Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Raw File Shuffle

Text And Photography By George Jardine Published in Photography Software Technique
The Raw File Shuffle
Mastery of the workflow becomes possible once you realize how flexible the system truly is. Even after adding Lightroom modifications on top of a layered Photoshop file, you still can go back and open that file in Photoshop again and continue refining your composition—all without disturbing your Lightroom adjustments that have been made to the very same file. And we'll pick it up right there, delving into the intricacies of the RGB workflow in future articles.

George Jardine is a photographer, teacher and Lightroom expert. Read his blog and view a range of excellent tutorials on his website at

Working With Apple Aperture

When it comes to combining a database-driven program like Aperture or Lightroom with Photoshop, what does the word "integration" really mean? For the most part, all integration really means is that the database or cataloging program is able to hand off files to Photoshop for editing and then manage the resulting RGB files that are created back in the catalog.

There are one or two differences in the way Aperture and Lightroom handle this back and forth, but the bottom line is that all the core things that a photographer needs to do exist in both programs. First, when taking a raw file from either Aperture or Lightroom over to Photoshop, an RGB file must be created. That's just the nature of the game. And both Aperture and Lightroom essentially do this in the same way—baking any nondestructive adjustments that have been made to the raw image right into the new RGB pixels that are created. Then that new RGB file is automatically included in the Aperture Library or the Lightroom catalog. That part of the raw workflow is the central focus of this article.

After editing in Photoshop, your new RGB file then can be further modified using nondestructive settings in both Aperture and Lightroom. That resulting RGB file can be taken back to Photoshop, as usual, from either program. Both Aperture and Lightroom give you fairly easy ways to edit the original RGB, without baking in any subsequent nondestructive edits, or to create yet another branch, by generating an entirely new file that includes any nondestructive edits that you've made. The user interface protocols are just a little different, but the end result is identical.

The aspect that's not identical is that of the raw processing. Of course, Apple and Adobe have engineered their own RAW processors, and each one will give you slightly different controls and results. Not only will the results vary slightly between these two third-party processors, but they will be slightly different from those generated by your camera manufacturer's raw processor, as well. In the end, many people choose one program over another because of the quality or the uniqueness of its raw processing.

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