George Cairns shows how you can edit images that you don’t have to hand by using Lightroom’s Smart Previews
Edit images in Lightroom even when the original file isn’t available
As we revealed in issue 43, Lightroom can gather photos from a variety of locations, such as your external hard drives, into its Catalog. It then creates and stores standard-resolution previews of each imported photo on your PC or Mac, while the original, high-resolution images are kept on your hard drives. This enables you to save valuable disc space on your machine.
If you plan to use a laptop to edit your photos while you’re away from home, you won’t want to have to lug around a collection of hard drives in order to access and edit your images. By creating a Smart Preview of a photo you can edit the image while on the move without requiring access to the external hard drive where the actual image is actually stored.
Here’s how it works: after you’ve disconnected the external hard drive containing the original RAW file, you can still apply all of the photo-fixing tweaks in Lightroom’s Develop module to the Smart Preview version of the photo. When you reconnect your laptop with the external hard drive, Lightroom will automatically look at all the edits you made to the Smart Preview, and then ‘apply’ them to the high-resolution original (Lightroom is non-destructive, of course).
In the following walkthrough, we’ll be working with an over-exposed start image that’s been imported from an external hard drive. You can download this image from the link below, and then copy it onto an external drive, so you can discover how Smart Previews work their magic to give you the freedom to edit any photo at any time, and in any place.
By creating a Smart Preview of a photo, you can edit the image while on the move without requiring access to the hard drive where the photograph is actually stored