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49

P: Add Layers to Lightroom

Participant ,
Aug 23, 2011 Aug 23, 2011

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I've seen a plugin that adds layers to LR which would save a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to Photoshop. The plugin is actually stand-alon, but also integrates with LR to some extent. It allows many of the layer options found in Photoshop. Not tried it but seems like a cracking idea! 🙂

Making LR more of an editor could make Photoshop redundant for pure photographic work

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96 Comments
LEGEND ,
Aug 23, 2011 Aug 23, 2011

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Until (and if) Adobe provides this large engineering, there is this useful plug-in:
http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-good...

Don’t forget to read the reality check behind this plug-in you mention:
http://regex.info/blog/2011-04-23/1753
Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Participant ,
Aug 23, 2011 Aug 23, 2011

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Yes, it was OnOne I was thinking of. I use OnOne presets in LR and their Phototools plugin for Photoshop. Both are useful but the Photoshop plugin has to switch the color scheme to Win 7 Basic everytime it is called as it can't seem to cope with Aero.

The website says: "With Perfect Layers you can create and edit multi-layered files directly from Lightroom and Aperture, " This is true in the sense that there is a link but it isn't integration within LR does it? As the blog linked in your post points out, if you have Photoshop you don't need this!

Although Adobe own both LR and PS they seem to deliberately keep LR development funding low and leave the team to get on with it in some remote corner. Presumably they're worried that no one would buy PS if too much editing functionality was added to LR?

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Participant ,
Jan 23, 2012 Jan 23, 2012

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When LR passes an image to PS, you typically get 3 choices. Edit original, Edit Copy, and Edit Copy with LR Adjustments. It seems that only the last one sends the LR adjustements to PS. So, let's say you apply adjustments in LR, then go to PS (with LR adjustments). In PS you create some layers and do some other things. When you close the image in PS, it askes to save your changes and if you say "yes" your PSD file now shows up in LR with all the edits (both LR and PSD). Your PS layers are preserved such that if you go back to PS again, you're layers are still there.

Now comes the tricky part. Let's say you make a second set of adjustments in LR (this time to the new PSD file). Now, if you go back to PS you can either have your image with your layers but without your 2nd set of LR adjustments, or keep your 2nd set of LR adjustments and lose your PS layers giving a single flattened layer. This is the problem.

As we know, when you make adjustments in LR, those adjustments are stored in the catalog. So, when you export an image to PS (with LR adjustments), it's actually taking your image file, applying your saved LR changes to the pixels in temporary copy of the image and then sending that copy to PS.

So, Here's a suggestion for the LR development geniuses.

If you have an image in LR that supports layers (e.g. PSD) and you have made LR adjustments, when LR packages the image to send it to PS, place the LR adjustments on a new Layer ("LR adjustments 1"). Now when you arrive in PS, you'll see your original file as the BG layer and an "LR Adjustments 1" layer. If at this point you add more layers in PS fine and good. When you save, and go back to LR, LR will retain all your layers and will show your image as if you had flattened the image as it does now. However I suggest the history panel should show you a new new entry called "external editior changes" on top of the original LR history steps. This now forms a new logical baseline for additional LR changes. So, now let's apply more LR adjustments and send it back to PS. This time LR will take the pixels as returned from PS the last time and apply the 2nd set of LR changes on another new layer called "LR Adjustments 2" and send you to PS.

In PS, you'll now see all your layers: BG layer (original capture), LR Adjustments 1, any layers you added in first trip to PS, LR Adjustments 2.

This process could be repeated as many times as you wish. Each time you go to PS, the LR adjustments made since the prior trip to PS would show up as a new "LR adjustments xx" layer while still preserving any layers added directly in PS.

Maybe I'm an idiot or don't understand something, but I think this could work.

