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Lightroom Classic & Photoshop Integration

Lesson 13 of 14

Use Images in Photoshop when Hard Drive Isn’t Mounted

Ben Willmore

Lightroom Classic & Photoshop Integration

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

13. Use Images in Photoshop when Hard Drive Isn’t Mounted
Learn some special tricks for taking advantage of Smart Previews that will allow you to edit images in Photoshop even when the original image files are not actively available.

Lesson Info

Use Images in Photoshop when Hard Drive Isn’t Mounted

Now let's take a look at how we can really push light room and Photoshop to get them to truly integrate. What I'd like to do here is I want to show you how you can work with our images even when we don't have the originals available. That means the hard drive that contains the original pictures might be left at home. You're traveling with your laptop, and you need to create some complex, layered Photoshop images, but you just don't have the images to work with other than you have your light room catalog file. Let's see how it can be done when you click on an image in light room on the right side of your picture in the develop module just below the history. Graham. There will be some icons. They're here, and it will tell you the status of your image. This image says original photo, and that means it has access to the original photograph. Whatever hard drive it's saved on is currently attached to this computer in light room. Can see that file out there the next image over, though, if I c...

lick on it in the upper right corner of the image I see an exclamation point, which is an indication that this photo is missing. And if I look below the hist a gram on the right side of my screen, it confirms photo is missing. And that means that the hard drive that the original of this picture is on is not currently connected to my computer. And when that's the case, if I come up here an attempt to export this image, Uh, and I say I want any size doesn't matter what I pick here. Because the photo is not available to light room, it doesn't know where the original is. It's not able to export it, regardless of what size I tell it to use. Also, of course, if I go to the photo menu and choose edit in, all these options are grayed out because it needs access to the original picture. To be able to do this stuff, then the image on the right has a different icon on the upper right. It's not an exclamation point. If I click on this one, it says it has a smart preview. A smart preview can be made while the hard drive that contains your originals is still connected to your computer, so this image is still available. I can create a smart view of it. You do that by going to the library, and then you come down here to previews. And there's a choice of build a smart preview. And if you only have one image selected at the time you choose it, it will usually ask you, Do you want to build it for everything in this folder or just that one? I'm going to say just one. It can only build those smart previews when it has access to the original picture. And so this image now, if I look below the history, Graham says, it has both the original available and a smart preview. Well, that's smart. Preview will allow us to do a lot of things. If I click on an image that has a smart preview. This one has only a smart preview. It does not have access to the original picture. Well, if I go to the photo menu and choose edit in, those are still great out. So it looks as if you probably can't edit the picture, but check this out. I can go to the file menu, and I could choose export with preset or export if I want to dial in the settings. But in my case, I'm going to choose export with preset, and I'm going to tell it to export a huge full size JPEG image to my desktop. Remember the original picture for that one it does not have access to. But even though it doesn't have the original picture, it was still able to export it. And that's only because it has a smart preview. If I look my desktop right there is the file. I'm going to open that in Photoshop. But if I head back over to light room and I look at the original size of this picture, if I look on the right side of my screen under metadata, it will tell me the dimensions of the image in pixels. This thing is over 7000 pixels in width, but it has been cropped down quite considerably and you can see cropped. It's about 2700 pixels in the width. Well, let's go over and look in Photoshop, and I'll grab the lower right corner of Photoshop interface and drag it over just so you can see those original dimensions. Then let's look at what it created. When I exported, I told it to export it full size. But when I go to image size, you can see that the width of what it exported is less than 1000 pixels wide. It should be 2784. And that's because the only thing it had available to export from is a smart preview. Now a smart preview is not a full size preview. It's a preview that's exactly 2560 pixels in the widest dimension. And it's a special kind of preview that allows you to also adjust your pictures even when the hard drive that contains the originals isn't available. That means in light room, I can go to the develop module in fine tune that image as much as I'd like. But in this case, it does also allow exporting. But it thinks that the original picture is the size of the smart preview. That means it thinks the widest dimension of this image was exactly 2560 pixels wide. So when I said to export original size, it took that and cropped it just like this image has been cropped. Because if you look in light rooms, numbers, it says dimensions, that's what the camera captured. And then this image has been cropped down to a smaller area. So it cropped the smart preview just as much, and it ended up with something this size. Well, what I'm gonna do is come in here to image size and Photoshop. I'll make sure the re sample check box is turned on, and I'm gonna type in the cropped with I see over here in Photoshop 27 84. Now, with default settings, this little, uh, link symbols usually turned on. I'll turn it on just because most people will have it on and let's type in 27 84. Then let's just confirm that the height is right. I see 