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P: Please let us make "destructive" changes to our images

Explorer ,
Dec 27, 2017 Dec 27, 2017

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I work on a library of 7K+ images across 220 directories/folders. When I make changes to an image I want the option to write those to the original file, not just to the catalog/database. There are many reasons for this need but for some reason Lightroom seems to be uniquely defiant and righteous on this topic. Please don't be condescending and tell me to use the Export option because it's just to cumbersome, especially when working on large numbers of files. I just want Ctrl-S to write all changes to the file I'm working on, not a copy.

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55 Comments
Engaged ,
Dec 28, 2017 Dec 28, 2017

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The beauty of non-destructive editing is that you are not locked into 'one edit and you're done'. You can come back to an image later, add to it or rework it completely. Over the years, Lightroom has had, and will continue to have, new tools added to it. The ability to go back to an original image and improve it with new tools or even newly learned techniques is a huge advantage. Destroying your original files, even if jpeg, is not a good idea for Lightroom.

You don't have to be a pro to shoot raw, you just need to realise the huge advantage that can be gained from working with all the captured information, rather than a compressed file that has had a large proportion of image data discarded by the camera's software. Editing raw is no different to editing jpeg in Lightroom, but the results can be enormously different.

A destructive workflow make no sense to me. Even if I used a destructive workflow, I would make sure my original files were never touched (backed up, archived).

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Community Expert ,
Dec 29, 2017 Dec 29, 2017

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What evidence? The entire history of Lightroom, and the entire history of Photoshop's own Camera Raw plug-in that preceded LR, and which it's based on. You ask any of the people who were there at the start... oh hang on, you just did.
______________________
The Lightroom Queen - Author of the Lightroom Missing FAQ & Edit Like a Pro books.

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LEGEND ,
Dec 29, 2017 Dec 29, 2017

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All that conversation for 7K pictures! I wonder which corrections you are making on such light pic's?
My estimation is that LR does what it has been conceived and written for what it does today. Flexibility is there in LR, one can adapt the way of use based on it's own specific needs. Yes, as every application, LR is not 100% perfect. For sure, depending on users styles, there are several aspects to be improved.
But, I find that your suggestion will open to a messy situation within catalogs. Best is to keep it as it has been conceived from the beginning.

Any way, there is a simple way to solve your situation. You describe it.

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Explorer ,
Dec 29, 2017 Dec 29, 2017

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Thanks for your thoughts. Maybe Adobe could save the original in the catalog somewhere, like they do the Previews, when one chose to overwrite. Google Picasa almost had this right but the .Picasaoriginals folder they created was in a subfolder directly under the image that was changed, causing clutter. I did roll back a few times, but mostly just deleted the .Picasaoriginals folders after some period of time.

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LEGEND ,
Dec 29, 2017 Dec 29, 2017

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You CAN'T save changes to RAW files (although the original camera vendor would have the RAW specs and could presumably do so if they wanted- but Adobe can't.) So your idea is impossible from a technical standpoint.

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LEGEND ,
Dec 29, 2017 Dec 29, 2017

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To be more clear about these different things.

RAW files format are the property of every camera producers. And they keep their file map secret. It go so far that within the same product range (like 1D MkIV and 5D Mk III) RAW files structure can be different. Every producer has it's own RAW format type. In other words, a Nikon camera can't read or create a RAW based on Canon RAW format. 

A RAW is NOT a RASTER or Vector format, it's just a binary format that need to be interpreted by a software like the one you have on your camera. This soft create a JPEG. due to it's simplification, it's almost difficult to make good corrections on it while wit a RAW almost every elements are adaptable. RAW format is to be considered as the image source.
  
As They are badly documented, every software maker need to make reverse engineering to be able to read the different format. But they will never adapt it. They will create an other file style TIFF - JPEG, etc... 
To my knowledge, it doesn't exist a software producer having directly received the complete map of a RAW format from a camera supplier.

To add on this, old photographers like to keep their RAW just as they did for analog negative.

In EDP world, one say " In any situation type keep your original free off ANY changes" So said RAW is the basic reference for most of photographers. Most of them need to keep them un their hand.

Keeping RAW format files, is also some times an advantage depending on what job type the photographer does. 

Do not forget to think about new software version. Evolution....

Your considerations:
You cannot compare RAW and previews. Their purpose are radically different. RAW needs a Preview to be seen. Preview is created each time you act on the RAW while the RAW is kept free of any transformation way of doing preparing the resulting file differs from one soft to an other.

