What is best practice for jumping back and forth into lightroom/photoshop and making sure you have a saved PSD file

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I'm in the process of transitioning from Bridge to Lightroom.  In terms of background, I'm more of a fine art/fashion photographer (so typically I don't apply the same settings to many images)- I edit about 10 images per shoot (150 images).

My (abridged) workflow in bridge was to use bridge to do a full screen view/rotate/rate images, edit rated images in PS, and then output to web in bridge edited galleries. 

I use a simple folder structure for organization (Year/Shoot name - with subfolders RAW/PSD) that way I could easily find edited images etc.

So I've just completed the import of my 150k photo collection into lightroom (300GB catalogue).

In terms of workflow, I largely follow the same workflow where I use lightroom to select and view images and do the heavy lifting editing in photoshop (and now have the benefit of a catalogued collection).  

There are some extra steps which are very annoying to someone transitioning and who does the majority of their editing in photoshop (e.g. to view photos full screen, I have to press L twice, then F vs just space in Bridge, and to edit have to right click, then select edit in photoshop vs simply double clicking) - A pain, but I suppose the benefit of the catalogue.

My questions: 1.  How do most people go back and forth with lightroom and photoshop.  Right now I mostly use Lightroom like I used bridge/RAW before, where I fix my light balance and exposure in lightroom, right click "edit in PS", make the majority of my edits in PS (e.g. liquify, filters like portraiture, healing), then I found that I sometimes even touch up the curves etc in lightroom after for the "final touch". 

2.  Should I be using "edit in PS or "edit as smart object in PS"

3.  I don't quite trust the catalogue in lightroom yet- How can I make sure that at the end of the process I have the hightest quality COMPLETE psd file with all the edits?  My main concerns are quality and backup.  Right now I use crashplan to backup my edited PSD files, but it's easy (and less risky) to backup 10 PSD files vs. a 300GB catalogue - and make sure that the backup is not corrupted as you're most likely using the app when the backup is running)

Thank you for your thoughts!



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Juan Julio

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Posted 2 months ago

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James Kochanowicz

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I also want to achieve the best possible from each picture and have a different method. I use Bridge to exam the photos after using Lightroom to load them onto my two external hard drives and save them using the DNG format. I then use Bridge to scan one of the two copies that I have made. After scanning them all, I pick out those that are worth the effort of using using PhotoShop to edit. Why all this extra effort? I am paranoid about a drive failing; I do not trust LightRoom and have read numerous instances of updates to the LightRoom causing the catalog to fail causing  people to lose.  Also, PhotoShop lends itself to developing a flow of starting with Raw window to make most changes and then use Photoshop layers to do the finishing touches. 

Develop you our catalog system, but develop a flow in Photoshop. 

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Juan Julio

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I have similar concerns about lightroom- how do you invoke photoshop?  From lightroom (so that the PSD file is automatically imported in lightroom?
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Joel Weisbrod

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see my comment below!
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john beardsworth

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"From lightroom (so that the PSD file is automatically imported in lightroom?"

Always save as TIF rather than PSD. The non-proprietary and more future-proofed TIF can do anything that PSD can do, apart from obscure things like using Duotone image mode, using for PS displacement maps, and transparency in InDesign.
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James Hess

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I'm not going to give you a lot of definitive answers. It is always a good idea to have a backup plan for your images because Lightroom doesn't back up your images. If you don't have a backup plan for your images you are on your own. I think that says it all. If you can't learn to trust the catalog then you might as well not try to use Lightroom because the catalog is the only file that Lightroom actually opens. The catalog is the file that stores all of the adjustments that you make in Lightroom. All adjustments made using Lightroom are in the catalog; they are NOT applied to the image. So if you don't want to learn to rely on that catalog and back it up on a regular basis then I question whether Lightroom is a good choice for you.
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Juan Julio

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Lightroom is a great way of indexing and easily finding my collection- that part is amazing.

I have three copies of my raw files/historic PSD files- On my NAS, on my daily backup NAS, and in the cloud.

My concern is more about lightroom getting corrupt and figuring out a workflow (exports?) where at least my photographs and edits are saved.