38 42 over here. It's 38 41. That could potentially cause an issue. And that's when you turn off that little, uh, link symbol the link symbol. Make sure that if you change the width, the height changes just as much. And here I am trying to get it to exactly match a picture and I just need to bring that down by one pixel. So now the width and height that I have dialed in here in Photoshop precisely match the width and height. The light room says the original cropped version of the picture is and so I'm gonna click. OK, that's going to scale this image up, and the results will look relatively soft. But that's okay. This is enough information to be able to do basic work here in Photoshop. I can easily create adjustment layers to make an area black and white or fine tune the color. I can easily apply filters to this, uh, that kind of thing, but I want to do it in a way where it will update and become higher quality. Once I have access to the original high resolution picture. To accomplish that, I'm going to go to the layer menu. I'm gonna choose smart objects, and I'm going to convert this to a smart object. And that's going to take the contents that layer and put it into this little protective bubble known as a smart object. And now I'm going to limit myself to things that can be done to a smart object. There's quite a bit that can be done. I'll go to the select menu and I'm going to say Select the subject of this photograph, hoping it might be able to select my wife, who's in the photo. I might refine the selection a little bit because I notice it messed up and selected this area so I can grab a lasso tool. Hold the shift key to add add that little part it missed. I could refine this more, but mighty typing the letter Q to go to quick mask because that gives me a red overlay. And I can paint with my paintbrush tool to fine tune any areas that are messed up. So if I paint with white, I could get the red off at that spot, and now you would usually be very careful with this and get this election to be just right. I'm not going to spend the time to do that, though, because I'm just trying to show you a concept right now. I don't think you're going to try to, uh, reproduce exactly what I do to this picture, and I'm not going to save my results out to actually use so I'm not going to spend the time to get it to be just right, but I will refine the most obvious areas. I'll type the letter Q again to turn off Quick mask, and what I would like to do is make the background of this image black and white. So I'll go up to the select menu and choose inverse, and I'm going to use an adjustment layer called black and White. So now we have a black and white background. Next, I'd like to blur the background, so I'd like to get the selection we had last back. Sometimes you can go to the select menu and choose Re select get it back. It looks like I can in this case. Then I'm going to click on the layer that's underneath one that contains the picture, and I'm going to attempt to blur this and I'll just get it up there so it is relatively soft. Click OK, and I'm not gonna do anything more to this image just because I want to save time. But just realize that I've applied filters and I've made adjustments. But now let's say the hard drive that contains my original pictures becomes available and I can plug it into my computer. Well, let's go over the light room and get that to happen. Right now it thinks that this image just as a smart preview, it doesn't have access to the original picture. And the way I created that condition is I actually went on my hard drive. And this is the folder that that image is located in. And I manually change the name of the folder to add not correct at the end and that confused light room because light room in its records thought the photo was in a folder called Photos and by changing the name of the photo or the folder it made, it thinks it's missing when I put it back to the original name of that photo. Now it matches light rooms records. And now, if I go back and look at this picture, it's his original plus smart preview. So now it's as if I plugged that hard drive in that contained the original and let's see how my image can be updated. Well, what I want to do is take this picture and exported at full size. You can do that by choosing export and in the area that talks about re sizing over here image sizing. Just turn off the resize to fit checkbox, and therefore you'll get a full size image, or I'll just use my preset, full sized JPEG to desktop click export. We had done that before, but with a smart preview it out. Put it a smaller file. And so it's just asking and says, Hey, there's already a file of that name and I'll just say Override it because we don't need the low resolution one anymore. Now let's head over to Photoshop and see if we can somehow update this. I'm going to zoom up just to make sure you can tell that this is not finally detailed. I go to 100% view and you can see how bad that detail is. Then I'm going to make sure I'm working on the layer. That is a smart object. That's this one. Here I'll go to the layer of menu, choose smart objects, and there's a place called Replace Contents and that lines let me replace the contents that's actually in that smart object, and I'm going to replace it with our newly exported, high quality version of the picture. When I choose place, everything should update and look at that high quality hair buy. Zoom out. We still have blurriness in the background. We still have a black and white adjustment layer here so I can do a bunch of work. As long as I limit myself to things that can be done to a smart object. The things I can't do are things like retouching, because that needs the really fine detail that is in the image. But filters and adjustment layers will work perfectly fine in those filters will also update. If I were to zoom up on this background that's here, those filter results also update So this area back here, it became higher quality also when we imported that. So I'm gonna do this one more time, But I'm going to show you how you can do it, even if you don't have a smart object. So let's close this file. I don't need to save mine, and I'm gonna head back over to light room and let's work with this image. And just to