Photoshop and Lightroom: Has your workflow changed?

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: July 11, 2013

Category: General

Hi Folks,

Hope you’re having a good week.

Today I just wanted to pick your brains if I may…all in the name of research you understand 🙂

Ok so Lightroom 5 has been out for a short while now and more recently the release of the new Creative Cloud Apps i.e. Photoshop CC etc…

Now I know there are going to be folks who haven’t (and won’t) upgrade for all kinds of reasons and that’s fine so can I just ask that you excuse me as I direct this post towards the folks that have and will (Geez I hope that makes sense)

Anyway, getting to the point…

Those of you who have been along to some of my more recent training sessions/workshops or maybe have caught some episodes of my new Photography, Photoshop and Lightroom video podcast [Link] may well have noticed some changes.

You see my workflow has, I think, changed considerably over the last couple of months. One way in particular is how I’m integrating Lightroom much more into the beginning of my workflow and whereas before I tended to use it as more of an expensive cataloguing utility, now with Lightroom 5 I’m finding I can do so much more BEFORE heading over to Photoshop…and I’m loving that.

I’m finding my workflow has become a lot more streamlined which in turn is meaning that  I can get to the really creative side of the retouching process so much quicker.

But that being said I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with effects in Lightroom and Camera RAW and I have to admit I’m really enjoying it…as always.

Here’s an example of having just played around in Lightroom to create lighting effects; sure it’s not perfect but I think the possibilities here are very exciting:

Smart Object are playing a much bigger role in my retouching workflow now; it’s not that they didn’t before but now with Photoshop CC we have the Camera RAW filter and that in my opinion is HUGE. Maybe a lot of people haven’t quite grasped how big a deal it is that we can use Camera RAW as a Smart Filter but this I think is what has been instrumental in my workflow changing for the better.

So, if you don’t mind I have just a couple of questions for you:

  1. How (if at all) has your workflow changed in the last few weeks/months?
  2. Do you use Lightroom on it’s own or do you use it as part of your workflow in addition to Photoshop?
  3. Do you use Smart Objects?

If you could take a few moments to answer the 3 questions I’d really appreciate it and I’ll let you know why in the near future.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


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  1. J.R. Maddox

    1. It has changed so much that I dont even have a steady work flow in lightroom as of yet. Watching your tutorials has help give me new ideas to a workflow. It has always been like you said an expensive cataloging utility.
    2. I use Lightroom as my first tool. Then its off to Photoshop CC.

    3. Im just going to give this a BIG FAT YEAH! Its the only way to fly. I used them with CS5 but not as much as I do with CC.

  2. David

    I find I am using Photoshop less with the release of Lightroom 5. I used to have to dip in to PS for better correction / repair but LR5 has definitely reduced this. I don’t use smart object (yet).

  3. Tony Mearman

    Hi Glyn
    1) I’m using LR5 for most of my workflow now and love the new radial filter and improved spot removal tool. I’m a big fan of Nik and Topaz plugins which I can also access through LR.

    2) I tend to go into CS6 only when doing composites or if I have more challenging retouching that benefit from its selection tools. I’ve decided not to invest in CC for the above reasons.

    3) I do occasionally use smart objects/ smart filters but often get frustrated when I’m forced into rasterizing a particular layer.


  4. Jerry Hughes

    I am doing more in Camera Raw (LR5 Develop Engine). I love the radial filter. Talk about a great way to make a vignette.

    But my favorite addition with Photoshop CC is the ability to use Camera Raw as a smart filter. I do not know how I functioned without it.

    I try to use smart objects and filters as much as possible and having the ability to use Camera Raw as a smart filter is keeping my work non destructive longer.

    Sorry CC haters, I love the new setup.

  5. Kevin Sharpe

    1. Yes I do a little more now in ACR before I take it to PS

    2. I haven’t go Lightroom, so use to ACR and is it really worth buying for the difference?

    3. I use smart objects much more now than I use to.

    Have a great day, look forward to seeing you at Brighton!

    Cheers Kev

  6. Chris Rowe

    1. Hasn’t changed that much – I basically live in Lightroom anyway when it comes to photography. The new healing brush in LR5 has allowed me to avoid the round trip into PS CS6 a few times recently but it’s not a huge difference.
    2. As far a using LR5/PS CS6 for photography I use PS primarily when I have to do composites, fix issues that the healing brush can’t cope with in LR or if I’m working on a particularly special image. Otherwise it’s LR. No real intention of upgrading to CC as the last killer feature in PS for me was content aware scaling (CA fill – useful once in a while but I could live without it). Use LR for all photo printing especially on large format. Couldn’t live without LR – I could live with any version of PS after about CS4.
    3. I use smart objects quite a bit especially for composites/montages and when I don’t the final size for a layer in PS. I find them massively useful, just wish I never had to rasterise them (yes I know – don’t hold your breath!).