Dan

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Explorer ,
Jan 23, 2012 Jan 23, 2012

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I was a bit disappointed with LR4 beta. Nothing much sees to have improved and all the (supposed) new items have been borrowed from Aperture 3. Still it could have been worse you might have tried to add face recognition.
What about Layer support?
Rotating the clone tool areas to allow for more accurate "lining up" of curved shapes.
The ability to change the colour of the little spot for quick collection.. and why only one quick collection?
C'mon guys we are talking version 4 here not 3.7

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LEGEND ,
Jan 23, 2012 Jan 23, 2012

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>>Nothing much sees to have improved and all the (supposed) new items have been borrowed from Aperture 3.

You’re either kidding or really haven’t looked very deep! Just the 2012 PV is a huge improvement in raw rendering over PV2010. Just the improvements in highlight recovery alone within PV2012 is huge. Let alone Soft proofing, better smart collection options, DNG improvements etc. Nothing at all like Aperture.

As for Layers, don’t hold your breath. And LR has to render out all additional parametric edits you make from a layered doc (it has to be processed through it’s engine) so you lose the layers. If you follow a logical workflow for processing your raw data, using LR as the tool it is, then pass the rendered data to Photoshop which is a pixel (not parametric) editor, use layers and be done with the Develop module as you should, you’ll be far better off. The two tools are vastly different! You can’t turn a kitchen knife into an effective tool to handle screwing in screws any more than you can use Photoshop’s type tool as a substitute for MS word or InDesign. Use the right tool for the right job instead of hoping all your tools are Swiss Army Knife compromises.
Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Explorer ,
Jan 23, 2012 Jan 23, 2012

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I take your point. I just don't think that there have been sufficient changes to warrant calling it Version4. Still it's only in Beta so we might see some tweaks before it's launched. A new suite of adjustment tools would have been more interesting than maps. If we have to flip out to PS anytime we need to do anything useful why not use ID or AI for books and proofing. Tools for the job and all that..

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LEGEND ,
Jan 28, 2012 Jan 28, 2012

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If you have not been asked yet, probably you have already, will LAYERS be a possibility in LT4 or later?

Regards Vic

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Participant ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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There is no reason why Lightroom couldn't be developed to be both a parametric adjustor as it is at the moment plus a bitmap pixel editor with layers. There are plenty of applications now that combine bitmap with vector editing for example.

Such an application would be all a photographer needs since I find much of Photoshop is rarely used when just editing photographic images. Having said that, the link between PS and LR is such that switching an image between the two is painless.

I particularly like how after editing in PS and returning to LR, I can later re-edit that image in PS and still have all my layers and masks from the last edit.

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LEGEND ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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>There is no reason why Lightroom couldn't be developed to be both a parametric adjustor as it is at the moment plus a bitmap pixel editor with layers.

Well there is no reason why Lightroom couldn’t be Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop all rolled into one huge, expensive application assuming you are willing to wait for engineering to do this (and Adobe was willing to spend the time and money too). Yup, LR Pro that does all of the above, due to ship summer of 2016 at a mere $3000.

Anything is possible.

Now back to reality...
Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Explorer ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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Well yes but with limited resources it would have been better to have layer support (Adobe Elements) manages this and that's hardly an expensive program. Then we have the Books module??? surely InDesign does this already. I just don't understand the thinking behind the developers. they seem to say if you want layers use PS but if you need to do a book (hey we took the trouble to build that in for you )
The problem here is what we have seen at Apple everything is being "dumbed down" it's only a matter of time before we are shooting everything on camera phones anyway. LR4 is being aimed at the advanced amateur which to be honest probably has more time and money to play with software than working photographers do

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Participant ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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Andrew, you seem very negaive, you don't work for Adobe do you? 🙂

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Community Expert ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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Adobe employees have a badge indicating it.

I don't see much of a case for Lightroom having layers. It's not Photoshop for one thing, and how much of layers would you want to have? I imagine you'll want masking, blending modes too, blend-if should be there.... Text layers? Shapes? Layer styles? By the time you've implemented layers on more than a very amateur level you've got a tool that still isn't going to satisfy those used to proper Photoshop style layers. And yet it will still be over the heads of the many Photoshop users out there who remain so frightened of layers they never use them.

