About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

A Super Quick Photoshop Camera RAW Hidden Feature Tip

A Super Quick Photoshop Camera RAW Hidden Feature Tip

If you ever need to open a RAW file in Photoshop using Camera RAW I recently saw a demo featuring a feature that is sort of hidden, but is really useful. This is possibly a little bit technical, but the tip basically allows you to open a RAW file as a smart object without explicitly choosing the option to open as a smart object.

Here’s what to do.

Step1: Start by opening any RAW file in Photoshop to bring up the Camera RAW dialog.

Step2: At the bottom of the camera raw window click on the text where it says the Colour space and resolution of the image.

Step 3: This will bring up the “Workflow Options” dialog box. At the bottom of this dialog, tick the checkbox that says: Open in Photoshop as Smart Objects. (You can also change the bit depth here too, if you want to open the image as 16bit rather than 8bit)

Step 4: Click ok to close this dialog

Step 5: You will notice the “Open Image” button at the bottom of the Camera RAW window has now changed to “Open Object”

Step 6: Once you make your edits in Camera RAW, click Open Object to open the image in Photoshop as a Smart Object.

You always had the option to open an image as a smart object manually by choosing “Open As Smart Object…” from the file menu, but by enabling this option you will always open raw files as smart objects regardless of how you get them into photoshop, such as dragging and dropping, or sending to Photoshop from another application.

This is now my default option, and I always keep RAW edits as smart objects in Photoshop (unless I need to flatten them for whatever reason) If you’re not familiar with the advantages of this, by opening the image as a smart object, all of your Camera RAW edits remain non-destructive and you can go back in and change them at any time. You can even apply filters on top of the smart object, and still go back and change the original Camera RAW settings to edit again, and any filter applied will update.

I also recommend sending images from Lightroom to Photoshop as smart objects too. That way you retain edibility over the raw part of the file. Of course it depends on what you plan to do, but that’s the way I work, in order to maximise the ability to re-edit a file in the future. In order to send a RAW file from Lightroom to Photoshop as a smart object, in Lightroom right click on an image and choose “Send to Photoshop as Smart Object”.

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