When working on an image in the Develop Module you may have noticed a panel designated for Snapshots, it lives just under the Presets Panel on the left side. And the name pretty much gives away what it is - a quick snapshot of the image you are working on. But are they really helpful and how are they different from Virtual Copies? What is a Virtual Copy anyway you ask? We'll get to that in a minute.
So is a Snapshot helpful? Well first, let's be clear as to what a Snapshot truly is. A Snapshot is just a saved history state of your image. To create a Snapshot what you should do is open the Snapshot Panel and tap the plus symbol - this will create a Snapshot. When you tap the plus symbol to create the Snapshot a dialog box pops up asking you to name the Snapshot or keep the Date and Time stamp name that comes up by default. I suggest changing the name to something more useful than the date and time. Hit "Create" and voila you have a Snapshot - a saved history state of your image. And yes, it can be helpful. You can create multiple Snapshots of an image at multiple stages of the Develop process. In the image in this post I created a Snapshot immediately after I adjusted the Chromatic Aberration and Lens Profile. I then hit the "Auto" Exposure button and created a Snapshot after that. I kept working from that point and made another snapshot after doing some Temperature and Exposure adjustments. I also decided that I wanted to see what it looked like in Black and White so I converted to Black and White and created another Snapshot. I can simply click on any of these Snapshots and Lightroom brings up the image just as it was when I created that particular Snapshot. So it gives you a lot of leeway to experiment and try new things without having to worry about how to get back to a certain point of your Develop Process.
The other thing that can be helpful when using Snapshots is the "Sync Snapshots" feature in the "Settings" Menu. This allows to sync certain attributes or adjustments that have been made since creating a Snapshot. To sync the settings simply go to the "Settings" menu and select "Sync Snapshots..." and remember wherever you see an ellipsis (...) there are more options to follow. The options in this case is a plethora of develop settings that you can choose to synchronize across the Snapshots. A good example would be if you used the Clone/Heal Tool to do away with some imperfections, you could select that as an option to sync across Snapshots. As you can see in the nearby image the options are many! And if you're curious there is of course a keyboard shortcut for creating a Snapshot and that is cmd(mac) or ctrl(pc) + N.
But if you've ever used or heard of Virtual Copies this can all sound quite familiar and you might be wondering how the two differ. While a Snapshot is a saved history state, a Virtual Copy is a proxy copy of the master file. And since it is a copy - and not just a saved history state - it gives you more flexibility than a Snapshot. How so? Good question! Once you create a Virtual Copy it gets stacked with the original file in the Library, so you can see the different versions side by side in the Grid View and you can then also use the compare modes to analyze your different versions of the image. Most importantly - in my opinion at least - you can place Virtual Copies in Collections. So if I have a color version of a photograph and a Virtual Copy that I converted to Black and White I could, for example, add the Black and White version to my black and white Collection(collections are something we will be talking about soon). When you do create a Virtual Copy you will be able to tell what image is a Virtual Copy in the Grid View by the "turned up corner" in the lower left of the thumbnail image. And of course there is a keyboard shortcut for creating a Virtual Copy and that is cmd(mac) or ctrl(pc) + ' (apostrophe).
Alright! So now you hopefully understand what a Snapshot and Virtual Copy are and how they can be beneficial to your workflow. If you have any comments or questions please feel to contact me and you are always welcome to post any questions to the Facebook Group Page.