10 Replies Latest reply on Jul 21, 2010 5:15 PM by jdt7385

    Camera Raw edits are permanent in layered file, therefore "destructive"

    jdt7385

      I use scanned 35mm TIFF files and DNG digital files, converted from Nikon NEF files. I edit in Photoshop CS3. I use adjustment layers in Photoshop to retain the ability to revise as needed (the "nondestructive" route). To date I have used Camera Raw sparingly due to the fact that I cannot effectively change those edits once the file is converted to a layered PSD file. I say "effectively" because I guess it would be possible to reconstruct the file by editing the original DNG file containing the Camera Raw edits and add the layers added in Photoshop (some of the layers would probably not transfer effectively, e.g. spotting layers). However I do not think that that is a viable procedure.

       

      Much is made of the nondestructive nature of Camera Raw edits. However, this appears to me to be illusory since one cannot open the layered file in Camera Raw. Among other books I have read the Fraser/Schewe books on Camera Raw and sharpening. The advice contained in those books are, in part, directly contradictory, i.e. they advise (1) to make all possible edits in Camera Raw since the edits are "nondestructive" and essential to obtaining the best quality file; and (2) always doing sharpening, except for any capture sharpening done in Camera Raw, on a sharpening layer. Well, one cannot accomplish both of these objectives. Once the file is converted to the layered PSD file say goodbye to the opportunity to change the Camera Raw edits.

       

      So my questions are: 1. Have I missed something? Am I wrong about the inability to change the Camera Raw edits after the file is made into a layered PSD? If there is an effective way to do this, how do I do it? 2. What is your workflow for preserving the ability to undo your edits and how do you balance the workflow between Camera Raw and Photoshop? I find it a bit frustrating that the experts write these books, advocating the glory of nondestructive edits but fail to even comment on the fact that that ability disappears the moment a layer is added in Photoshop (an editing step they also insist is absolutely essential).

       

      I will appreciate any assistance you are able to offer.

        • 1. Re: Camera Raw edits are permanent in layered file, therefore "destructive"
          JimHess-DIrcbP Level 3

          If I am understanding you correctly, you are converting images that your Nikon scanner created as NEF files to DNG, and then you are expecting those DNG files to behave like regular raw images.  Nikon scanned NEF files are not raw files at all.  You cannot expect those files to perform like regular raw images from a camera.  But once the file has been converted to PSD any changes from that point on are part of the file.  Of course, if you use adjustment layers you can change those or remove them.  So any adjustments that way are in a sense nondestructive.

           

          When they talk of raw editing in ACR being nondestructive they are talking about the editing of original raw images from cameras or DNG's created from those original raw images.  Any changes made in ACR can be reversed.  The original "raw" image data is never modified and the look of the image can always be restored to that original "raw" data.  But you have to start out with raw image data in the first place, whether that be the original files or DNG files.  Scanned NEF files are not raw image data.

          • 2. Re: Camera Raw edits are permanent in layered file, therefore "destructive"
            Noel Carboni Level 7

            Please read carefully:

             

            1.  NOTHING is "destructive" if you do not save over your original file.

             

            2.  Bearing in mind #1 above, there is no evil in developing input data into an image in which pixel values are set per the controls in Camera Raw.  That's what Camera Raw does best!

             

            Learning from others is great, but keep in mind sometimes people have an agenda in what they teach and "rules of thumb" like "avoid destructive edits like the plague" are developed to start you off in the right direction.  I'm just saying use your common sense as well.

             

            -Noel

            • 3. Re: Camera Raw edits are permanent in layered file, therefore "destructive"
              jdt7385 Level 1

              I have both scanned TIFFs (scanned from 35mm film) and Nikon NEFs converted to DNGs (shot with a Nikon digital camera). Yes, I am aware that the Camera Raw edits are stored in the original file and that I can change or remove those edits in that file. However, that is not what I want to do. After making the Camera Raw edits I open the file into Photoshop for further editing, using adjustment layers. I then save the master file as a PSD file. There is some ability to save the Camera Raw edits if one converts the file to a Smart Object. However I am not sure that I can add Photoshop layers to a Smart Object file without having to flatten the file, thereby defeating the purpose of using adjustment layers. I need to learn more about the possibility of using Smart Objects in this manner. That may be the best alternative; however I am not sure that it is a viable alternative.

