TIFF Workflow


Today’s Question: What is your recommended workflow for a TIFF file? I have scanned and imported all my old slides into Lightroom as “.tif” files, and now wish to print/display some of them. From your excellent guidance I now use Lightroom for the vast majority of my adjustments, but find I prefer the spot healing brush tool in Photoshop to eliminate the dust that has permeated my slides. Occasionally I also use Photoshop to create masks for specific adjustments. Finally many of the Lightroom adjustments for a TIFF file do not seem to transfer to the Photoshop image for me. Currently I first create a “.psd” file for the healing brush in Photoshop, and then go back to Lightroom and use this file for the adjustments. There must be a better way.

Tim’s Quick Answer: For general optimization work my preference would be to simply send the “original” TIFF image to Photoshop to work on it there. Then save the changes and close the image file to update that image in Lightroom. Note that the Lightroom adjustments will not be visible while you are in Lightroom, but they will still be applied when you return to Lightroom for that image. For print preparation I would make an additional copy of the TIFF image, and that copy could be either a TIFF or PSD.

More Detail: In the case of working on the “original” TIFF image created from the scan, I would be perfectly happy to work on that same image file for general adjustments in Photoshop. In other words, when prompted about how I want to handle the image upon sending it to Photoshop, I would choose the “Edit Original” option. I would then use a completely non-destructive workflow (with adjustment layers, additional image layers, and layer masks, as needed, for example) so that none of the original pixel values are being altered. When you’re finished working with the image in Photoshop, simply choose File > Save (not “Save As”) and then File > Close from the menu to save and close the changes so you can return to Lightroom.

As noted above, the adjustments you applied in Lightroom will not be visible while you are working in Photoshop. This can obviously be a little frustrating, but it is generally not too difficult to work around this limitation. The Lightroom adjustments will still be applied when you are back in Lightroom after finishing your work in Photoshop.

If you will be performing any “destructive” work, such as for printing, then I would want to make an additional copy of the image with the Lightroom adjustments applied. For example, if you plan to resize and sharpen the image for a specific output size, that is altering the underlying pixel information in the image. In that case I would choose the option to create a copy of the image with the Lightroom adjustments applied when sending the photo to Photoshop. Then perform all the work that is needed and save and close the image. That image would then be ready for final output based on the output size you designated for the image, but you could always return to your “original” scanned TIFF image as needed.