Lightroom: Please let us make "destructive" changes to our images

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  • Updated 10 months ago
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I work on a library of 7K+ images across 220 directories/folders. When I make changes to an image I want the option to write those to the original file, not just to the catalog/database. There are many reasons for this need but for some reason Lightroom seems to be uniquely defiant and righteous on this topic. Please don't be condescending and tell me to use the Export option because it's just to cumbersome, especially when working on large numbers of files. I just want Ctrl-S to write all changes to the file I'm working on, not a copy.
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steve martin

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Posted 11 months ago

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Carlos Cardona

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So the rest of us should change the way we work because one person wants to? I find this request insultingly selfish. Adobe, don’t.
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steve martin

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My thought is to make it an option, not a requirement. So you wouldn't have to make any changes to the way you work if you don't want to... :) Maybe not using Ctrl-S then...
(Edited)
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Zigi Putnins

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Just because ctrl-s MIGHT be enabled does not mean you have to use it :)
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Huw Morgan

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7K images is a very small catalog. Perhaps Photoshop would be a better option for you. It fully supports destructive operations. Non destructive editing is part of Lightroom's dna.
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steve martin

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Does Photoshop have a catalog? I tried Photoshop Elements for years but even recent versions of that program are horribly slow with a very much smaller catalog. If I remember right, even Elements let you save changes to the original images.
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Anthony Blackett

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I assume your image library consists of jpeg files, not raw files. There is no way you can save changes to a raw file. Use a destructive editor for your files if that is what your workflow requires. Obviously, Lightroom isn't the right editor for you. It is a non-destructive editor that works best for raw files and it should stay that way.
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steve martin

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I'm not seeing the downside...yet. Is there one? You could keep things safe and status quo with new defaults. My guess is Adobe made this choice to increase sales of Photoshop, and learning Photoshop is something I've had to do occasionally. And having both programs running at once is very sluggish.

It's hard enough learning Lightroom, let alone adding in other software just to make permanent changes to the original. And you really have to be careful in LR or very weird things can happen that may go unnoticed. Which of course means you have to know LR well...it's got to be one of your main interests in life, the kind that attracts people to a monthly payment, or reading tons of posts.

I'm wondering if there's a better way to make "destructive edits" in Lightroom 6 than my list? I would love to hear your thoughts:

 1. export, with careful attention to naming and location, and metadata
 2. delete original
 3. locate export
 4. move export
 5. synchronize
 6. check metadata
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Michel DELFELD

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As far as I know, The principe of Adobe LR is very simple: don't destroy the originals! And I don't think that Adobe change something about that.

As far as I have correctly read your comments, I cannot say what's your production flow. Do you take pictures in RAW or in JPEG.?

What I understand is that you would like to have the corrected pictures written on HDD in place of the original one's. This won't work with LR.

If you are working with RAW files there are other ways to realise what you intend to do.
You could use DxO Lab following what I say.
Even if DwO Lab don't destroy the RAW files, It's possible to reach your dream but not completely. With DxO Lab, you can correct your pictures and write them in a specific folder. After you may destroy your originals and the attached sidecars. The final images would be elsewhere. You will be then able to make a LR catalog just on these final files. 
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Steve Crane

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Reads original poster's name and thinks, "Ah, this must be a joke". :-)

Seriously though, why, when there are many apps that work the way you want, would you specifically choose one that doesn't and expect it to be changed to suit your very different requirements?
(Edited)
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steve martin

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Because it has very good cataloging / organizing features and there are more than enough picture editing features built-in for my needs. The reviews I trust like LR.
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Yves Crausaz

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An original Raw that never changes, otherwise how to resume in another software? This application is really wacky and 7K image, it's not much, we're dealing here with an amateur, for whom Lightroom is not done.
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Oliver

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So the status of a pro relies on the numbers of files he has? What kind of an arrogant posting this is :-(

Maybe his request is not the smartest one in regard of the basic behaviour of LR, but at least some respect should be shown here in this forum.
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Zigi Putnins

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There may be many apps that support destructive edits, but not all have the features/functions that LR has...so to me that argument does not hold water..
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Steve, it's just not the tool for the job. It wasn't a choice to increase Photoshop sales. Lightroom and the Camera Raw engine behind it were designed for raw editing, and raw data is just that - raw. You can't apply the changes to original files. All raw processors work this way, so Lightroom isn't being defiant or different in this. It just happens they opened it up to editing a couple of other file types too. 

The feature request will remain open, but to set expectations, it's highly unlikely they'll change the entire foundation on which Lightroom built.
(Edited)
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Rikk Flohr, Champion

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Downside? - millions will lose data.  The number of screaming people who've accidentally overwritten their unrecoverable data will flood the support areas.

Even it were only an option (a preference) I would not only vote against but lobby with every fiber of my being to prevent this. 
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Michel DELFELD

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I do follow you! It's an evidence. Suggestion made by Steve is against what any photographer like the most
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steve martin

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I'm using JPEG so overwriting should be simple, and optional, retaining all metadata. There wouldn't be any danger unless you make a mistake, and human error is always the greatest danger.