               

              Thanks for your reply.

              • 4. Re: Camera Raw edits are permanent in layered file, therefore "destructive"
                JimHess-DIrcbP Level 3

                I have not used Smart Objects very much.  But the whole idea is that you can migrate from Camera Raw to Photoshop as a Smart Object, and then if necessary you can return to Camera Raw to make adjustments to the raw image itself even if you have added smart filters and adjustment layers, etc..  If you save the PSD in the Smart filter state, you can open it later and still return to Camera Raw and make adjustments to the raw image itself.  However, once you have flattened that image all of the adjustments that you have made become part of the image data in the PSD, and you don't have the option of returning to Camera Raw anymore.  You say you don't know if you can add adjustment layers to Smart objects.  The easiest way to find out is to try it and see what happens.

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: Camera Raw edits are permanent in layered file, therefore "destructive"
                  Conrad C Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  If I'm reading your question right, you may be able to address this with Smart Objects and the Replace Contents command.

                   

                  Make your Camera Raw edits and open the file in Photoshop. Turn the TIFF layer into a Smart Object, then add all of your usual adjustment layers.

                   

                  Then, when you see something about the original TIFF you want to change in Camera Raw, do this:

                  1. Use Bridge to open the original TIFF image (not the one that's now a layered Photoshop file) in Camera Raw, make your changes, and click Done.

                  2. Return to your layered Photoshop file. Right-click on the name of the TIFF smart object and choose Replace Contents. This is the same as choosing Layer > Smart Objects > Replace Contents.

                  3. Locate and select the TIFF you edited, and click Place.

                   

                  You should get an updated ACR-edited TIFF in place of the old one.

                   

                  All of the above apply to Photoshop files you've already created. If you're starting a totally new Photoshop file from a TIFF edited in Camera Raw, it's much simpler. When you're done with your initial Camera Raw edits to the TIFF, Shift-click the Open Image button (Shift changes the button to "Open Object"). This way you get a smart object from the beginning that knows it came from Camera Raw. The advantage of this is that when you want to edit the Camera Raw settings for the TIFF, you get to skip all the steps above because all you have to do is double-click the smart object and the TIFF will open in Camera Raw, extending your nondestructive workflow.

                  • 6. Re: Camera Raw edits are permanent in layered file, therefore "destructive"
                    jdt7385 Level 1

                    Hi Jim,

                     

                    I have only used Smart Objects on a couple of occasions, both in order to apply the Shadow and Highlight adjustment like a sort of adjustment layer. So I am not very skilled in their use. However I am now experimenting further with Smart Objects and it appears that I can indeed accomplish what I want to accomplish by using them. In that regard see the reply from Conrad Chavez and my response below.

                     

                    Thanks for your help.

                    • 7. Re: Camera Raw edits are permanent in layered file, therefore "destructive"
                      jdt7385 Level 1

                      Hi Conrad,

                       

                      Thanks for your reply. Since posting my question I have done some experimenting with Smart Objects and, as you say, it appears that I can indeed accomplish what I wish to do by using Smart Objects. I thought, erroneously, that once I converted the background layer to a Smart Object that I had to flatten the file in order to add adjustment layers. I think that I got on the wrong track due to following some tutorials in one of Scott Kelby's books, in which he followed the procedure of flattening the file after making adjustments to the Smart Object layer. In other words I made an assumption that was wrong. Kelby probably flattened the file in order to save file space and did not indicate that one could not add layers abvoe the Smart Object layer.

                       

                      Since the conversion of the file to a Smart Object produces a much larger file it appears that one must decide whether one wants to retain the ability to change the Camera Raw edits badly enough to take the hit on the file size. Fair enough. At least I now know that I have the option to do so.