Rather than ape Photoshop and become a compositing tool, it's better that Lightroom continues with its style of adjustments - pins, grad filters.

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Participant ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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As a photographer, I find Lightroom lacking when it comes to making localised adjustments and cloning. I thus have to edit in PS to make use of its layers, selection and masking tools. There is no alternative within Lightroom is there? So why so anti layers?

Why would a photographer want shapes, styles, text and so on as you suggest?!

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LEGEND ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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>So why so anti layers?

Because there are existing tools that exists that were built to do this, Photoshop (or Elements) and because adding this would be huge engineering and would suck resources from a much smaller engineering team to implement functionality more beneficial for the larger LR audience and it’s core aim.

I suppose if a year ago folks could vote for either, PV2012 or Layers, they would vote for Layers? You’d really prefer to duplicate functionally that already exists in many products and continue with poorer raw rendering processing? Or you’d swap Soft Proofing using metadata edits on Virtual Copies that interface with the Print Module for Layers?

Just about anything could probably be built into LR but at what price?

It is all about resources and building a tool that is designed for a specific task and audience. You want layers, get Elements or Photoshop. You want a word processor, get MS Word or similar.
Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Community Expert ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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A very narrow definition of a photographer? Never produced an ad for a trade magazine or another graphic? But I mentioned those as one extreme of a range of layer features, and wherever you choose to place your arbitrary "why would a photographer want x" cut is going to leave your Lightroom layers without key features of layers and a dumbed-down implementation. Lightroom's just not the right tool for compositing.

If you want better localised adjustments and better cloning, just ask for them?

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Explorer ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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The problem here folks is that Photoshop was seen as too heavy. So LR was born. Designed from the ground up to be an essential tool for photographers. To ask for a feature that would require a rewrite ( like layers or focus point indication) is regarded as heresy. At the end of the day LR is pretty good at what it does. (that's why we all love it...right?)
It would be great to have better local adjustments a simple rotate control on the clone tool would be fantastic. As for layers all I can say to people that don't understand the need for them have never had to shoot group pictures on a daily basis

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LEGEND ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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>It would be great to have better local adjustments a simple rotate control on the clone tool would be fantastic.

Now you’re talking. Probably not huge engineering and something you don’t see at all in Photoshop with parametric edits. I still think that for the foreseeable future, selective cloning in LR will be far less robust than Photoshop which is after all a pixel editor with very precise controls. I’m not asking LR to do the kind of work a high end retoucher could do in PS (cause I own PS and would use that anyway). Take out a row of telephone poles and lines in an image in LR? Crazy. But remove a pole sicking out of one person’s head? OK, I’m game.

It boils down to using the right tool for the job. You can use a Kitchen Knife as a screwdriver. Occasionally. Maybe with one screw. If you are a carpenter, you’re going to use that high quality electric drill to do the job. And you are not going to use that tool to cut your steak. Trying to make LR into Photoshop is as folly as trying to make Photoshop into InDesign or Premier. Given the time and money, probably possible. Would be hugely expense for all users, hugely complicated to use.
Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Participant ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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>If you want better localised adjustments and better cloning, just ask for them?<

Please can I have better local adjustments... and more controllable cloning please?

I really didn't think it would be such a big ask to add layers in LR nor did I realise the feelings it would generate. I use Lightroom to import and process my raw files and to organise them. They invariably require further work and so I edit them in PS. Lightroom isn't some sort of holy cow that mustn't be touched for heaven's sake. It's a tool and I maybe naievly thought that taking some code from PS and adding it to LR wouldn't be a big thing. Turning Lightroom into a better featured image processor and editor isn't heresy nor, I suspect, as difficult as some suggest.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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"...the feelings it would generate"? No emotions here, just disagreement with the suggestion. As for "heresy", again no - just an explanation that pixel editors and parametric editors are different kinds of tools.

