Photoshop Round Trip from Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: Is there a way to take a photo from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, add layers, go back to Lightroom Classic, and then back to Photoshop and see the layers?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, indeed. You can first send the image to Photoshop by using the menu command Photo > Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop. After working with the new derivative image in Photoshop, simply save and close and it will appear in Lightroom Classic. When you want to edit that image (with layers), us the same Edit In command, and choose “Edit Original” from the popup that appears.

More Detail: When you send a raw capture to Photoshop from Lightroom Classic you aren’t prompted with any questions, because no additional information is needed. The raw capture will be processed with the adjustment settings applied in the Develop module, and a new derivative image will be created as a TIFF or Photoshop PSD file depending on the settings established in Preferences.

You can add layers, of course, and otherwise apply any adjustments you’d like in Photoshop. When you’re finished working with the image simply save the final result with the File > Save command (not the “Save As” or “Save a Copy” commands) and close the image. When you go back to Lightroom Classic you’ll find this new derivative image alongside the original photo you had sent to Photoshop.

If you then want to perform some additional work on the layered derivative image, select that TIFF or PSD file in Lightroom Classic and again choose Photo > Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop. This time, because you are not sending a raw capture to Photoshop, you’ll be asked how you want to process the image.y

The first option is “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments”. This will cause an additional copy of the image to be created but it will be flattened without any layers. The second option is “Edit a Copy”, which will preserve the layers but will also create an additional derivative copy of the image, which you probably don’t need.

I recommend using the “Edit Original” option, which will send the derivative image as it is to Photoshop, including all layers and other work you performed in Photoshop.

There is one important caveat here. When you send the TIFF or PSD image back to Photoshop from Lightroom Classic, any adjustments you had applied after that image was back in Lightroom Classic after Photoshop will not be visible while you’re working in Photoshop. The adjustments will be visible again when you save and close the image and return to Lightroom Classic.

For example, let’s assume you sent a color raw capture from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, and did some work that included adding layers. Then, after closing the image in Photoshop and returning to Lightroom Classic, you converted the derivative image to black and white. If you then sent the image back to Photoshop with the “Edit Original” option you would see all the layers in Photoshop, but the image would appear in color. After saving and closing from Photoshop, when you return to Lightroom the image would again appear in black and white. This issue is due to the differences between Lightroom Classic and Photoshop in terms of how adjustments are applied.