A Computer Darkroom Tutorial

This short tutorial is intended to aid Adobe Lightroom 1.x users achieve a seamless color managed workflow when working with Photoshop.


Adobe Lightroom 1.x and Photoshop Color Management

Whilst Adobe Lightroom 1.x has quite a few of the attributes necessary to make it a feasible alternative to Photoshop for many photographers it falls slightly short of the mark in some key areas:

  1. No facility for localised tone corrections (e.g. dodge, burn, and linear grads)

  2. No facility for "creative" sharpening

No doubt other photographers will have have a much longer list, but before adding them they should remember that Lightroom is not intended to replace Photoshop. Nevertheless, the absence of the above features often requires the Lightroom user to make what is known as a round-trip into Photoshop. Unfortunately, for some this trip isn't always as pain free as it should be. Why?

Adobe Lightroom uses the ProPhoto RGB color space internally and will always embed a profile for this color space within images that are exported via the Edit in Adobe Photoshop command. The problem is that many users do not use this color space and are therefore greatly  annoyed with the appearance of the Photoshop Profile Mismatch alert. They are further annoyed at having to convert the image to their preferred color space.

The quickest and easiest way to avoid the problem described above is to configure the Lightroom External Editor preference so that images when exported from Lightroom using the Edit in Adobe Photoshop... command are already converted to their preferred color space, which is typically Adobe RGB (1998).


Lightroom Preferences Dialog

Alternatively, with a bit of reconfiguration within the Photoshop Color Settings dialog it is again possible to avoid both of these annoyances. The two settings bounded in red in following screenshot show the settings that should be used in Photoshop.


Photoshop Color Settings - Optimised for Adobe Lightroom

Notice that the RGB workings space profile is shown as Adobe RGB (1998), but it could be sRGB, ColorMatch, etc. Anyway, the next time an image is opened  via the Lightroom Edit in Adobe Photoshop command the screenshot shown below is likely to appear in Photoshop. If it does, it will be necessary to check the box labelled Don't show again followed by OK. The most obvious benefit of this alternative approach is that it provides the user with a much greater range of color space options than Lightroom offers (e.g. ColorMatch, ROMM, Apple RGB).


Photoshop Profile Mismatch Alert

The last point to made about the Lightroom-Photoshop-Lightroom round-trip is that the modified image MUST be saved using the same name and file type (i.e. TIFF, PSD) as the original and must be placed back into the same folder as the original. The best approach is therefore to use the Save command in Photoshop rather than Save As. If the modified image is saved using a new name or in a new location Lightroom will not be able to keep track of it and the image will therefore be outside of the Lightroom managed Library. Finally, it's worth noting that any adjustment layers applied to the image within Photoshop will be preserved and Lightroom will fully honour the appearance of the edited image. Unfortunately, Smart Objects will not be preserved, so it's best to flatten the image prior to saving it.

Remember Rule 5 - Enjoy!

Adobe Community Professional


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