I’ve just been through another of the masochistic experiences that I seem to impose on myself every time a new version of Lightroom is released. Ever since Lightroom 3 was released I’ve been trying to find a way to incorporate LR into my Photoshop workflow. And every time I’ve tried I’ve ended up throwing in the towel. I’ve previously written about my experiences on seven different occasions and the major problem I’ve encountered is that there has been no true round-trip Lightroom-to-Photoshop workflow.
With Lightroom 6 out this summer I decided to have yet another look. I was prepared to abandon my search for the Holy Grail (the seamless round-trip workflow). I was prepared to just use Lightroom for its prodigious cataloging and filtering capabilities as well as numerous other handy features. I figured I’d use Lightroom as a smarter, more capable version of Bridge. Alas, even this reduced expectation has proved to be unrealizable.
One problem that seems like it should have been solved long ago is to have Lightroom automatically detect when Photoshop creates a new file; e.g., through File -> Save As. But Lightroom doesn’t do that. I have to jump through a series of hoops every time I do a Save As from Photoshop to get the new file into my currently active Lightroom collection.
Worse, many of my PSD files can’t be previewed by Lightroom. Yes, I know there’s a file-handling preference in Photoshop to maximize compatibility. It’s set to Always but I still see “Preview unavailable for this file” for many of my files. And why should this option even be necessary? Bridge works. Why can’t Lightroom?
Speaking of Bridge, why do Lightroom and Bridge speak different languages when it comes to IPTC metadata? I have files in Photoshop with the following fields set: Creator, City, State, Country, E-Mail, Website, Copyright Status, and Copyright. Why doesn’t that info show up in Bridge?? Similarly LR ratings and other attributes are invisible to Bridge.
One of the frustrating things about Lightroom is how hard some basic file management tasks can be. How can I find the date/time that a file was last edited? Lightroom doesn’t seem to display that info. So, workaround: right-click, Show in Explorer, File Properties. Does it really need to be that hard?
Some of the improvements that would go a long way to improving the workflow are small. Like, the ability to rename a file when creating a copy from Lightroom.
Since LR doesn’t detect new photos saved by PS Save As I figured maybe I could work around the problem (sometimes, at least) by creating the new copy in LR. But, then I’m stuck with the default filename. Yes, I can then manually rename the file but that’s a separate step.
If I create an HDR image from Lightroom (Export -> HDR Efex Pro) the resulting image isn’t added to my active collection. More manual effort required.
I can’t drag and drop a file from Windows Explorer into a Lightroom collection.
I can’t import a single file by pasting its full path & filename into a dialog box anywhere. I have to navigate through my entire directory tree, find that file among all the other files in the folder and then select it to import. (See also Other Oddities and Annoyances, below.)
Other Oddities and Annoyances
Every time I want to import I have to navigate my entire disk/directory hierarchy. Why can’t Lightroom remember my last disk/directory?
Why no ability to export to PNG?
I’ve encountered multiple errors ranging from slowness and hanging to the inability to save my edits to a file. For example, I’ve had errors saying that one or more files could not be written while trying to create HDR images with HDR Efex Pro. The same raw files worked fine from Bridge to HDR Efex Pro.
Adobe’s Jeff Tranberry responded to my frustrated tweet about these File in Use error messages with the suggestion that some other program, maybe anti-virus software, was accessing the file and causing the problem. That seems reasonable, but the thing is — I only ever see this problem when using Photoshop with Lightroom. When working in Bridge and Photoshop that error never occurs. So, that leads me to conclude that the other program is … wait for it… Lightroom.
It’s possible that some of my problems could be due to my incomplete knowledge of the latest version of Lightroom. And, there may be workarounds or fixes for others. Still, I must reiterate the question that I’ve been asking for years. Why is a product named Adobe Photoshop Lightroom so difficult to use with Photoshop?