Improve your Camera RAW workflow using Smart Objects in Photoshop

When working with Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop Lightroom and RAW/DNG files, most people i have spoken to, edit the file using a standard layer within Photoshop,  the standard “Open Image” from Camera RAW or the “Edit in Photoshop” from Lightroom will remove the ability to round trip  back to the RAW/DNG for any further adjustments.  If, however, you open the image as a Smart Object inside Photoshop from either Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop will keep the link back to the Original RAW file and provide a round trip workflow, which will allow for further RAW adjustments to be made.

Here’s how :-

– From Camera Raw :  The default way to open the file into Adobe Photoshop once the Camera Raw adjustments have been made is by pressing the “Open Image” button inside Camera Raw, however, if you press the Shift key before you press “Open Image”, the button changes to “Open Object”, pressing the button now will open the file inside Photoshop as a Smart Object. Once inside Photoshop, you are able to re-open the Adobe Camera Raw program by clicking on the image thumbnail inside the original created layer.

– Lightroom : When you have completed the edits in Lightroom, you are able to open the image for further edits by selecting “Develop mode: Photo/Edit/Edit in Adobe Photoshop”, however, if you choose “Develop mode: Photo/Edit/Edit as a Smart Object in Adobe Photoshop”,  the file will open inside Photoshop as a Smart Object. When inside Adobe Photoshop you can round trip back to Adobe Camera Raw (Note not Lightroom) by clicking on the image thumbnail inside the original created layer.

There you have a complete RAW/DNG image round trip workflow for both Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Lightroom.


4 Responses to Improve your Camera RAW workflow using Smart Objects in Photoshop

  1. Marc says:

    Yes but I have noticed that if you use the above workflow for PS & CR it only opens the individual file that you were working on. What if (like in my case) that you have multiple files open in CR what do you do then?


    • rcurtis says:

      If i understand your question correctly. From CR and LR you are not actually unable to open multiple files as smart objects as layers in a single Photoshop document. You are able to open them as individual documents into 3 individual documents as smart objects, then select a base file and move the other files as smart objects into it. Unfortunately not as a single step from CR or LR.

  2. Alan says:

    Could you expand your explanation a bit. I understand the creating a smart object to go from LR to PS. I want to start with a proof copy going from LR to PS. Do I do anything differently? I also want to use my NIK plugins while in PS. I do all this and then close out of PS. How do I go back to re-edit that file? How do I find it? Is there a proper workflow for all this?

    • rcurtis says:

      Hi Alan,

      I understand that with the Nik Software you are able to create an object for smart filters and apply the Nik software on this smart filter.