convenient choice. We hope that the methods described above to view the original will be helpful for you in post-production. 

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