Further processing in LR classic after conversion

im wondering how can I continue tweaking my scans after conversion? I know I can send it to photoshop, but how can I add to conversion in Lightroom some simple tweaks like graduated or rounded filter for instance or exposure and other basic corrections? to clarify, I can do all those things but it looks like its applied to negative and results are unacceptable IMO.
Also, when I I do batch conversion and wanna tweak few shots, the look of my image changes completely when I go into NLP conversion window. Why is that?
Quite disappointed with lots of conversions, seems like NegFix in silverfast does a better job without any tweaks…

It’s important to understand that the core philosophy of Lightroom is to leave your original file untouched. This is called “non-destructive editing.” All the adjustments you make are saved separately in a database and applied only to the way the image is displayed or exported. The actual pixel values of your original files are never altered, so you can always go back later and change them or return the file to its original form if needed.

This is different from the way most simple image editors work — they change the pixel values in the original file, so changes are permanent and the only way to to retain the history of your edits is to save a series of intermediate files as you work. Some editors, such as Photoshop, have a mix of destructive and non-destructive editing features… for example, if you apply a Levels adjustment in Photoshop to change the white point, the light tones are permanently changed… but if you add a Levels adjustment layer, you can change the adjustment later, or delete the adjustment layer to get your original tones back.

Because Lightroom preserves original files, and your original file of a digitized negative is a tonally-reversed image, Negative Lab Pro can’t permanently remove that reversal. It just applies Lightroom adjustments so that your image displays as a positive with un-reversed tones. If you use any other Lightroom adjustments, they also are applied to the original unreversed image. For example, if you want to alter the white values of what you see on the screen, you need to adjust the Blacks slider in Lightroom, because the blackest areas of your original negative image control the appearance of the “white” areas of the displayed image.

This is second nature to those of us who grew up doing traditional darkroom work — where we quickly learned that more enlarger exposure gives a darker print and vice-versa — but it can be disconcerting if you are accustomed to editing on a computer and expecting that “what you see is what you get.” When editing a digitized negative image in Lightroom, what you see is the opposite of what you get, because Lightroom is applying your adjustments (including Negative Lab Pro adjustments) to the original negative image.

Because of this, it’s easiest and best to get your image looking as close as possible to the way you want it using the adjustments within Negative Lab Pro… but once that’s done, you can certainly use other Lightroom adjustments as long as you remember that they work “backwards,” just as they do in traditional darkroom printing. For example, I often want to apply a Lightroom adjustment brush to make a face slightly lighter — which I can do by applying the brush, then moving its slider slightly toward the darker setting. (Just remind yourself that making the negative darker makes the positive lighter and vice-versa.)

If this is all too bothersome, you can avoid the issue by importing your digitized files into Lightroom, making a basic conversion in NLP, then exporting from Lightroom in a format such as 16-bit TIFF. Lightroom applies all your adjustments at export time, so these TIFF files will be positive images. Then you can delete the original negative files out of Lightroom and import your new positive files instead. The new files won’t require NLP, and all Lightroom adjustments will work the way you expect.

The downside is that all the nuances of your original digitized negative files will be lost… for example, if an improved version of NLP comes out later, you won’t be able to go back and re-convert the negative images to take advantage of the improvements.

Sorry for such a long answer, but once you internalize Lightroom’s non-destructive editing concept and the fact that your original negative images stay negative no matter what adjustments you make (including NLP adjustments) a lot of questions will disappear!


Thanks for that answer. Very useful.
So NLP is basically a sophisticated preset (no disrespect intended).
Can you open NLP on a negative converted by NLP and make further edits of the image with NLP (as opposed to Lightroom or other plugins)?

I probably should defer to Nate (the developer) re details of how NLP works, but I believe it’s more than just a preset — it does its own computation to determine the best conversion for the image, even though it relies on Lightroom to provide it with a “host environment.” Correct, Nate, or no?

Anyway, once you’ve made your NLP conversion, you certainly can go back into NLP and second-guess your original decisions. Just select the image in Lightroom, type control-n to bring up the NLP dialog, and edit away. It’s generally regarded as good practice to get your image as close as possible to the way you want it using NLP’s adjustments, and rely on Lightroom’s controls only for tweaking… but I sometimes push the boundaries of that practice and and it usually works. (Just remember that unlike NLP’s sliders, the Lightroom sliders are working on the negative image, so they operate “backwards” — e.g., if you want to adjust the highlights of the final image, you move Lightroom’s shadow slider and vice-versa.)

Anyway, once you’ve made a NLP conversion

Like I said no disrespect. As a developer myself I can see NLP is a serious development effort.

I use Apple Photos for some of my pictures it too has non-destructive editing and allows plugins but perhaps not as powerful as NLP / Lightroom / Photoshop. In Photos Pixelmator has proved useful in improving some negative to positive scans from Silverfast and removed a colour cast using the ML tool, but on my small sample NLP does a better job with less messing around (I have over 80 rolls to scan).