make sure that light room thinks it's not available, I'm going to change the name of the folder once again. So now that this name doesn't match light rooms records, it thinks that this photo is missing. And with that photo, if I go to the file menu and I choose export with preset and I choose anything here, then it's going to tell me it can't do it because it doesn't have access to the original file, and it doesn't have access to a smart preview, but we can work around that easy. Here's how we're gonna do it. I'm going to press the letter F F stands for full screen mode. That's gonna show me a nice big preview of the picture, and then I'm gonna take a screenshot of it. And it depends on your computer's operating system. As far as what keyboard shortcut you have to press on. A Mac, I think, usually hold down shift and command and then press a number either four or five or six. I don't remember because I have a special utility loaded, uh, that I can customize the keyboard shortcut out, but you could Google how to make keep screenshots in your operating system. If you're not aware of the keyboard, Trica I just want to make sure I don't get any of the black. I only get the image in there and I'll take a screenshot and with my screenshot utility. Once it makes a screenshot, this little thing comes up and I just need to drag an icon to my desktop to save it. But most operating systems. When you take a screenshot, the end result sits on your desktop. Now I'm gonna take that newly created screenshot, and I'm going to open it in Photoshop In Photoshop, I'll go up to the image menu and choose image size, and I want to scale this until it's exactly the size of the cropped original. Well, earlier, I resized my Photoshop screen so I can see over here my light room window at the same time. And I'm just going to type in here for with what it says right here for the crop dimension 6468 And since that little uh, link symbol is turned off, I need to also type in the other number. So 46 58 I'm using the number next to where it says cropped. Click OK, and now this image should be scaled up to the exact same size as the original picture. And now I'm gonna choose layer smart objects, convert smart object. Then let's just do some sort of change to this picture. I'm gonna again try to select subject just to, uh, save time, because I don't want to be precise making selections and taking too much time. It looks like this election is kind of lousy, because I can see a lot of the tile included in it over here, but you'll still get the idea. You just know the selection wasn't very good. So with that selection, I'll select inverse and I'll do an adjustment layer just like before. I'm gonna do black and white just something visually obvious. And just like before, I'm going to get my selection back, and then I'll click on the layer that contains the actual picture. And let's blur the background. This time, we'll use motion blur, and if you find the masks are not precise enough, you can refine them. Just click on the mask paint with black or white to change which areas are visible. I'm not going to spend the time to do that. Now let's say that that hard drive that contains my original picture becomes available. So I'm going to go over here and change the name of the folder back to its original, and that's going to make it so light room can find the image again, whereas you'd usually be disconnecting a hard drive to make it go missing or or not. And now let's go back to light room. Let's take that image. It says in the upper right that it has availability of the original photo, and I'm going to export with preset, and I'm going to say full sized JPEG to desktop. And then I'm gonna come back to Photoshop, and we're going to try the same thing where I go up to the layer menu. You just got to make sure you're working on the layer that contains the picture, go to layer smart objects, and it was replaced contents. But this time we might have an issue. We'll find out here in second, and I'm gonna find the one we just exported right there in his place. Yeah, something's different. Let's assume I owe the picture. Got smaller. That's not good. Well, let's figure out why that happened when We originally told it to export something, and therefore it was generated by a, um, smart preview in the export screen. There's a setting for resolution. And if I were to go and look have done this before, the resolution was set to 240. If I take the image that we got from doing a screenshot and I open it and I look at what is the resolution? The resolution defaults to 72. And because that screenshot had a resolution of 72 this exported image has a resolution of 240 then Photoshop uses those numbers to determine how big should the pixels B. And so we need one more step. So I'm gonna take this image. And just to find out what the resolution setting is, I'll choose image size and you see the number 72. I need the contents of that smart object to also have the same number. So I'm going to come in here and double click on the layer. That is a smart object. I'm going to double click on this little thumbnail that's going to open it in a separate window, and I'm going to come up here to image size and I'm going to see that the number is not 72. In order to get it down to 72 without reducing the amount of information in this file, I need to turn off free sample. Example. If it's off, means leave the same width and height in pixels and just let me change this number, which is how big they would print out. And I'm gonna type in 72. So I had re sample off and I typed in 72 click OK, and now I'm gonna close this smart object. Just click the little X that's here. It'll ask me if I want to save it and I'll say Sure, and it will ask me for options. Uh, JPEG file. I'll just go with the highest quality click. OK, It didn't save it on my hard drive, though. It saved it back into this file and it updated it. So now it's the right size, and so now if I zoom up on her hair, you can see that it's of high quality. It's just my mask. That was terrible quality, and I wish I would have spent a little more time refining. So this last tip was mainly for advanced users. If you're new to light room and new to Photoshop, then skip this until you've had a bit of practice.

