Lightroom: "Merge" or "Flatten" Edits/Settings to create a baseline that may work with presets/sync

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  • Updated 2 years ago
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After making basic adjustments to each image in a wedding/session, I'd like a way to "Merge" or "Flatten" the settings to create a "baseline" snapshot that has been zeroed out in all settings (but doesn't lose the adjustments).  I find that in most all of my sessions or weddings there are lots of images that need to be individually (or by groups) tweaked to achieve a consistent look throughout. Whether it's by accident (over/under exposing) or just changes in lighting, location, lenses or cameras, I adjust my images for those changes until I think they all look consistent.  Note that at this point, the adjustment sliders may look different for every image/similar group of images.  The different values in the adjustment sliders means that most of my favorite presets don't work because they override any adjustments, and apply the same values across all the images-which in turn makes them all look inconsistent again.  

Since the need for the initial corrections is nobody's fault but my own, I don't mind tweaking every image to my liking.  But the extra work to adjust every image again because the presets are messing them up is frustrating.  Once I get them all adjusted to a "baseline" if you will, I want a way to zero out the develop settings so I CAN use presets to further edit all of the images together-maintaing the consistency I desire.  

I'm not sure if this is making sense, perhaps a specific example.  For simplicity sake, say I have 2 RAW images from different settings/lightings, etc., and I want a color and black and white version for each of them.  One image is slightly overexposed, and I adjust accordingly:
exposure: -1
highlights: -13
shadows: -3
white point: +5
black point: -2
various tone curve adjustments

I adjust the 2nd photo so that it matches the look (color, exposure, contrast, etc.) of the 1st photo.  Note that the adjustment numbers (exposure: -1; highlights: -13) are not the same as the first image.  Let's call these initial adjustments the "baseline" settings.  

To get the black and white version I want, I make a virtual copy of both images and use a preset to get a high contrast black and white.  The problem is that I cannot apply the same preset to both images and get consistent results because it messes up the "baseline" values that were needed for consistent and proper exposure.  For example, if the overexposed image needed -1 in exposure to look correct, and the black and white preset has a setting of +1, this image is going to be extremely overexposed after the preset is applied.  This problem repeats for each of the baseline settings that are affected in the preset (highlights, shadows, black/white point, tone curve).  So, I have to adjust every image individually again after applying that preset if I want to get consistent results.

The workaround, I suppose, is exporting the images with the "baseline" adjustments, then re-importing them so the adjustments are zeroed out, but that's a pain.  It would be extremely helpful if there was an option to create a snapshot (not messing with the history) that keeps the current look (adjustments) of an image but zeros out the sliders/numbers- essentially creating a zeroed out "baseline" copy that presets should work similarly on.
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Laura Kent

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Posted 2 years ago

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Photo of Rikk Flohr

Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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The only way to do this currently is to bake the settings in. 

You would setup an export preset that would create a Tiff file in 16bit Pro Photo Color and export all of the images with their edits cooked in and the sliders zeroed. In that export preset, you would check the option to add the exported file back into the catalog. 

You will now have two files, the raw and the tiff. You would then further edit the Tiff. You would loose the ability to further apply camera profiles and white balance but little else. 
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Laura Kent

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Thank you! That is a much better workaround than my re-importing. And I appreciate you noting the best export settings. It's still not an ideal solution, because of the extra file compared to a baselined/"Baked" virtual copy, but it's good enough. I wonder- is this what everyone does? Or are there not many people who find they need a "baked" copy?