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Lightroom-Photoshop Roundtrip Workflow

  • Sample Chapter is provided courtesy of Adobe Press.
  • Date: Nov 19, 2016.

Chapter Description

In this chapter from Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC for Photographers Classroom in a Book, author Lesa Snider teaches you how to adjust settings in both Lightroom and Photoshop to ensure you’re passing the highest-quality files back and forth between the two programs. You’ll also learn how to send files from Lightroom to Photoshop in a variety of formats, as well as how to reopen a file within Lightroom that you edited in Photoshop. In fact, this may be one of the most important lessons in this book because it covers the mechanics of a typical roundtrip workflow between Lightroom and Photoshop.

Sending a raw file from Lightroom to Photoshop

Once you adjust a raw photo in Lightroom, you may determine that you need to send it to Photoshop for some of the pixel-level editing voodoo that it excels at.

The process of sending raw files from Lightroom to Photoshop is easy, and it’s the same process for a camera manufacturer’s proprietary raw file (say, a .CR2 from Canon or an .NEF from Nikon) or a DNG file. This section teaches you how to do that.

Adjust the photo in Lightroom

When you’re working with your own photos, begin by adjusting the photo’s tone and color, which you learned about in the Lesson 2 section “Mastering the adjustment workflow: The big picture.”

The basic adjustments have been completed for you on this exercise file; however, the photo has a perspective problem that you can easily fix using Lightroom’s Upright adjustment. Here’s how to do that:

  1. In Lightroom’s Library module, select the Lesson 4 folder in the Folders panel. In Grid view or the Filmstrip, select the first exercise file (a photo of Trevi Fountain, in Rome), which is named LPCIB lesson 4-01.dng.

  2. Press D on your keyboard to open the Develop module, or click Develop at the top of the workspace.

    Notice that the fountain appears to be leaning backward in the photo.

  3. In the Develop module, open the Lens Corrections panel and click Profile. Turn on Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberration if they aren’t turned on already.

    This gives Lightroom more information about your camera and lens.

  4. In the Transform panel, turn off Constrain Crop at the bottom of the panel, and then click the Auto button near the top of the panel.

    Photo credit: Lesa Snider, photolesa.com

    In this case, Auto did a great job of fixing the fountain’s perspective. However, you may need to experiment with the other buttons on your own photos to see which one works best. Here’s what they do:

    • Auto gives you a balanced level, aspect ratio, and perspective correction. This option often produces the most realistic result.

    • Level performs the correction based predominantly on the horizontal lines in the photo.

    • Vertical performs the correction based predominantly on the vertical lines in the photo.

    • Full performs a combination of all of the above. Although this option may produce the most accurate correction, the result may look unnatural.


      Click to view larger image

      You can also use the Transform panel sliders to fine-tune the perspective correction.

The photo’s perspective is fixed, but now there are white areas in the two lower corners (they’re really empty, but since Lightroom doesn’t support transparency, they appear white). Happily, you can easily fill in those areas in Photoshop, as the next section explains, which keeps you from having to crop them out.

Send the photo to Photoshop

In this section, you’ll learn how to send the photo to Photoshop to fill in the empty corners of the Trevi Fountain exercise file. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Photo > Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop CC (or whatever version you’re using). Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+E/Command+E.

    Photoshop opens (it also launches if it isn’t already running), and Lightroom passes the raw file to Photoshop.

    Behind the scenes, the Camera Raw plug-in renders the raw file so you can see and edit it in Photoshop. Any adjustments you made in Lightroom are made permanent in the image that opens in Photoshop. (Of course, your adjustments are flexible in the original file back in Lightroom.)

  2. In Photoshop, duplicate the image layer by pressing Ctrl+J/Command+J. Rename the layer by double-clicking its name and then entering corner fill.

    Duplicating the layer protects your original image in Photoshop. Renaming the duplicate layer helps you remember what you did on that layer should you need to reopen this PSD later on.

  3. Load the layer as a selection by Ctrl-clicking/Command-clicking the layer thumbnail of the duplicate layer.

    You should now see marching ants around the photo itself.

  4. Invert the selection by pressing Shift+Ctrl+I/Shift+Command+I or by choosing Select > Inverse.

    The marching ants now appear around the empty corners.

  5. Expand the selection by choosing Select > Modify > Expand. In the resulting dialog, enter 3, and click OK.

  6. Choose Edit > Fill, and in the resulting dialog, choose Content-Aware from the Contents menu and turn on Color Adaptation. Leave the Mode menu set to Normal and Opacity set to 100%. Ensure that Preserve Transparency is turned off. Click OK, and Photoshop fills the empty corners.

  7. If the fix isn’t perfect, you can retouch that area using the Clone Stamp tool. To do that, press Shift+Ctrl+N/Shift+Command+N to create a new layer. In the resulting dialog, enter clone right corner into the name field, and then click OK.

  8. Zoom in to the photo by pressing Ctrl++/Command++. Press and hold the Spacebar on your keyboard, and then drag to reposition the photo so you can see the bottom-right window.