Comparing Picasa and LR is a non sense, they customer target is to my opinion different.

Everybody has the right to erase every thing on it's computer, as well as the RAW.  It's not a question of right it's a question about conception.

To finish on this point, if your last proposition should by hasard be applied, I will be very sad for the users of it. They will create a mess on their computer. Several users are already doing this mess. But without any protection (guide line) this will be a disaster. 

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New Here ,
Dec 30, 2017 Dec 30, 2017

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I don't understand the strong reactions to Steve Martin's reasonable proposal?   The current non-destructive editing should be the default of course.  Should it be easy to accidentally save destructively - absolutely not.  Should it replace RAW files, eg with jpegs - no need.  No one who currently uses non-destructive LR should be inconvenienced in the slightest.  As pointed out this is certainly a trivial programming challenge.  So why not offer it?  Or if this is such a sacrosanct photo editing feature, why not insist Photoshop not be allowed destructive editing?

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Engaged ,
Dec 30, 2017 Dec 30, 2017

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If it was easy, then it should not be too difficult for a programmer to write a plugin to do the job.

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Participant ,
Dec 30, 2017 Dec 30, 2017

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Steve,

Please don't confuse your specialized requirements with those of the user base as a whole.  Listen to what people are telling you.  Go with Photoshop.

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Participant ,
Dec 30, 2017 Dec 30, 2017

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The "strong reactions" are caused by Steve's lack of understanding of the overall design philosophy of Lightroom.  Also, Steve always has the option to do a one-time TIFF export of each of the images in question and use that TIFF for further non-destructive edits.

I don't agree with everything Adobe does, for example the confusing announcement of Lightroom Classic, but I would back Adobe 100% in not addressing this request.

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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I think it is because Lightroom was developed from the very beginning around the principle of non-destructive editing, and so we are surprised that someone would choose to use it, then request a change around the core principle; particularly as there are many other apps available with that behaviour.

Something else I think nobody has mentioned in this thread is the loss of quality with repeated saves of a JPEG file. I know that I have gone back and re-processed many of my images, as new versions of the processing engine have become better and as my own processing skills and eye for processing have improved. Had I been saving previous edits to JPEG files over the originals there would have been some small amount of degradation each time. Perhaps re-processing is not something that Steve Martin ever does, but this potential degradation is worth bearing in mind, even using a manual overwrite procedure as he does.

If I might make a suggestion for a different workflow, perhaps consider making a sub-folder called Processed beneath the original folder and exporting edited versions to it. This can then be imported back into Lightroom initially and synchronised if further exports are done to it. This would allow the original JPEG (with more information) to be kept in the original folder while still having the exported version within Lightroom. Perhaps not as easy a workflow as being able to over-write the original JPEG but easier than manually moving files outside of Lightroom and still retaining the original best quality JPEG that future re-processing could be done against.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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"Something else I think nobody has mentioned in this thread is the loss of quality with repeated saves of a JPEG file." I mentioned that three days ago already.
-- Johan W. Elzenga

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LEGEND ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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From the it's first version (I started with V2) LR propose a specific workflow but leave the user choose it's own. To do so, every LR user know that, one can call other applications using the "plugin" feature. This is what I do since then. My workflow is not as simple as it could be using only LR proposal. But, I am satisfied and every thing is completely safe. 

Adding to LR the Steve's proposal would, to my point of view, bring to serious misunderstanding and create a messy situation.

Deciding to erase (kill) the RAW or any original file format could be done for instance at the same time LR create/export the JPEG. This type of action generate a critical situation. 

May be, this may satisfy several users like Steve.
But, this creates a no return situation. So:
 - Impossible to go back in case the correction made by LR does'nt give satisfaction.
 - Can not redo processing with a new version of LR .

Assuming that the choice of RAW suppression would be determined by a user-manipulated "swich", one could arrive at situations such as:
- Forgetting to change the swich when changing the way of working.
- If this type of function is introduced, it should "secure" the use of this swich. Which from then on would not be of a friendly use.

 - Among other solutions, there is a very simple (but as risky) to use in LR as the deletion of RAW at once by sorting the photos by file type and then selecting them in a group to delete them.

Personally I only delete RAW after a very tight sort and before any correction. For those who (like sports reporters) only work in JPEG, the question could indeed arise. But to mix originals and corrected copies remains to me a major management error.