Class Description


  • Optimize your settings and explore the multitude of options for round-tripping images between Lightroom and Photoshop.
  • Apply adjustments in Lightroom that are usually only available in Photoshop.
  • Make multiple passes of Lightroom adjustments on layered files while retaining the ability to edit all the layers.
  • Mask an image in Photoshop and then transfer the result to Lightroom in order to preview how it would look on top of images in your catalog.
  • Teach Lightroom to automatically create complex layouts in Photoshop.
  • Work on your Lightroom images in Photoshop even when the originals are not available.
  • Learn tips and tricks to increase productivity.


If you’ve ever sent an image from Adobe Lightroom to Adobe Photoshop and have been confused by the choices of “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments”, “Edit a Copy”, and “Edit Original”, then you’ll love this class from the start. After all, developing clarity on the fundamentals is essential before you can feel comfortable with Lightroom Classic.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll learn that both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom have unique strengths that become dramatically more versatile when they are used together. For instance, Photoshop’s advanced masking and layering capabilities are great when you want to replace a dull and boring sky. But, it’s only when you partner it with Lightroom’s ability to overlay a Photoshop image that you can experiment with various skies and interactively adjust the raw file until it looks like it belongs in the resulting image.

Once you have a solid feel for the strengths and limitations of each program, you’ll learn to push them and combine features to accomplish things you had no idea were even possible. This is Ben Willmore’s special gift: He gets you comfortable by relating the technical aspects to things you already know and use every day, which develops clarity. Then he guides you through real-world projects to help build your confidence before showing you just how far you can push the boundaries so you know what’s possible.

This class will help you:

  • Understand the preferences and choices that control how Photoshop and Lightroom Classic interact
  • Learn under which situation each option makes sense so you can always choose the best option for your images
  • Discover how uncommon features add a lot of functionality once you see concrete examples of their use
  • Eliminate the frustration of having Photoshop images not appear in your Lightroom catalog after editing
  • Understand how to round-trip your images while retaining Photoshop layers and multiple passes of Lightroom adjustments
  • See how Metadata conflicts can cause issues and how to resolve them


  • People who have Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop (not elements) installed and have some familiarity with the absolute basics of both programs.
  • Those who desire clarity, confidence and efficiency based on proven logic.
  • Please who want to develop versatile workflows that go beyond the basics.


Adobe Lightroom Classic (v10.2)

Photoshop (v22.3)

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase


Lightroom Class Catalog and Images

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



Fantastic, clear explanations of these features. i have a much better understanding of how to go back and forth between LR and PS. Thank you Ben. this is must watch class for anyone that uses LR and PS