  7. Stephen Maitland

    The bulk of my work is now in LR especially ‘out of camera’ shots that are retouched, rebalanced and spot fixed. I find I’m using PS when I want to create something that wasn’t there in the first place or use the shot as just a part of the final image. I think the separation between LR and PS makes much more sense now.
    As for CC, I’ve had Adobe through subscription for the last couple of years anyway so for me, it was a natural progression. I’m from an I.T. background and most development software is through subscription now so I’m not surprised Adobe followed this route. (Of course most of my recent PS skills are down to watching your great videos and pod casts!)

  8. Barry Paffey

    1) I am gradually beginning to realise just how much more is possible in LR5 and like you I am doing much more than I was a few months ago.
    2) I use LR for about 70% of my workflow and Photoshop for the remainder.
    3) I’m not a specialist retoucher so although I am fully aware of smart objects I do not often use them.

  9. Frank

    1. Workflow hasn’t changed at all. Most, if not all, of my workflow is Lightroom centric, even more so since I installed LR5.

    2. I do most of my image editing in LR first, then take it to PS next, when needed. I also use the onOne suite of products occasionally too, again, when needed.

    3. As a relative Photoshop newbie, I never knew about smart objects until I started watching yours & Calvin’s tutorials. Now I used them all the time.

  10. Darren House

    1. Yes my workflow has changed not only have I transferred from Aperture to Lightroom just as LR5 Came out with so many new features to learn and play with.
    2. Currently I would say I mainly use LR as an expensive catalogue because this is what I am used to from Aperture days. I have been playing around with brushes and gradients on none composite work. But when it comes to them I jump nearly straight out of LR.
    3. Smart Objects are a must. Love them they keep workflow fast, adaptable and tidy.

    But with CC and LR5 there are so many things to play with composites are now taking longs for the want of playing around. Also my workflow hasn’t settled down.

  11. Alexandra

    Hey Glyn,

    Sort off…but not all that much.

    I still import my photos (at their location) into LR5
    However, after I am done deleting those I don’t want to keep for whatever reason, I still mass edit white balance if needed, and some other stuff, and then open selected files in Photoshop and stay there quite a bit. That is PSCS6. I cancelled the cloud because I found that I was still using pretty much the same features. I am really not a fan of Camera RAW.

  12. Alexandra

    To the point now….

    1) How (if at all) has your workflow changed in the last few weeks/months? Not all that much.

    2) Do you use Lightroom on it’s own or do you use it as part of your workflow in addition to Photoshop? Not on its own. Always together with PS.

    3) Do you use Smart Objects? YES; more and more.

  13. Mike Rodriguez

    Hi Glyn-

    I appreciate and enjoy your work, tutorials, etc.!

    1. Workflow has been pretty constant for several months. Haven’t yet installed Lr5…waiting for a few rumored bugs to be worked out (NR and output sharpening)

    2. Lightroom is a large part of my workflow. Do a lot of the processing in Lr before jumping to Photoshop (depending on the image, sometimes all of it).

    3. I use Smart Objects a lot in Ps. Saw them demo’d back when they came out (CS3, was it?) and thought they were great. Been using them ever since.

  14. Dan Davies

    Hey Glyn, good to see you keeping well!

    * LR4 changed my editing more than LR5, with the shadows & highlight recovery a major boon for a wedding photographer working in the changing conditions of an English summer!
    * LR5 has the potential to make further changes for me, but it’s not quite there yet – it’s still quicker for me to reduce wrinkles etc in Photoshop than it is to zoom in, set a lower opacity, select the laughter line, then frequently correct the poor selection for cloning/healing from that Lightroom selects.
    * LR5 is still really slow at moving from image to image, compared to applications like Photomechanic or FastPicture Viewer, so I use one of these to do my initial cull before importing into LR
    * I don’t use smart objects as much as I think I probably should (certainly if you watch a Kelby podcast you’ll think you should!) Given maybe 800 images from a wedding to work through, most of my editing is 30 seconds – 5 minutes per image, so I don’t really get complex enough to warrant smart objects. When I do more complex editing (personal projects etc) then I should use them more, but I’m not in the habit!



  15. Iain Munro

    Hi Glyn

    Thanks for the opportunity to provide some feedback.

    Yes my workflow has changed. I am using LR more than PS now and yes I use smart objects.

    While I m on, will you be doing a tutorial in how you did the light in the image above using LR ?


  16. Roger Walton

    How (if at all) has your workflow changed in the last few weeks/months? The additions to LR – particularly perspective correction in lens distortion

    Do you use Lightroom on it’s own or do you use it as part of your workflow in addition to Photoshop? LR is, and has been for a long time, my preferred option – only using PS when I must

    Do you use Smart Objects? yes – they’ve made PS much more flexible.



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