I don't understand why you feel you have to make a virtual copy at the beginning. Any adjustments that you make the master file are stored in the catalog. The master file is never changed by Lightroom. When you send the image from Lightroom to Photoshop, all of the adjustments made in Photoshop are saved to the TIF image that is returned to Lightroom. You have to remember that the virtual copy is just a metadata copy of the original file. There isn't an actual file that you can see outside of Lightroom. It only exists in the Lightroom catalog. I believe you are just confusing yourself and the Lightroom program by creating so many different virtual copies.
Virtual copies give me the flexibility to keep different edits from the same picture if I want, and they are essential part of my workflow. As far as I know, this is one of the main purposes of the virtual copies, so they're meant to be used that way. Although I know that any adjustment is stored in the catalog, keep just the master files won't work for me.
Anyway, unfortunately this doesn't answer my question =/
There are simple workarounds for these 2 issues, which I do by the way. But as I said, it's a workaround, not a fix. If I'm able to understand why this happens in first place, maybe I can adress those issues to keep them from happening again, since they bother me a lot.
Virtual means Make Believe. When you send a VC to PS that has LR adjustments what is really happening is LR is sending the REAL image to PS and adding the adjustments you made in the VC.
When you make a virtual copy of an image, you are making a second reference to the old image file: "image 1" and "copy 2" both pointing at "file 1.tif".
When you send a file to Photoshop from Lightroom, Lightroom sends some instructions to Photoshop like "Open file_a; save as file_b". Until Photoshop does the save, file_b may not exist on disk and it will not exist yet in the Lightroom catalog. After Photoshop saves the file to disk, Lightroom will copy the metadata from file_a to file_b. If you changed the metadata of file_a in Lightroom before Photoshop saves file_b, file_b gets the new info -- not the old info when file_a was first opened in Photoshop.
When you create a virtual copy, "image 1" and "copy 2" now both point to "file 1". If you edit file_1 outside of Lightroom, you are changing the base of both the original image and the base of all virtual copies pointing to the same file. This is what happens when you select "edit original" when going to Photoshop. If you only want to change the image for one of those copies, you need to pick "edit copy".
Ok, but what about the changes being propagated to the virtual copy when I decide to make further adjustments to the original file [in the case of files in TIFF format] after the virtual copy was created from it? It's like the virtual copy is still synced with the TIFF from which it was originated, and that is somewhat weird to me. The virtual copy should be treated like a individual "file", no matter what I do with the master file, otherwise it loses its purpose.
And we still have the mistery about the virtual copy edited in PS and back to LR with the attributes of the master file instead of the ones from the virtual copy that was sent to PS. That would be OK if I've sent the master file to PS, but not the virtual copy
Based on what you're saying - and I agree with you - it just confirms that the virtual copy should carry its attributes and adjustments to PS, in a way that the TIFF/PSD generated do the same when imported back to LR. It makes absolutely no sense the way it's actually happening.
If I have a master file with yellow color label, create a virtual copy and apply a blue color label, and then send the virtual copy to PS, when I finish my edits and save the file it is imported back to LR with the yellow label
If you changed the metadata of file_a in Lightroom before Photoshop saves file_b, file_b gets the new info -- not the old info when file_a was first opened in Photoshop.
Fine, but in this case, the file_a it's a virtual copy. If the virtual copy it's - let's say - a b&w copy, it's correctly sent to PS as a b&w image. This is the expected behavior. What just don't make sense to me it's why the file_b that is imported back to LR follow the attributes [star rating and color label, as far as I know] of the master file that shouldn't even be part of this equation even if we take into account that the virtual copy points to it. The virtual copy has another set of rating and color label and this is the image that was sent to LR, not the master. By the way, there's no metadata change in the LR catalog between exporting to PS and saving the file, what makes this behavior even more nonsense.
(...) you are changing the base of both the original image and the base of all virtual copies pointing to the same file. This is what happens when you select "edit original" when going to Photoshop.
I was just about to ask why then if you take a master file [in RAW], create a virtual copy and change the raw to b&w, the change won't be propagated to the virtual copy. Then the explanation shined on my head after read carefully what you've wrote and I finally understood what's behind this issue: since no adjustment can be made directly to the original raw - as someone had remembered above -, which isn't true for the TIFF file, when you choose "edit original" the LR behavior is different. So, whenever a virtual copy is created from a editable file, changes in the original will affect the virtual copy no matter what. Got it, thanks! =]
That closes the issue #2. But the issue #1 it's still unsolved =/