Join Bryan O'Neil Hughes for an in-depth discussion in this video Smart Objects, part of Lightroom and Photoshop: Working with Raw-Format Photos.
- One of the limitations of working with a raw file in Photoshop is that when I open the raw file, and I make whatever sort of change I might want, when I open that into Photoshop, I'm translating it into pixels. It's no longer a raw file. So maybe I'm cropping this image. I'm doing whatever I'm doing in Photoshop. And I decide, you know what, I really wish that was a black and white image. I have a lot of different ways to convert it to black and white here. But none of them will apply to the original raw file.
I can't go back to that place. There are also things in the Camera Raw plugin that I can't really do anywhere else, additive vignetting, really great noise reduction, those are the things I want to go back to Camera Raw to do. So let me close this file, and let's start over. And I'll show you a really great trick. So we're gonna come in here to our dng file. And dngs are great because if I spit this dng out from Lightroom, it reflects whatever state it was in when it left Lightroom. Had I made some changes to it the last time I was in Camera Raw, then those changes will be reflected here as well.
The dng file is always live and it's always changing. But what I want to do is get back into Camera Raw after I've gone to Photoshop. And in order to do that, I need to come down to this sort of long ribbon down here that has all of this information. It's got my color profile, my bit depth, my physical size. What you might not realize, this is also a link, I'm gonna click on that, to this workflow options dialogue. Lots of controls in here. There's only two I want you to worry about. Make sure your Bit depth is set to 16 Bit. You're using a DSLR more likely than not.
And you're choosing to work with raw files, which means you value fidelity. Make sure you have all of the information. Now also click on this one, Open in Photoshop as Smart Objects. And from now on, that's what it's going to do. Now, you might notice when I click OK, Open Image changed to Open Object. So let's go ahead and open that. And we're gonna notice there's a difference in Photoshop. The Layer thumbnail shows that this is a Smart Object. And what that means is when I go about my business, let's just say I crop this and I say, oh, you know what, I wish I would have made that black and white, now I can just double-click on the thumbnail, and it's gonna pop me back into Camera Raw.
I still have that same flexibility. So now I can come in here. I can say Convert to Grayscale, which is the same thing as black and white, click OK. It's gonna pass those instructions back to Photoshop and make that image black and white. So I've got this nice non-destructive workflow where I can bounce in and out of Camera Raw. Now, at a certain point maybe I'm gonna paint or retouch, I will have to Rasterize that Layer because I'll be interacting with the pixels. But this is a way of just delaying that conversion that much more. It gives you a lot more flexibility, and it's just a great workflow in general.
First, take a look at converting raw-format photos to the DNG format in Lightroom and using its Develop module to improve their contrast, color, and tone. Then find out how to adapt your raw workflow when you're on the move—on a mobile device or simply migrating from an application like iPhoto or Aperture. Next, Bryan switches over to Photoshop and its powerful Camera Raw plugin to optimize raw-format images and video. Along the way, he draws important comparisons between Photoshop and Lightroom, ending with tips for round-tripping back to Lightroom and creating camera profiles to make sure you're getting the most rich and accurate results from both programs.