How specifically would this change "the foundation"?? And what evidence supports the claim that Adobe didn't do this to increase sales of Photoshop? I bet their developer could knock this out in a few hours. Cataloging and editing is the job and that's what LR does. I would just like to be able to overwrite more simply.
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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What evidence? The entire history of Lightroom, and the entire history of Photoshop's own Camera Raw plug-in that preceded LR, and which it's based on. You ask any of the people who were there at the start... oh hang on, you just did.
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Michel DELFELD

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All that conversation for 7K pictures! I wonder which corrections you are making on such light pic's?
My estimation is that LR does what it has been conceived and written for what it does today. Flexibility is there in LR, one can adapt the way of use based on it's own specific needs. Yes, as every application, LR is not 100% perfect. For sure, depending on users styles, there are several aspects to be improved.
But, I find that your suggestion will open to a messy situation within catalogs. Best is to keep it as it has been conceived from the beginning.

Any way, there is a simple way to solve your situation. You describe it.
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steve martin

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I have 40+ years of family & friends & places photos to organize and edit. I'm not a pro, as you can see by my low number of posts. But I have used Lightroom for a few years now. And I am a technical director and software developer with a degree in computer science and I live in the change control process.

I'm using JPEG, not RAW. I don't shoot in Raw for the same reason I don't run Lightroom and Photoshop at the same time--too slow, too complicated, for too little payoff (because I'm not a pro). The only way I'm ever going to make it big in photography is if something very special is happening and nobody else is there. The main reason I use Lightroom is for cataloging, but also for edits. I will continue to use the clunky export process in LR, rather than buy/learn another software package. I already spend too much time on the computer.

Regardless, I still haven't seen a credible downside presented that makes sense. I'm sure there are a thousand features you don't use. What's the problem with one more? Nobody will "lose" data that unless they explicitly chose to overwrite. And this certainly would not be any kind of software rewrite. It would simply be a new method that ties together functionality that already exists, and burying it somewhere that it won't accidentally be invoked. I'm guessing a day or two of developer time.

And yes, it wouldn't work for Raw files...
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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You answered your own question. Lightroom is designed with raw files in mind. And burning edits into a jpeg means re-saving the jpeg, which causes extra degradation because of the lossy compression.
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Phil Burton

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Steve,

Please don't confuse your specialized requirements with those of the user base as a whole.  Listen to what people are telling you.  Go with Photoshop.
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Zigi Putnins

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Steve,
I agree with you...I also don't see a credible downside on a workflow perspective. Its similar to compressing layers in ps. and like any tool, if used incorrectly will cause more harm than good. So don't use the tool or learn to use it the right way.

John's comment about cumulative degradation in you edit and resave the same jpeg. but if you are only doing one edit and done, then that should not be a problem.
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Selondon

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Steve, what is the final destination for these files? What happens once you export them ? I’m only asking as maybe moving over to the Cloud Based Lightroom CC Desktop would help and the recipient can either download a JPG from a shared link or from LrCC Web?

I may be off the mark here though but it would save you exporting?
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Anthony Blackett

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The beauty of non-destructive editing is that you are not locked into 'one edit and you're done'. You can come back to an image later, add to it or rework it completely. Over the years, Lightroom has had, and will continue to have, new tools added to it. The ability to go back to an original image and improve it with new tools or even newly learned techniques is a huge advantage. Destroying your original files, even if jpeg, is not a good idea for Lightroom.

You don't have to be a pro to shoot raw, you just need to realise the huge advantage that can be gained from working with all the captured information, rather than a compressed file that has had a large proportion of image data discarded by the camera's software. Editing raw is no different to editing jpeg in Lightroom, but the results can be enormously different.

A destructive workflow make no sense to me. Even if I used a destructive workflow, I would make sure my original files were never touched (backed up, archived).
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steve martin

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Thanks for your thoughts. Maybe Adobe could save the original in the catalog somewhere, like they do the Previews, when one chose to overwrite. Google Picasa almost had this right but the .Picasaoriginals folder they created was in a subfolder directly under the image that was changed, causing clutter. I did roll back a few times, but mostly just deleted the .Picasaoriginals folders after some period of time.
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Michel DELFELD

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To be more clear about these different things.

RAW files format are the property of every camera producers. And they keep their file map secret. It go so far that within the same product range (like 1D MkIV and 5D Mk III) RAW files structure can be different. Every producer has it's own RAW format type. In other words, a Nikon camera can't read or create a RAW based on Canon RAW format. 

A RAW is NOT a RASTER or Vector format, it's just a binary format that need to be interpreted by a software like the one you have on your camera. This soft create a JPEG. due to it's simplification, it's almost difficult to make good corrections on it while wit a RAW almost every elements are adaptable. RAW format is to be considered as the image source.
  
