Multiple Derivative Images


Today’s Question: How can I save different edited versions of a photo back to Lightroom Classic? If I try “Save As” I don’t have the option to go back to Lightroom, only back to my hard drive.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can actually use the Save As command to create multiple versions of the image in Photoshop, which will generally then automatically be added to your Lightroom Classic catalog. It is important, however, to only use the Photoshop PSD or TIFF file formats when using “Save As” in Photoshop with this workflow.

More Detail: In the early days of Lightroom Classic (before it was called Lightroom Classic) using the Save As command in Photoshop for an image you sent from Lightroom was generally problematic, with the resulting file not being added to your Lightroom catalog. At some point in the recent past, this issue was resolved, as I’ve found that you can use the Save As command in Photoshop reliably for images sent from Lightroom Classic.

However, you must save the image as either a Photoshop PSD or TIFF file in order for it to be added to the Lightroom Classic catalog. If you save the image as a JPEG in Photoshop, for example, it will not be added to the catalog.

So, the workflow is relatively straightforward if you want to create multiple derivative versions of the same source photo. Start by selecting the photo in Lightroom Classic. Then go to the menu and choose Photo > Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop. If the source image is a raw capture it will simply be opened in Photoshop. If you selected a different image type (such as a JPEG) you’ll be prompted for how you want to process the image, in which case you should generally select “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments”.

Once in Photoshop, you can apply any adjustments you’d like to the image. When you’re finished, you can simply choose File > Save to save the updated file in the same location as the source image, with an updated filename based on the settings in Preferences in Lightroom Classic.

Before closing the file in Photoshop, you could create an additional derivative version. After saving the first version, apply additional adjustments and choose File > Save As. Make sure you save as either a PSD or TIFF file, and you can otherwise save the image in any location and with any filename you’d like. You can repeat this process for as many derivative variations as you’d like to create. Then close the image, and when you get back to Lightroom Classic you should find all of the derivative versions you created.

If for any reason one or more of your derivative images didn’t show up in your Lightroom catalog, you can simply synchronize the applicable folder where the derivative files are saved (presumably in the same folder as the source image). To do so, right-click on the folder name in the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module and choose “Synchronize Folder” from the popup menu that appears. Click the Synchronize button in the dialog that appears, and the new images will then be added to your catalog.