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New Here ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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I was also a bit surprised by the level of "OMG you can't do that" responses. A lot more useful would be (and has been based on some respones) "why do you need it" to see if there was some alternative in the current capability. Or more speculative "how might this work".

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New Here ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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As said before, I completely support the current non-destructive system and it should continue to work flawlessly and with no chance of error for all users.   But I still support the option of destructive editing.

(1) The idea of a plugin to accomplish this is interesting; is it possible?

(2) Loss of resolution with multiple jpeg saves:  Yes, this can be an issue, but you have to consider how most of us non-professionals (perhaps the majority of LR users?) view photos.  My photos are viewed at FHD (1920x1080) or less, which is lower resolution than even my phone camera.   Yes, after cropping it can be an issue.  I expect to move to UHD (3840x2160) screens in the future,  but expect my cameras to stay ahead of this.   If I think I'm going to re-edit in Photoshop I save the psd file, otherwise save in jpeg.   Have I ever regretted overwriting the original - yes, a couple of time.  Have I ever noticed a loss of resolution - never (except in some experiments with 10 edit-save iterations).

(3) Steve Crane mentioned saving edited versions in a subfolder.  If I remember correctly, several photo editing programs, eg ACDSee Ultimate, save the originals (with redoable editing?) in a separate subfolder.   This seems like a good scheme.

(4) Lockin.   If I use Lightroom for editing, I've pretty much got to use it all the time.  Eg, if I want to use Photoshop, I first have to go thru LIghtroom so that those edits are applied.  What if I decided to use another program for both database and editing.   How do I get all those LR edits applied, yet save the originals perhaps in a subfolder.   Is there a way or am I locked in, as Adobe surely wants me to be?

Now if the medical profession only had non-destructive surgery!  

Happy New Year to all,  Fred

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Community Expert ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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From what I know of the plugin system, I am pretty sure a plugin could indeed implement this idea. The problem might be finding a plugin author who judges it a responsible thing to do.

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New Here ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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"Responsible thing"...wow..this isn't a morality issue.

LR allows me to permanently delete files...they seem like a fine upstanding company so i guess it is a responsible thing to do 🙂

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Community Expert ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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Yes, it is a question of "morality" or judgement. I suspect most plugin authors want to enhance Lightroom's capabilities, not circumvent important safeguards or facilitate bad practice.

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New Here ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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So if deleting files is bad practice...LR already allows that..permanent, irrevocable (not even going to recycle bin) deletion of raw files. Is LR immoral?

And there are other plugins that delete files under user direction.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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Go on about LR's built-in deletion capability as much as you want. It just isn't relevant to whether one should facilitate a destructive editing workflow.

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New Here ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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Ha, ha.  I love it - LR immorally allowing destruction of RAW files.   But  I actually am interested in why there is no similar outrage about Photoshop's destructive editing.  Is it just that it's an old, legacy-hindered (immoral?) piece of software than can't be changed for practical reasons?   Or would the LR non-destructionists like Photoshop to be non-destructive too?

I don't know the future roadmap for LR - do they plan to add more and more editing to LR to eliminate the need for Photoshop?

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New Here ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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I would speculate that the future is to keep that den of sin photoshop as a desktop program due to local storage and compute requirements and move more of LR features into the cloud based (non-classic) version over the next year or so.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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Prattle on about deleting raw files if you wish, but do you actually understand that plenty of people do use Photoshop as non-destructively as possible? eg using adjustment layers rather than adjusting an image layer, or applying filters to smart object layers. It's just good practice. 

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Community Expert ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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Photoshop does not destructively edit the raw file either. It creates an RGB copy and you could not even overwrite the raw file with that if you wanted to.
-- Johan W. Elzenga

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New Here ,
Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2017

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Yes, I use Photoshop adjustment layers, filters, etc often when I'm working on an image.  Non-destructive editing is great.  But I also like the option of saving a jpeg instead of the psd file.  I'm highly in favor of non-destructive editing, but I'd like the option to not use it in certain circumstances in LR.  Now I often go from LR directly to PS applying edits to a copy, do something like add a bit of text (a feature mysteriously missing from LR), save a jpeg, return to LR and synchronize folders to get it into LR.   This is only clumsily reversible even if saved as a psd file.   Sorry for a bit of a rant on the awkward interface between LR and PS.  Appreciate the constructive suggestion about using PS non-destructively.

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