                       

                      One point of clarification if I may: My understanding is that if one fails to convert the background layer to a Smart Object before closing and saving the file as a PSD the Camera Raw edits are made permanent. If that is the case one could not then reopen the file in Photoshop, convert to a Smart Object and change the edits in Camera Raw. Do I have this right? Of course the original file containing the Camera Raw edits would be editable but I don't think one could get those changes into the layered PSD file.

                       

                      Many thanks for your help.

                      • 8. Re: Camera Raw edits are permanent in layered file, therefore "destructive"
                        JimHess-DIrcbP Level 3

                        Here is what I just tried in Lightroom.  ACR should be no different.

                        1.  Sent a raw image from Lightroom to Photoshop, added an adjustment layer.

                        2.  Save and close the image from Photoshop as a PSD image.

                        3.  Open the PSD image from Lightroom back into Photoshop, converted to smart object.

                        4.  Close the smart object, back to Lightroom.

                        5.  Open the PSD back into Photoshop, still a smart object, still has layers.

                         

                        It's all pretty flexible.  Just play with it a little and figure it out.

                        • 9. Re: Camera Raw edits are permanent in layered file, therefore "destructive"
                          Conrad C Adobe Community Professional & MVP


                          jdt7385 wrote:

                           

                          Since the conversion of the file to a Smart Object produces a much larger file it appears that one must decide whether one wants to retain the ability to change the Camera Raw edits badly enough to take the hit on the file size. Fair enough. At least I now know that I have the option to do so.

                          Yes, that's how I think about it. The flexibility of Smart Objects comes at a significant price that you pay in performance, RAM, and disk space, so the price may be too high on low-end systems. I believe that Kelby flattened because he reached a point where he felt he was done with edits, so he wanted to lower the system demands of the file by flattening it. Some would choose to keep the flexibility, and not flatten. Both are right answers.

                           

                          jdt7385 wrote:

                           

                          My understanding is that if one fails to convert the background layer to a Smart Object before closing and saving the file as a PSD the Camera Raw edits are made permanent. If that is the case one could not then reopen the file in Photoshop, convert to a Smart Object and change the edits in Camera Raw. Do I have this right

                           

                          When a TIFF comes out of Camera Raw using the Open Image button (not a smart object), it's essentially flattened and forgets how to be opened in Camera Raw from Photoshop. I can't think of a way to take a regular Photoshop layer and make it open in Camera Raw. If you take your layer that started as a plain TIFF, make it into a Smart Object, and double-click it, it only opens as the TIFF layer. That's why I felt you had to go back to Bridge, where you can force TIFFs to open in Camera Raw.

                           

                          jdt7385 wrote:

                           

                          Of course the original file containing the Camera Raw edits would be editable but I don't think one could get those changes into the layered PSD file.

                           

                          You could convert your existing "dead/flat" TIFF layer into a Smart Object, and replace it with the updated ACR-edited original TIFF using Replace Contents (a slightly different version of what I suggested).

                           

                          Here's how it all fits together: The Smart Object conversion makes the layer replaceable, you use Bridge as a "back door" to be able to edit the external TIFF in Camera Raw, then the final Replace Contents step both applies the updates inside the PSD while also setting up that Smart Object to be double-clickable into Camera Raw in the future.

                          • 10. Re: Camera Raw edits are permanent in layered file, therefore "destructive"
                            jdt7385 Level 1

                            Thanks so much for taking the time to explain this. I was not aware that it was possible to replace the Camera Raw edits after saving the file as a PSD or TIFF that had been edited in Photoshop. Since that is possible that raises the question of whether to bother to open the file out of Camera Raw into Photoshop as a Smart Object. It might be a better workflow to just start with a regular background layer and save as PSD in order to keep the file size smaller. Then, only if it becomes necessary to change the Camera Raw edits would one convert the background layer to a Smart Object.

                             

                            Thanks again for your help.