How to work nondestructively with raw photos in Adobe Photoshop


posted Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at 10:00 AM EST


For many photographers, Adobe Lightroom is a great way to edit their raw image files. It’s powerful, versatile and offers many organizational tools. However, Adobe Photoshop is also a proven way to open and process raw files alongside Adobe Camera Raw, which utilizes similar tools as you can find in Adobe Lightroom. An advantage of editing your raw images inside of Photoshop is that it’s a bit easier to create a nondestructive workflow, ensuring that you can go back to your original file at any time during the editing process. In the video below, Aaron Nace of Phlearn shows how to work with raw images in Photoshop and create an efficient and nondestructive workflow.

It’s not necessarily as simple as clicking on a raw file on your hard drive and opening it in Photoshop. You can do this, and it’ll open up Adobe Camera Raw inside of Photoshop when you do, but there are steps you can take to enhance your raw editing process. One of the most important aspects of a good workflow is that it is nondestructive. When opening a raw file in Photoshop, the Adobe Camera Raw dialog will open on your screen, presenting your converted raw file and many different editing tools. After making your desired adjustments to the raw file, you can then begin your editing work inside of Photoshop, but there’s an important step you should take first.

If you look at the bottom of the Adobe Camera Raw dialog, you can see a string of text, which will say something like ProPhoto RGB, 16-bit, 6,000 x 4,000 (24.0MP), 300 ppi. Clicking on this string of text brings up your Workflow Options, which is where you can choose your color space (ProPhoto RGB is the largest, so it’s a good choice for editing), bit depth (16 bits is the largest) and more. The most important option is at the very bottom, “Open in Photoshop as Smart Objects.” This box is unchecked by default. We want it checked because it allows you to load your edited raw file as a Smart Object, which means you can make adjustments to your image at any time. To learn more about why this is so important, watch the full video below. For additional videos from Phlearn, head to their YouTube channel.

(Via Phlearn