As They are badly documented, every software maker need to make reverse engineering to be able to read the different format. But they will never adapt it. They will create an other file style TIFF - JPEG, etc... 
To my knowledge, it doesn't exist a software producer having directly received the complete map of a RAW format from a camera supplier.

To add on this, old photographers like to keep their RAW just as they did for analog negative.

In EDP world, one say " In any situation type keep your original free off ANY changes" So said RAW is the basic reference for most of photographers. Most of them need to keep them un their hand.

Keeping RAW format files, is also some times an advantage depending on what job type the photographer does. 

Do not forget to think about new software version. Evolution....

Your considerations:
You cannot compare RAW and previews. Their purpose are radically different. RAW needs a Preview to be seen. Preview is created each time you act on the RAW while the RAW is kept free of any transformation way of doing preparing the resulting file differs from one soft to an other.

Comparing Picasa and LR is a non sense, they customer target is to my opinion different.

Everybody has the right to erase every thing on it's computer, as well as the RAW.  It's not a question of right it's a question about conception.

To finish on this point, if your last proposition should by hasard be applied, I will be very sad for the users of it. They will create a mess on their computer. Several users are already doing this mess. But without any protection (guide line) this will be a disaster. 
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David Converse

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You CAN'T save changes to RAW files (although the original camera vendor would have the RAW specs and could presumably do so if they wanted- but Adobe can't.) So your idea is impossible from a technical standpoint.
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Fred Swartz

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I don't understand the strong reactions to Steve Martin's reasonable proposal?   The current non-destructive editing should be the default of course.  Should it be easy to accidentally save destructively - absolutely not.  Should it replace RAW files, eg with jpegs - no need.  No one who currently uses non-destructive LR should be inconvenienced in the slightest.  As pointed out this is certainly a trivial programming challenge.  So why not offer it?  Or if this is such a sacrosanct photo editing feature, why not insist Photoshop not be allowed destructive editing?
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Fred Swartz

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Ha, ha.  I love it - LR immorally allowing destruction of RAW files.   But  I actually am interested in why there is no similar outrage about Photoshop's destructive editing.  Is it just that it's an old, legacy-hindered (immoral?) piece of software than can't be changed for practical reasons?   Or would the LR non-destructionists like Photoshop to be non-destructive too?

I don't know the future roadmap for LR - do they plan to add more and more editing to LR to eliminate the need for Photoshop?
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Zigi Putnins

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I would speculate that the future is to keep that den of sin photoshop as a desktop program due to local storage and compute requirements and move more of LR features into the cloud based (non-classic) version over the next year or so.
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john beardsworth

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Prattle on about deleting raw files if you wish, but do you actually understand that plenty of people do use Photoshop as non-destructively as possible? eg using adjustment layers rather than adjusting an image layer, or applying filters to smart object layers. It's just good practice. 
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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Photoshop does not destructively edit the raw file either. It creates an RGB copy and you could not even overwrite the raw file with that if you wanted to.
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Fred Swartz

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Yes, I use Photoshop adjustment layers, filters, etc often when I'm working on an image.  Non-destructive editing is great.  But I also like the option of saving a jpeg instead of the psd file.  I'm highly in favor of non-destructive editing, but I'd like the option to not use it in certain circumstances in LR.  Now I often go from LR directly to PS applying edits to a copy, do something like add a bit of text (a feature mysteriously missing from LR), save a jpeg, return to LR and synchronize folders to get it into LR.   This is only clumsily reversible even if saved as a psd file.   Sorry for a bit of a rant on the awkward interface between LR and PS.  Appreciate the constructive suggestion about using PS non-destructively.
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steve martin

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When saving JPEG I'd like to see a dialog that estimates the percentage of loss for each overwrite. Something like "Warning: overwriting this JPEG will result in a 20% loss of quality, reducing the file size from 3.1MB to 2.5". We all know that JPEG is lossy but having the amount quantified will help us understand the significance. Especially if we feel we need to save periodically to avoid losing work.
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Zigi Putnins

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you do get a "quality" level for savings. But a reduction in quality occurs even if the file size remains the same. this has to do with the quantization errors used in the jpeg compression.  You can get reduce quality with same file size.
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steve martin

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So I get back from an outing and put a new collection of images on my computer and go through and make various edits, working on multiple images at the same time. Is there an easy way to know which images were edited so that I can export them?
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Rikk Flohr, Champion

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Put the images in Library module's  Grid View. At the bottom of the grid should be a toolbar. If it isn't there press [ T ] to reveal it.  Set the Sort Order to Edit Count or Edit Time - whichever is appropriate.  That will group all your edited images into a bundle. 

You can also use a Smart Collection to find Develop>Has Adjustments. 
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Anthony Blackett

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Would be nice to have 'Has Adjustments' as a Filter option, but the Smart Collection method works just fine. The sorting order solution should suffice also.