Do you have any recommendations for that?
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john beardsworth

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"My concern is more about lightroom getting corrupt and figuring out a workflow (exports?) where at least my photographs and edits are saved. "

So backup your catalogue daily or more frequently if you want, using backup software that is independent of Adobe, and practice restoring from backup.
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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"Right now I use crashplan to backup my edited PSD files, but it's easy (and less risky) to backup 10 PSD files vs. a 300GB catalogue."

You only need to backup the .lrcat file and not the entire LR Catalog folder contents. With 150K image files the catalog file should be a lot smaller than 300GB (~5GB). If you use LR's backup on exit facility it also ZIPs the file, which should be about 50% that size. You need to backup ALL your image files (raw, PSD, TIFF, JPEG) using a separate backup or file synchronization app preferably to an external drive dedicated for that purpose.


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Joel Weisbrod

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Here is what I do for my workflow. I do almost all editing of RAW images in LR. Once it looks good (white balance, sharpening, histogram spread, noise reduction if needed) I then edit in PS if necessary. I set up LR so when doing external editing it used PSD, 300dpi, ProPhotos Color, and for the renaming is use filename-E-### with a 3 digit sequence number. I edit in PS using a copy with LR adjustments. Edit in PS. Use SAVE (not save as) and PS creates this newly named PSD. Return to LR and the new image is sitting right next to the original RAW imagfe in the filmstrip.

This way, all my organizational work is in LR, my RAW editing is in LR (as opposed to ACR), and I use PS for what PS excels at. Easy!

Hope this helps to give some insight to how others do this.
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Juan Julio

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Thanks, that's basically what I've been doing except I kept the default DPI- What impact does that have?  Does it upscale the pics to 300 etc?  I want to keep as much of the resolution as possible.

I also got lazy on a few images when I was reviewing and tried making some final tweaks after the edit in photoshop- is there a way to "save those" to photoshop too?  For me that's when it starts getting muddy...
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James Hess

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Changing the DPI/PPI doesn't really have any impact on the quality of the image. The image has so many pixels (i.e. 4000 x 6000 pixels) and it doesn't matter what the PPI setting is. It has that many pixels regardless. Changing the PPI isn't going to produce any more or fewer pixels. It will still have that many pixels.
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Juan Julio

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Thanks I understand that the image size (pixel size is the same).

To make sure I understand this, with lower DPI (such as the default 240) I'd be loosing detail correct? 

When I open a raw file in Photoshop directly, it's set to 300 DPI (standard for print).

Is there anything else that I'm loosing when I go from Lightroom to Photoshop other than the additional RAW data of the file (i.e. I loose the ability to use the Adobe RAW editor).

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john beardsworth

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"Is there anything else that I'm loosing when I go from Lightroom to Photoshop other than the additional RAW data of the file (i.e. I loose the ability to use the Adobe RAW editor)."

If that is a concern, use Edit as Smart Object.

It makes cloning-type operations more difficult, but being forced to work in layers is not a bad thing, and there are benefits if you do decide to tweak the raw data.
(Edited)
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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"To make sure I understand this, with lower DPI (such as the default 240) I'd be loosing detail correct? "

The DPI setting is merely an EXIF tag that is written to the file. The original image data is never modified. You can set to whatever value you normally use for printing purposes. It can be over-ridden in the export and print job preferences.

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Tom Mickow

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"to view photos full screen, I have to press L twice, then F"

L cycles through dimming the panels, but isn't necessary/have anything to do with full screen mode.
Just press F to toggle full screen on/off.
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Juan Julio

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Ok, thanks for the clarification, I saw it on some youtube video! 

Is there a keyboard shortcut for zooming in and out when you're in full screen preview like in Bridge?

+ Shift -Command + Shift + = / Command + Shift + - don't work for me, only clicking (which lets you zoom in once) and space to get back

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Anthony Drumm

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'Z' I believe is the short cut. I usually just left click.
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Tom Mickow

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Have a look at Victoria Brampton's site for a nice free keyboard shortcut reference - https://www.lightroomqueen.com/keyboard-shortcuts/
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john beardsworth

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1.  How do most people go back and forth with lightroom and photoshop.  Right now I mostly use Lightroom like I used bridge/RAW before, where I fix my light balance and exposure in lightroom, right click "edit in PS", make the majority of my edits in PS (e.g. liquify, filters like portraiture, healing), then I found that I sometimes even touch up the curves etc in lightroom after for the "final touch".

