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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 photo from Lightroom to Photoshop as a Smart Object

Another way to send files of any format to Photoshop is to send them as Smart Objects, which you can think of as a protective wrapper. Anything you do to a Smart Object happens to the wrapper and not to the photo inside it. Smart Objects also let you do stuff like resize and run filters on the photo without harming the original.

When you send a raw file to Photoshop as a Smart Object, the Smart Object stays in raw format too. This enables you to fine-tune it using Photoshop’s Camera Raw plug-in if the photo needs a last-minute tweak while you’re in Photoshop. This trick also lets you access any snapshots (saved image states or versions) you’ve made in Lightroom via the Camera Raw plug-in’s Snapshots panel, which is handy for experimenting with different image versions while you’re in Photoshop.

In the following sections, you’ll learn how to do all of the above.

Accessing snapshots in Photoshop’s Camera Raw plug-in

As you learned in the section “Undoing adjustments and saving multiple versions” in Lesson 2, creating snapshots in Lightroom is a fabulous way to save different versions of a photo.

When you create snapshots on a raw file, you can access them via the Camera Raw plug-in by sending the raw file to Photoshop as a Smart Object. Here’s how to do that:

  1. In Lightroom, select the portrait of the young couple in the Filmstrip of the Develop module.

  2. In the Snapshots panel on the left, click the plus icon (+) to create a snapshot of the full-color photo. In the resulting dialog, enter the name full color and click Create.

  3. In the Presets panel, also on the left, click to expand Lightroom B&W Toned Presets, and click Creamtone.

  4. Repeat step 2 to create a new snapshot named creamtone.

  5. Choose Photo > Edit In > Open as Smart Object in Photoshop.

    The photo opens in Photoshop.

  6. In Photoshop, double-click the Smart Object’s layer thumbnail to open the photo in the Camera Raw plug-in.

    The Camera Raw window opens to the Basic panel, which includes the same set of sliders found in Lightroom’s Basic panel. If, for whatever reason, the photo needs a last-minute tone or color adjustment while you’re in Photoshop, you can perform that here.

    You can also access much of Lightroom’s Develop module panels by clicking the tiny tabs beneath the histogram.

    For the purpose of this exercise, let’s look at how to access the snapshots you made in Lightroom here in Camera Raw.

  7. Click the last tab beneath the histogram to open the Snapshots panel. In the resulting panel, click “full color” to access that snapshot. Click OK to close the Camera Raw plug-in.

  8. You’ll use the same version of this photo in the next exercise, so keep it open in Photoshop (in other words, don’t save it yet).

As you can see, it’s easy to access snapshots you make in Lightroom via the Camera Raw plug-in while you’re in Photoshop. That said, it bears repeating that this maneuver works only on raw files.

Running filters on a Smart Object in Photoshop

Another incredibly handy trick you can do when you send a photo from Lightroom to Photoshop as a Smart Object is to run filters nondestructively. Doing so prevents the filter from harming the image because the filter happens to the Smart Object wrapper instead of to the image.

When you use Smart Filters, as this is called, the filter appears in your Layers panel beneath the Smart Object layer. You also get a filter mask (think digital masking tape) that you can use to hide the filter’s effects from parts of the image.

In the following exercise, you’ll use Photoshop’s Dust & Scratches filter to soften the young man’s whiskers in this portrait.

  1. With the young couple portrait open in Photoshop as a Smart Object, choose Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches.

  2. In the dialog that opens, set Radius to around 9 and the Threshold slider to around 8. Click OK.

    The goal is to increase Radius enough to soften the young man’s whiskers and then adjust Threshold to control the point at which the filter kicks in. Keep Threshold as low as possible but high enough to preserve the skin texture. You’ll need to experiment with these settings on your own photos to find a balance that produces the results you want.

  3. To hide the filter from everywhere except the young man’s whiskers, click to activate a mask (it looks like a white thumbnail) beneath the Smart Object layer in your Layers panel. When you do, white corner brackets appear around the mask.

  4. Invert the mask from white to black by pressing Ctrl+I/Command+I. In the realm of masks, black conceals and white reveals. By filling the mask with black, the filter is hidden from the entire photo.

  5. Activate the Brush tool in the Tools panel by pressing B on your keyboard. In the Options panel at the top of the Photoshop workspace, click the brush preview, and choose a soft-edge brush (one that has fuzzy, soft edges). Click the brush preview icon again to close the panel.

  6. Press D on your keyboard to set the color chips at the bottom of the Tools panel to their default values of black and white, and then press X on your keyboard until white is on top.

  7. Zoom in to the photo by pressing Ctrl++/Command++. Mouse over to the photo, and brush across the stray whiskers on the young man’s face and neck to reveal the filter in those areas.

    Be careful not to brush across any areas that you don’t want blurred. In this case, that’s his moles and the edge of his chin where it meets his neck.

  8. When you’re finished, press Ctrl+S/Command+S to save the file. Close the document by pressing Ctrl+W/Command+W. As you can see in this before (left) and after (right) version, this filter made a big difference in the portrait.

Back in Lightroom, the PSD appears next to the original raw file. If you determine that you need to reopen the PSD for more editing, follow the instructions in the previous section.

Although there are other ways to send files to Photoshop from Lightroom, which you’ll learn about later in this book, these are the most common methods.

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