Lightroom FAQ

Lightroom FAQQ: When I am in Lightroom, my images look great when I am first loading them, then they change and look more dull. What gives?

A: The first image you see is a small embedded jpg that the camera makes to display on the screen. Then as the file loads, you see the unprocessed raw file. The jpg will have in camera processing, the raw will not. You can try the camera profiles in the camera calibration panel to see if any of them give you a starting point you like better. If so, you can have LR apply it on import from now on. More info on how to apply a camera calibration on import can be found here on Matt Kloskowski’s Lightroom Killer Tips blog.

Think of it like this…..your image is like a cake. When you see the jpg preview, you see the potential decorated cake. Then it goes back to the plain just baked cake. Some people will say that .jpg looks better. With .jpg, you don’t get to decide how to decorate the cake, the camera decides for you. Sure, you could scrape off a bit of the frosting and fix it, but if you do too much it will look a mess.¬† With RAW, you have to do the decorating yourself, but the possibilities are much wider.


You probably moved or renamed your files and folders outside of Lightroom. This makes it so that Lightroom can no longer find them, so it gives you a question mark. Stay calm, as long as you didn’t permanently delete them, this is fixable! Just follow the instructions here.

Q: Why don’t my Photoshop edits appear in Lightroom when I am done?

A: It depends on how you are moving from Lightroom into Photoshop. Ideally, when you take an image into Photoshop, you use the method Adobe intended. You right click on the image, choose “edit in” and select your version of Photoshop or PSE as the external editor. Lightroom will make a copy of your image (Which could be any number of formats based on your External Editing preferences.) and take that copy into Photoshop. If you get a dialog box that tells you that you have different versions of ACR between the two, always choose “Open a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments” because otherwise it will open back at your original RAW state. When you are done with editing in Photoshop, merely save and close. Where people go wrong is using “Save As” because they think they will overwrite the original. You won’t. Rememeber a few sentences back when I said “Lightroom will make a copy of your image and take that copy into Photoshop.” – it’s the copy you’re saving. If you do a “Save As” you will make a THIRD copy that is not in the LR catalog. So stick with plain old save.

If for some reason, you are exporting before opening in PS, then you would have to go back to LR and import them. Honestly, this is a waste of time and a hassle. I don’t recommend it. Stick with the integration between the two programs as Adobe designed it.

Q: I can’t open my catalog! It says that it already is in use, but it isn’t!

A: Lightroom probably didn’t shut down properly last time you used it. Maybe your computer crashed, maybe your laptop battery died. Whenever a catalog is open, LR creates a file that prevents it from being open twice at once. When you shut down LR, it gets deleted. If LR doesn’t shut down properly, this temporary .lock file will not get deleted. Find it and delete it. It will be in the same place as your catalog file. If you don’t know where that is, use the finder or explorer to search your computer for all files ending in .lrcat

Q: Lightroom won’t open my RAW files from my new camera! Why does Adobe do this to me?

A: Frustrating, isn’t it? Incompatibility issues are the consequence of letting your software get outdated.
At this point, you have a few options:

1. Shoot .jpg – not the best, but it will work.

2. Use Adobe’s free DNG converter – it adds another step to you workflow (thumbs down) but it will get RAW files into LR (thumbs up!) and it is free (another thumbs up!)

3. Upgrade your software. If you’re lucky, a free intermediate upgrade might work. In LR, go under help and choose “Check for updates”. If there is a free update, it will let you know and you can install it. Camera compatibility is usually the biggest thing updated in these updates. If your new camera came out after a new large, paid update to LR, that might not work and you may need to upgrade to the newer version of LR.

It’s not profitable for Adobe to go back and make all previous editions of the software compatible with current cameras. It’s not Adobe’s fault, either. Blame the camera manufacturers who keep reinventing new proprietary¬†RAW formats for each camera.

Have you got a Lightroom question you’d like to ask? Use the contact form above to send it to me!

by Andrea Lythgoe