Editor’s Note: Don’t miss this week’s free event on when to jump from Lightroom to Photoshop.

Lightroom is a very powerful non-destructive editing program that has turned the old fashion darkroom digital. It was created for photographers to not only edit images, but to tackle the daunting task of keeping their digital photos organized. As a photographer, Im able to perform about 95% of my edits inside Lightroom. When I need to alter a raw image add clouds to a dull sky Lightrooms Edit in feature allows me to choose which program I want to hand my raw photo off to with my Lightroom changes. When I save my image, it will appear in my Lightroom catalog as a new image along side my original raw image. Pretty cool, but this next part is even cooler.

The What to Edit dialog box contains 3 options;

  • Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments
  • Edit a Copy
  • Edit Original.

These options will only appear when you select Edit in on an image that is not a RAW file such as jpg, tiff, or psd. Lets explore each option using Photoshop as the Edit in program and this example to see how each option affects the final image.

We used Lightroom to make simple exposure adjustments to a RAW file. Wanting to apply advanced skin retouching, we right click on the image and select Edit in and choose Photoshop. Once we make the changes, we save the image as a psd to keep the layers. When we return back to Lightroom, we see a new psd image alongside our original RAW image.

Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments

Applies any Lightroom adjustments youve made to a copy of the file and sends that file to an external program such as Photoshop for editing.

The client my beautiful cousin Angelique loves the image but also wants the same image as an 8×10 Black and White portrait. After we crop the image, right click on the image and select Edit in and choose Photoshop. The What to Edit dialog box appears, choose Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments. Our new cropped image appears as a new file in Photoshop without any layers. Convert the image to Black and White and save. The new psd file appears in Lightroom with the Black and White changes. Angelique now has two images, an 8×10 of the first edited image and the new 8×10 Black and White image.

Edit a Copy

Edits a copy of the original file without Lightroom adjustments.

Angelique wants a copy of the original landscape image before we cropped it to an 8×10. If we choose to edit a copy of the image, the crop we applied in Lightroom will not be seen in a Photoshop. The layers will still be visible. At this point, we are dealing with a new file that retained the Photoshop edits we made. Hiding the Black and White layer will restore the image back to the original color image. Once the image is saved, Photoshop adds a number to the filename indicating it was copied from another file. The full landscaped image appears back in Lightroom. We can make independent changes to either the original file or the new file without it affecting either one.

Edit Original

Edits the original file without Lightroom adjustments.

Angelique loves the original image cropped as an 8×10. Before we deliver the final image, we decide to apply a soft glow filter from NIK Effects. If we choose to edit the original image, the full landscape image opens in Photoshop along with the layers we created. We apply the NIK filter and save the image. When we view it in Lightroom, the new changes are seen with the 8×10 crop we applied in Lightroom. This feature is powerful when we create virtual copies of the main image. Imagine if we created 3 different crops of the original image. When we make a change to the main image using Edit Original, any virtual copies we created are updated with the new changes. By now you should be shaking your head saying yeah, thats cool!