Photoshop CC – Lightroom 5 Workflow

David Salahi Lightroom, Photoshop 1 Comment


Sadly, I have to report that there is no true round-trip workflow between Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5. This is the holy grail that I’ve been searching for since Lightroom 3 / Photoshop CS6 and I had high hopes that the addition of the Camera Raw Filter feature in the new Creative Cloud version of Photoshop would somehow enable a seamless workflow. Alas, it’s not so. The best you can achieve is to preserve your original Lightroom edits for further editing in Photoshop CC—which, in fact, is no better than what can be accomplished with Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4.

Here’s an outline of the best possible workflow between Photoshop and Lightroom and it’s the same in both the previous and current versions of the two pairs of programs:

  1. Starting in Lightroom make initial edits in the Develop module.
  2. Lightroom Develop Settings
    Initial settings made in Lightroom 5’s Develop module
  3. From Lightroom choose Edit as Smart Object in Photoshop.
  4. Open as Smart Object in Photoshop CC
    To edit a file in Photoshop starting from Lightroom choose the Edit in –> Open as Smart Object in Photoshop CC”
  5. Make further edits in Photoshop (e.g., add adjustment layers).
  6. If you want to make changes to your original Lightroom edits double-click the Smart Object in the Layers palette to open the Camera Raw dialog. The original edits are shown. Make further changes in the Camera Raw dialog. Any additional changes made in Camera Raw are equivalent to making those same changes in Lightroom (except that you can no longer do the changes in Lightroom after beginning to edit in Photoshop). Click OK to return to Photoshop for any further editing there.
  7. Photoshop CC Layer Palette
    To edit the settings that were originally made in the Lightroom Develop module double-click on the Smart Object in the Photoshop CC layer palette. This will open the Camera Raw dialog which contains the same settings as the Lightroom Develop module. You can then make further changes. Unfortunately, there is no indication in the Layer Palette that the file was originally edited in Lightroom or that you can further edit those changes here.
    Camera Raw Dialog
    Note that the Camera Raw dialog in Photoshop CC retains the original settings that were made in Lightroom’s Develop module. You can make additional changes within Photoshop starting from these original settings.
  8. If you are subsequently in Lightroom and want to make any further changes you need to edit the file in Photoshop again (Edit Original this time, not as Smart Object). You can continue from your previous edit state; all of those changes have been preserved non-destructively. But you cannot make any additional modifications in Lightroom or you will be starting all over again. If you do make subsequent changes in Lightroom and then wish to continue by editing in Photoshop you will be creating a new copy of the file.

Also, as I described in my previous post, while editing the Lightroom adjustments in the Camera Raw dialog in Photoshop you don’t get to see the effects of your changes in context until after you commit them by clicking the OK button on the ACR dialog. Until then what you see are only the effects of the Lightroom/ACR changes.

This workflow doesn’t even include the minor benefit I mentioned in my previous post of showing the thumbnail in the Layer palette with the notation “Camera Raw Filter.” This depiction is shown when applying the new Camera Raw Filter feature to a Smart Object within Photoshop. It would have been nice to show this or something similar (e.g., “Lightroom adjustments”) to remind you that you can make changes to the original Lightroom settings. Instead, all you see is the generic Smart Object icon with no clue that there is any connection to Lightroom.

This is all quite a disappointment. As I mentioned previously, you might think that a product named “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom” would have better integration between the two products, especially this far along in the evolution of the two.

Now that I’ve determined that my holy grail of a non-destructive round-trip workflow is unattainable I’ll probably abandon Lightroom as an integral part of my regular photo editing process. More often than not when I’m editing a photo I find myself jumping into Photoshop to do something that can’t be done or, at least, cannot easily be done in Lightroom. Since the process is cumbersome I see little advantage to starting in Lightroom. And, in fact, by starting in Photoshop/Bridge I get the “Camera Raw Smart Filter” description in the Layers palette which I don’t get when starting from Lightroom. But if you want to use this approach (opening from Bridge) don’t make any Camera Raw settings changes when first opening the file! If you do you won’t get that description in the thumbnail. You’ll just see the generic Smart Object thumbnail. To get the new, improved description just accept all the default settings when opening from Bridge into ACR. Then, once you have the file open in Photoshop CC, convert the layer to a Smart Object and apply the new Camera Raw Filter.

Question for Adobe: why doesn’t Bridge CC remember my Bridge CS6 favorites?? It doesn’t seem like so much to ask.

Finally, I’ll close with this dialog that I’ve been seeing a lot since installing Photoshop CC:

Adobe Photoshop CC Has Stopped Working

More info: Photofocus hangout: There and Back Again: Lightroom and Photoshop Round Trip Workflow, March 2014

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  1. Pingback: Lightroom – Photoshop Non-Destructive Workflow - The Photo Performance : The Photo Performance

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