November 1, 2007
Last month I wrote a tutorial feature on how to use Bridge as a front end to Lightroom. Staying on that theme, there are a few more drag and drop tips you might like to be aware of such as drag and drop opening. This is not a standard Lightroom feature, it is more of a unofficial workaround and as such, not everything will work as expected. For example, you can’t drag and drop virtual copy photos from Lightroom and you need to pay special attention to the warning about opening images that have unsaved metadata via a drag and drop.
Drag and drop opening
The drag and drop to the Photoshop application icon method of opening photos will work with any photo in a Lightroom catalog: raw, TIFF or JPEG, provided that the metadata status has been updated and saved to the file’s XMP space. The drag and drop method is really a kind of a cheat that allows you to bypass the Photo menu ➯ Edit in Photoshop step in Lightroom. It offers you a way to open an image in Photoshop without creating an Edit copy (so you can save out the file from Photoshop without adding a derivative image to the catalog). It can also allow you to bypass the File ➯ Export dialog. And instead of configuring an Export user preset with a Photoshop droplet placed in the Export Actions folder, you can batch process photos from Lightroom by simply dragging them to a droplet. But as I have said, you must, must remember to save the metadata to the file before you drag and drop. If you don’t do this, the file will open using the default or previously saved metadata settings. For example, if you have a JPEG photo in your catalog, make some Develop module adjustments and drag and drop to the Photoshop icon, the photo will open directly in Photoshop as a JPEG, without applying the adjustments added in Lightroom. However, if you use Photo menu ➯ Save Metadata to File (Command–S [Mac], Control–S [PC]) before dragging and dropping, the JPEG photo will open up in Photoshop via the Camera Raw dialog showing the exact same settings that were applied in the Lightroom Develop module.
Here is how a basic drag and drop open works:
1. Drag and drop opening can be real simple to set up. Create an alias/shortcut of the Photoshop application icon and drag a photo from the library on top of the program icon.
2. Providing you remembered in Lightroom to save the metadata settings to the file before you dragged, the photo will initially open up via the Camera Raw dialog, where if you like, you can alter the settings.
3. Click Open Image in the Camera Raw dialog and this will open the selected photo up in Photoshop. Remember, the opened image will no longer be associated with the Lightroom catalog. You can edit it and save this out as a new derivative of the Lightroom master photo.
Note: In this example I have shown how to use the drag and drop method to open a single image. But you can also select multiple photos and drag these to the Photoshop icon. This will open the Camera Raw dialog shown in step 2 and allow you to decide whether to proceed to open all or just some of the selected photos.
Drag and drop opening as a Smart Object
Here is another variation on the drag and drop method, where thanks to Ben Willmore I was reminded that there is a really neat way to open a Lightroom master photo as a Smart Object.
1. Now this will work with any photo: raw, TIFF or JPEG, but I see this as being more applicable to raw file editing. As before, I began by dragging a photo from the Library module to a Photoshop program alias.
2. As before, this will open the photo up via the Camera Raw dialog, where in this instance I did make some further tone edit adjustments to improve the contrast and lightness of the rock. But after doing this I held down the Shift key which altered the Open Image button so that it now said Open Object and clicked.
3. The photo opened up in Photoshop as a Smart Object. You can tell, because there is a Smart Object icon () in the bottom left corner of the image layer thumbnail. Next, I went to the Layer menu and chose Smart Objects ➯ New Smart Object via Copy.
4. This created a copy of the Smart Object and when I double-clicked the copy Smart Object layer, was able to create a new Camera Raw tone setting for the sky portion of the image. In the screen shot here you can see that I added a gradient layer mask to the copy layer to combine the two different Camera Raw renderings.
That’s it for part 1. In the second part we shall look at using drag and drop to a Photoshop droplet and how to link from Lightroom back to Bridge.
Martin Evening has worked on the development of Adobe Photoshop as an alpha tester from the program’s earliest beginnings. The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book describes all of Lightroom’s features in detail, with photographers in mind. Photographers who routinely work with raw (and even jpg & tiff) images will find Lightroom–and The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book–an indispensable tool in their digital darkroom.
Lightroom-news has a free PDF download of Chapter 1. (click here to download-4.6MB PDF).
Free Lightroom 1.1 PDF update
You can also download a free PDF update for the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom book. Go this link for the full instructions on how to access the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book 1.1 update.