Lightroom: Help me make my workflow not result in huge files

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  • Updated 7 years ago
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Here's my workflow:

1. I look over the photos I have in Lightroom 3. I select one that is the best and do some touchups in Lightroom. It's a DNG file and about 20 MB.

2. I select Edit in | Edit in Adobe Photoshop CS5.

3. I make some spot edits to the file.

4. I am done, and now wish to save the file. I am given two options: a TIFF, and Adobe RAW. Both files, when saved, are nearly 100 MB. That's too big to upload, way too big to email.

I do see the file in Lightroom when saved as either a TIFF or an Adobe RAW

Question: Can I somehow import this back into Lightroom in it's DNG file format, which offers non-lossy compression at a wonderfully small 20 MB file size? That would be awesome!

Here's a scaled-down version of one of the ultra-high-rez images I'm editing:

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Tim Wayne

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Posted 7 years ago

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Steve Sprengel, Champion

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RAW files including those converted to regular DNGs are 12- or 14-bits per color and one-color-per-pixel. A TIFF has 3-colors-per-pixel and you are likely working with 16-bits per color per pixel. You cannot change a 3-colors-per-pixel image back to 1-color-per-pixel image in Photoshop. So no going back down to the small size you started with.

Presumably the spotting you're doing in Photoshop can't just be done in LR with the spotting brush while avoiding the trip to PS, entirely, right?

If Photoshop can't be avoided, then your choices are down-converting to 8-bits and saving as an 8-bit TIF or high-quality JPG before exiting Photoshop, which is reasonable if you're not going to be doing more adjustments, because the quality will deteriorate slightly each time you save as a JPG, and an 8-bit TIF is more susceptible to banding than a 16-bit TIF, or the other choice is applying some (more) compression to the TIF and it possibly becoming invisible to LR.

The choice to go to an 8-bit format vs a 16-bit format probably has to do with how final the image edits are and how large the image will be reproduced meaning how perfect it needs to look. I'd guess that a highest-quality JPG will be almost indistinguishable from a TIF as long as you're completely finished making adjustments to it.
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Tim Wayne

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Photoshop cannot be avoided. On the above photo, I used Photoshop for content aware fill, masks, layers, select color, feather selection, save selection, channels, paths (pen tool) and one of the lasso tools. Touch-ups, but complicated ones that I don't think can be done in Lightroom.

In order for this to work the way I want, I would have to make Photoshop save the originally 1color-per-pixel but now 3-color-per-pixel image back down to 1-color-per-pixel for Lightroom. And since Photoshop will not do this, it is impossible?

I'm not (so much) worried about the file size (though than 10 photos taking up a GB of space is somewhat distressing); I'm more worried about the fact that I can no longer email this (original) image to colleagues for further processing. And what about uploading Photoshop Raw to Flickr? I have a good history of making my RAW files available on Flickr. Do I have to abandon that?

What is the difference between Photoshop RAW and the RAW file from the camera? the one-color-per-pixel thing?

Thanks.
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Chris Cox

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Yes, saving back to DNG is impossible. The Camera RAW formats are not really full color images, but dumps of the camera image sensor.

Also, Photoshop RAW has nothing to do with Camera RAW. Photoshop RAW is uncompressed bytes from the image, meant for interchange with applications that don't understand typical image formats (like some scientific software).

It also sounds like you saved your TIFF files uncompressed. You should save TIFF files with LZW or FLATE/ZIP compression.

Since Lightroom doesn't create a full image and only adds metadata, it can reduce the storage size if your edits are simple enough to accomplish in Lightroom. But it sounds like you needed more complex edits than what Lightroom can offer.

Yes, high resolution images do take up space - more so if you add layers, 16 bit/channel, etc. But you can always flatten the image, downsample the size, and convert to 8 bit when saving a JPEG for Flickr or other photo sharing sites.
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TK

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Tim, you might want to vote for this feature request for better cloning/healing/patching support in Lightroom.

I hope you can minimise your problem, but in any event if you were able to stay within Lightroom for the edits you need to do, that would be optimal, wouldn't it?
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Mark Sirota

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I agree with Lee Jay. Part of Lightroom's magic is that it is unencumbered by generations of (comparatively poor) UI design.
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Tim Wayne

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I'm not advocating for that. I'm advocating for a solution to my workflow problem.

Did you have a suggestion?
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john beardsworth

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A bigger hard drive. If you need layers, masks and channels, Photoshop is the tool for you, and bigger file sizes are a hit you'll just have to take on the chin. If the key workflow problem is sending these big files, DropBox, YouSendIt etc.
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Tim Wayne

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Funny you should say that, John. I ordered a 3TB on Amazon a couple hours ago!
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john beardsworth

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Next you've got to splash out on a faster connection for uploading.... It never ends!
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Tim Wayne

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Another one from my set on Monday.

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iMatt

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Hi Tim-
You may want to investigate getting some server space, and that way you can send links to zip files you post online. You can do this already if you have a website. Most web hosts give you 5 GB of space, or you can look into We Transfer
or Yousendit.