August 17, 2008
Following on from the recent demos of what’s new in Lightroom 2, here is a tip on working with Lightroom and Photoshop, where I suggest how Lightroom can be used at the front end and back end of your image processing workflow, leaving Photoshop to do what it does best, for carrying out all the tricky retouching in the middle.
It is great that we have so many image adjustment tools in the Develop module. As you will recall, there are quite a few ways to produce interesting black and white conversions and different types of color processed looks. The question this raises is, when and where is the best time to apply such adjustments? Let’s say you want to convert a photo to grayscale, but you also wished to carry out a significant amount of retouching in Photoshop. Should you convert the photo to grayscale mode in Lightroom first and then choose edit it in Photoshop? That could work, but once you have converted a photo to grayscale in Lightroom and edited it in Photoshop, there is no opportunity to go back to the color original. In my view, it is best to always edit photos in Photoshop in what I consider to be an optimized image state and if you want to convert a photo to black and white or apply coloring effects, you can apply these adjustments to a master, Photoshop-edited image. Of course, the major problem with this approach is that you don’t get to see what the image will eventually look like while you are working in Photoshop. However, the following steps do suggest ways that you can make this transition between Lightroom and Photoshop more fluid.
1. We start here with a raw image and a Virtual Copy version of the photo in which I converted it to Grayscale and applied a split tone and vignette to create the Virtual Copy version you see here.
2. Now if I want to edit this photo in Photoshop, I have two options here. I could select the virtual copy version and choose Photo > Edit in Photoshop, But this method does limit your options. Suppose for example, the client decided later that they didn’t like the black and white look and wanted the color version instead? My preferred approach is to first create an optimized color of the raw photo and create a Photoshop Edit copy based on this setting. To do this I used the Command Option-E (Mac), Control Alt-E (PC) method (where Photoshop had also been selected as the external editing application).
3. But how can you work on an optimized image in Photoshop and also see how the photo looks with the black and white effect? I selected the Virtual Copy, “effect” version of the image and then the newly created Edit Copy image and choose Sync settings… This opened the Synchronize Settings dialog, where one can synchronize just those settings needed to create the black and white effect.
4. In the screen shot shown here I synchronized the Grayscale, Split Toning and Vignette adjustments from the Virtual copy image on the right with the newly created Photoshop edit version on the left.
When you follow this step, make sure that the Virtual Copy “effect setting” image is the one that is most selected (it will have a lighter gray cell border). This is important because you want to synchronize the effect settings from the “effect setting” image to the Photoshop-edited version.
5. I continued editing the image in Photoshop by Choosing Photo > Edit in Photoshop and used “Edit Original”. Each time I did this, it would open the original optimized image version and allow me to carry out the retouching work on a normal, full-color version of the photo.
6. Meanwhile, back in Lightroom, one can preview a combination of the Photoshop edited image and the Lightroom applied adjustment. But you have to remember to keep saving the image in Photoshop in order to see the most currently updated version of the photo appear in the Lightroom content area.
7. There are various ways you can toggle between the two programs. If you are on a Mac and using the latest Leopard operating system you could allocate separate desktop spaces for Photoshop and Lightroom and toggle between them. If you have the luxury of a dual monitor setup, you can display Photoshop on one screen and Lightroom on the other.
With a dual monitor setup, you may need to force the Lightroom screen view to update by clicking on a photo next to it in the Filmstrip and then click back on the photo again.
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 book
Now available for order at:
This brand new edition contains 624 pages and has been fully updated for all the new changes to the program since version 1.0.
List Price: $49.99 (US)