When I first started using Lightroom, the ways of Non-Destructive workflows were nothing new to me.
I had already used Canons Digital Photo Professional (DPP) and Corel Aftershot (the first version, which had its share of quirks).
I understood that you did not alter the RAW files at all, you were just creating a sidecar file, containing a "recipe" for how the RAW file should be developed.
This way of working is excellent as it allows you to experiment with multiple versions of the same photo, without having to have multiple versions of the photo lying around. You would only have multiple "recipe" files, which take up only a small fraction of the actual photo file.
But one thing annoyed me. There were no way of making a photo "Final" or "Read only".
An example: You import a photo and give it your default treatment. Next, you creat a Virtual copy and try another preset to it. Then you mess around with the various slider, to get the perfect look. Once you are done, you export the photo as a jpg and that's about it.
But now that you have reached a point where you are satisified, there is no way of marking the Virtual Copy "Read Only", which means that it is possible to ruin you fine work by accident if you at some point copy some settings to the final version you exported.
Of course you have the History panel, in which you can roll back to previous steps in the development, but you would have to roll back on step of the time until you are back where you should be. This works, but it is not a very elegant way of doing it.
Instead, Lightroom provides a Snapshot feature, which sort of, but not entirely, do what I want:
In the Snapshots panel, click the '+' icon and enter a name for your final edit in the dialog. You should now see an entry with that name in your snapshot panel. If you continue to work on the photo but wants to revert the changes you made since the last Snapshot, you can do this by simply clicking the snapshot. You can create multiple Snapshots for each photo too, if you want.
In some ways this solves the Final / "Read Only" issue, but there are still some minor issues to be aware of:
- It is still possible to make changes to a photo that you consider final. This is not really a major issue anymore, as you can now revert to the Snapshot.
- You can still accidentally delete the Virtual Copy you are working on.
- You can't do a search for all photos that have one or more snapshots on it.
- You can't create Snapshot for all selected photos at once, if you have multiple photos selected. You have to create one snapshot at the time.
Still, Snapshots solves the main issue of accidentally messing up your work and having to figure out how it looked when you considered it done, and Snapshots seems to be the generally accepted way of dealing with final versions.
I still think there is room for improvement, but at least now I have a safe way to revert to my final state.
Also, snapshots can be used if you want to experiment with different exposures, crops or sharpening settings, as you can always go back to the snapshot of your choice.