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Participant ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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>just an explanation that pixel editors and parametric editors are different kinds of tools.

I fully understand that but don't accept that that precludes having both in the one application. As I said before vector and bitmap editing exist side by side in many applications don't they.

Well it seems there's no likelyhood of my wishlist becoming true anytime soon then.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 29, 2012 Jan 29, 2012

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But if what you really want is improvements to local adjustments (even more than in LR4) and particularly more flexible cloning, there's probably a consensus.

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LEGEND ,
Jan 30, 2012 Jan 30, 2012

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There is no inconsolable difference between "pixel editing" and "parametric editing".

Here's how to turn Photoshop into a parametric editor: Record all users input (mouse movements and clicks). Replay all user input as needed (rendering always starts from an original that never changes). Allow user input recordings to be deleted. Allow the parameters for the tools that receive these recordings to be changed. Voilà, non-destructive image editing in Photoshop. But the pixels get pushed, you say? Only for the rendering of the output. As you can always remove user input sequences, you can always go back to the original.

Here's how Lightroom is destructive just as Photoshop is: For instance, when you clone one area over another, the target pixels get destroyed. Ouch! But don't fear as we are only modifying a working copy that is used to accumulate changes so that we obtain the final rendering. We never change the original source, so we can always go back to it and/or use only part of the changes we apply to it (on the working copy). Same as above.

So, please, let us lay to rest this myth of some things being possible for a pixel editor vs a parametric editor. Surely, there is a performance challenge. Generating final renderings by replaying user-input on original sources takes the longer, the more complicated changes you allow. But, for instance, it would be quicker to replay one long clone brush stroke than fifty healing spots, all aligned as pearls on a string to mimic the long clone brush stroke.

Conceptually, Lightroom already uses layers. One can think of its image pipeline as using a curves adjustment layer, followed by a HSL adjustement layer, ..., followed by adjustment brush layers, ..., followed by a sharpening adjustement layer. The LR UI just does not expose the layers to the users. And that's reasonable, AFAIC. I don't see Lightroom becoming a compositing tool, the watershed to Photoshop has to be somewhere and compositing is where Photoshop rules. Hence, Lightroom does not require layers and can try to allow image adjustments without using a layer metaphor.

Adjustment brushes, for example, can be thought of using layer masks (containing the brush strokes) and layers with the working image copied but with all brush settings applied. But all the complexity of creating a layer, creating a layer mask, changing the layer and then brushing the mask to show parts of the new layer on the working copy is hidden to the user. I feel that Lightroom should continue to hide complexity this way.

In summary, no layers for Lightroom but not because there is an inconsolable difference between pixel pushing and parametric editing, but because the complexity of layers is kept in Photoshop land. By the same token, of course, this means that better retouching support is possible and should be implemented rather sooner than later.

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LEGEND ,
Jan 30, 2012 Jan 30, 2012

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>Here's how Lightroom is destructive just as Photoshop is: For instance, when you clone one area over another, the target pixels get destroyed. Ouch!

That, like much of your post is incorrect and shows a huge misunderstanding of the processing. There are no pixels affected until you render the data (original, be it raw or existing rendered data plus instruction of edit used to create new set of pixels). The area you see in the preview is simply what will, I repeat will result only if you render the data to a new iteration. It is not destructive, it has no effect on pixels that as yet have been rendered.
Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Participant ,
Jan 30, 2012 Jan 30, 2012

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I look forward to LR4. I did take a quick look a couple of months ago but as it wouldn't use my existing catalog without re-importing everything, decided to wait for the final release. Reading the link TK, shows there is a demand for better retouching tools so will download the latest beta for another peep. -:)

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LEGEND ,
Jan 30, 2012 Jan 30, 2012

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http://www.adobe.com/digitalimag/pdfs...
Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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