After importing a set of photos from a concert I shot last night, I noticed the colors appear wrong as I edit the photos. I deleted the entire collection, and reimported just two photos. I was looking at thumbnails in the Library module and it looked like the colors changed as LR generated previews after the import. So I selected one of the photos and deleted the Smart Preview, but nothing changed. I deleted these two photos again and reimported without generating previews. Everything looked normal in thumbnails. When i double-clicked one of the images to enlarge it and edit it, I had to wait for it to fully load because the 1:1 preview wasn't already created. Once loaded, the colors changed and it looked wrong again! The best way I can describe it is exposure is too high and colors (especially red) are too saturated. My camera is set to simultaneously save a JPEG copy of every image, so I opened the JPEG in Windows Explorer, and it looks normal, not too red. Hopefully you can see the difference in these screen shots.
I'm fairly new to LR but I've been using it to edit concert photos for a few weeks and have not had this problem. Any idea what is going on?
When you first import a raw photo into LR, there initial preview is what the camera embedded in the photo as the preview JPG. It looks the same as the full-size camera JPG as you’re describing.
Adobe cannot know what happened in the camera to produce the camera JPG, so what you see as a preview a few seconds after importing is the Adobe raw conversion rendering using the Adobe defaults. Turning the previews off during import only delayed your seeing the Adobe rendering. Since you are using Adobe software and not software from the camera manufacturer, for raw photos you won’t see the camera rendering in LR, just the Adobe rendering.
What you’re calling “normal” is the camera rendering. What you’re calling “oversaturated” is the Adobe rendering.
Normally the camera rendering and the Adobe rendering will be reasonably similar depending on your camera settings that generate the camera preview jpg and depending on the Adobe defaults you have set in Lightroom, but in extreme lighting such as what you have on stage, the colors can be too saturated as you are seeing. The camera is likely attenuating the saturation for overly bright areas whereas Adobe is not. Depending on your camera there are alternative camera profiles down in the Camera Calibration area that might change the look to some degree. If you want to upload a raw photo to somewhere like dropbox.com and post a public share link, here, a more experienced LR user might be able to work with it and tell you if something can be done or not. The HSL area can adjust saturation for a limited range of colors and you can also create custom camera profiles that might reduce the saturation somewhat.