  9. Activate the Clone Stamp tool in the tool panel by pressing S on your keyboard. In the options bar at the top of the Photoshop workspace, ensure that the Mode menu is set to Normal and that Opacity and Flow are set to 100%. Turn on Aligned, and from the Sample menu, choose All Layers.

  10. Tell Photoshop which pixels to copy for the Clone Stamp tool by Alt-clicking/Option-clicking the top of the triangle on the window to the left of the one that needs fixing (your cursor turns into a tiny target).

    This is known as setting a sample point for the Clone Stamp tool.

  11. Release the modifier key, mouse over to the top of the triangle of the window that needs fixing, and brush across the window all the way down to the bottom of it.

    As you brush across the window, a crosshair shows the area that Photoshop is copying pixels from—the window on the left. In some cases, you may need to adjust brush size and set new sample points as you go by Alt-clicking/Option-clicking another area and dragging.

    Now that the lower-right corner is fixed, you’re ready to send the photo back to Lightroom, which is what the next section is all about.

Send the photo back to Lightroom

When you’re finished editing in Photoshop, all you have to do is save and close the photo. As long as Lightroom is open and running when you do this, the PSD appears in your Lightroom catalog next to the original photo.

Give this a spin by following these steps:

  1. In Photoshop, choose File > Save (or press Ctrl+S/Command+S) to save the file. Close the Photoshop document by choosing File > Close or by pressing Ctrl+W/Command+W.

    Technically, you can use the File > Save As command to rename the file, but it’s important that you don’t change the file’s location. If you do, Lightroom won’t be able to find it.

  2. In Lightroom, press G to return to the Library module’s Grid view, and the PSD appears next to the original raw file.

    Notice the file formats at the upper right of each thumbnail: One is a PSD, and the other is a DNG.

    The raw file displays the adjustments you made to it in Lightroom before you sent it to Photoshop. The Photoshop file reflects your Lightroom adjustments as well as the filling and cloning you did in Photoshop. As mentioned earlier, your Lightroom edits are permanent in the PSD file. That said, you can reopen the PSD file and continue editing it if you need to, which you’ll do later in this lesson.

  3. Leave the photo open because you’ll use it in the next exercise.

Reopen the PSD for more editing in Photoshop

If you determine that you have more editing to do in the PSD that came back to Lightroom, you can easily reopen it. For example, you may decide to do a bit more cloning in the lower-right corner. Follow these steps to do that:

  1. Select the PSD in Lightroom’s Library module, and press Ctrl+E/Command+E.

  2. In the dialog that opens, choose Edit Original, and click Edit to open the layered PSD in Photoshop.

    Choosing any other option in this scenario will not open the layered PSD. Instead, you’ll open a flattened copy of the PSD. (You’ll use the other options later in this lesson.)

  3. When the layered PSD opens in Photoshop, add a new layer, and use the Clone Stamp tool as described earlier to clone the small, dark window at lower right beneath the window you fixed earlier.

  4. Save the PSD by pressing Ctrl+S/Command+S. Close the document by pressing Ctrl+W/Command+W.

The updated PSD returns to Lightroom with your changes intact. Now you’re ready to add final adjustments to the PSD in Lightroom.

Add final adjustments to the PSD in Lightroom

Once you’ve taken a raw file from Lightroom to Photoshop and back again, you may be finished editing; however, you may have a thing or two left to do to the file. In that case, you can use Lightroom to edit the PSD.

A perfect example of the kind of editing you may do to a PSD is to add finishing touches, such as an edge vignette, or one of the creative color effects you learned in the Lesson 3 section “Adding creative color effects.”

Generally speaking, try to avoid redoing any of the original adjustments you made in Lightroom’s Basic panel because that can complicate your workflow. If, for whatever reason, you need to reopen the PSD, it won’t include those additional Lightroom adjustments (this is due to the special flattened layer Photoshop includes in the file, which you learned about in the section “Configuring Photoshop’s Maximize Compatibility preference”). And if you open a copy of the PSD that includes the Lightroom adjustments, you lose the layers you originally made in Photoshop.

When you’re certain you’re finished editing the file in Photoshop, add an edge vignette to the Trevi Fountain PSD by following these steps:

  1. In Lightroom, select the PSD of the Trevi Fountain. If necessary, press D to open the Develop module—you may already be in the Develop module—and then open the Effects panel.

  2. In the Post-Crop Vignetting section of the panel, set the Style menu to Color Priority, and then drag the amount slider leftward to around –50.

Saving the edge vignette until after you finish editing the photo in Photoshop is smart in this case because you had a lot of retouching to do around the edges of the photo, which is exactly where a post-crop vignette made with Lightroom’s Effects panel lands.

In the next section, you’ll learn how to send a JPEG from Lightroom to Photoshop.

4. Sending a JPEG or TIFF from Lightroom to Photoshop | Next Section Previous Section

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