My preference is that once the image is a TIF, I only make further edits in PS. One can make those final touches in LR, but I think my "rule" keeps it simpler with all adjustments in one place or the other.
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Juan Julio

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I'm using it the same way now.  Changed to TIF as output.

Once I finish a bunch of edits, I view them all full screen in lightroom, and as tempting as it is to make small retouches (split toning) in lightroom, I now go back into Photoshop as I want the final file TIF file to contain all the edits...  Shame that there isn't an option to save what you do post editing in lightroom into the TIF
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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"Shame that there isn't an option to save what you do post editing in lightroom into the TIF."

You can do this "non-destructively" by making two changes in the menu Edit> Catalog Settings> Metadata tab by checking 'Include Develop settings in metadata inside JPEG,' TIFF, PNG, and PSD files' and 'Automatically write changes into XMP.' This will also write XMP sidecar files next to raw files with their Develop settings.
If you only want Develop settings to be saved to non-raw files and/or specific raw files don't check 'Automatically write changes into XMP.' You can then use CTRL/CMD + S keys to "manually" save the Develop metadata to the files after you've applied LR edits. Do this in the Library module Grid View by selecting all of the files just edited and then hit CTRL/CMD + S keys. The "saved" Develop edits will be visible in both LR and Bridge. Just remember to do that after each editing session.....pretty simple!

Some points to keep in mind when using ‘Save Metadata to File:’  What isn’t saved to the file or XMP sidecar?

 Pick/RejectFlags, Collections, Virtual Copies, Stacking, Sort Order, Develop History,Publish Services

 AlsoBooks, Slideshows, and Web Galleries cannot be saved external to the catalogfile.

 NOTE:No metadata is saved in video files.

 You can add Pick andReject flags and Collections to the file's XMP metadata as keywords. Virtual copies can be exported toTIFF or JPEG files.
(Edited)
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Juan Julio

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Thanks, I think that's what I want...  If I open a PSD file that also has an XMP, will photoshop also process the XMP?

I didn't find that option where you indicated in Lightroom classic, but found it under catalogue.
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Yes, the settings I mentioned are in the 'Catalog Settings.' LR writes the XMP Develop module settings and Library module Keywords & Metadata directly into the file (no XMP sidecar file) for JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PSD, and DNG file types.

Photoshop knows nothing about the LR XMP Develop data. You can use 'Edit in PS' from inside LR and choose 'Edit a copy with Lightroom Adjustments.' However, this will create a new file with the LR edits applied to the image data, which may not be what you want to do. That's the trade-off when using a non-destructive editor like LR and ACR with a destructive pixel editor like PS.There is one workaround called Smart Objects, which is useful in situations where you absolutely need to see the combined LR and PS edits inside PS. The downside is that the file size increases significantly and you'll need to use ACR and not LR to change the Smart Object non-destructive edits. You'll still be able to see the PS and ACR edits applied to the Smart Object file inside LR, but any edits applied to the SmartObject file inside LR will NOT be visible inside PS. Is your head hurting yet!

https://digital-photography-school.com/using-lightroom-alongside-photoshop-smart-objects/
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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One workflow that hasn't been mentioned is using 'Edit in PS' with 'Edit Original.' This option is offered only with non-raw files (PSD, TIFF, JPEG). It allows you to apply additional PS edits to a file imported into LR as many times as you like. The file will open in PS without the non-destructive LR edits applied, but for most edits that's of little consequence. When you 'Save' the file in PS it will appear inside LR with both the new PS edits and LR edits applied. When working on film scan TIFF files I often go back numerous times to retouch dust spots and damaged areas. It's just another editing option that may be helpful in your workflow.
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Juan Julio

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Yeah, I'm now doing some basic fixing in lightroom, editing in PS, saving as tif, viewing full screen in lightroom when I complete a project, and when I want to make small retouches on stuff that I missed, it offers me to Edit Original.   Thanks!