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Color Efex Pro 4: where in workflow?

Raymond Palmer , Mar 14, 2012; 06:29 p.m.

For those of you who use it, where in the workflow do you put Color Efex Pro 4? I have CS 5 & Lightroom 3.6. If I open it in LR, the places I cloned dust spots out of show through. If I export the file from LR, & open it in CS5, the same thing happens , even if I open it as the first step before doing any other adjustments.
I've also tried doing adjustments (Threshold to determine black point, any Levels, Curves, gradients, dodging & burning etc) that I normally do, then do CEP4, and I still the same thing--it's as though it may be deleting previous layers. Even if I merge the layers I get the same thing, but really it's counterproductive to flatten or merge and lose my layer history on the master file. Anyone else experienced this? or am I missing a step that makes this happen?


Randall Farhy , Mar 14, 2012; 07:10 p.m.

Are you saving it as a tiff from LR? With Photoshop, you may have to flatten> "save as" a TIFF (leaving original file as layer file to that point)>Efex. If it's like Topaz, you can the open the tiff in Photoshop and use layers to adjust from there.

Raymond Palmer , Mar 14, 2012; 07:40 p.m.

There's nothing to flatten if I'm opening it as soon as I go into CS5. I tried just changing it to a TIFF file, then reopening, but I get the same effect. So, if it's letting all the clone changes I did in LR show through, is it affecting the exposure/recovery/clarity etc adjustments I do there too?

Randall Farhy , Mar 14, 2012; 11:00 p.m.

Not sure, as my workflow is different when I use Topaz. I do my plugin work first. LR is for final tweaks and exporting. Should've included this in the first post-
Neutral RAW (Color blur and some CA controls when needed) converted to TIFF.
Tiff>Noise reduction >Topaz> Flatten>LR>Export File.
I save the Noise reduction step as a separate file (IMG_# NR Filename.TIFF) so that I can go back to it as a starting point should I decide to process it differently in the future.

Peter Cohen , Mar 14, 2012; 11:44 p.m.

My workflow -- with both Efex and Topaz -- is to make all my LR adjustments first. Then open in PS. I copy that layer and apply the plugin to the copy. It goes back to LR as a PSD, leaving me with the original RAW image with LR adjustments, and a PSD that preserves all the LR adjustments in a separate layer. When the image is done and gone to the client, I delete the PSD, since I keep all my adjustment layers. (Alt-Ctrl-Shft-E (on a PC) will create a new merged layer, which I often do to consolidate several adjustment layers into one, while retaining the adjustment layers for tweaks later on.)

Andrew Rodney , Mar 15, 2012; 11:03 a.m.

Peter’s workflow makes the most sense to me when you consider that in order to use ANY of these third party plug-in’s within Lightroom, LR has to render the raw data to a TIFF. The raw processing at this stage is over and done, you’ve baked that cake. IOW, it makes no difference if you do all the raw, parametric editing in LR and export out a TIFF and apply the plug-in within Photoshop OR do this in LR. The idea behind these LR plug-in’s are for folks that may not own Photoshop. But don’t think that they do their work the same way, with the same engine as the raw processing. They don’t. Draw a line in the sand when you want to move from raw, instruction based processing, using either LR or Adobe Camera Raw and edit pixels (using say Photoshop). Where you apply effects to the pixels at this stage, LR or Photoshop is the same.

Randall Farhy , Mar 15, 2012; 03:54 p.m.

Andrew- Not arguing your points, just clarifying why I've adopted this method.
I use Topaz Denoise5 for everything and it's my understanding that starting with an unsharpened, minimally edited file is best, which is why the early RAW conversion to TIFF (in my case, from Canon's DPP). I've tried using ACR /RAW then>TIFF>Denoise5, but there have always been artifacts present. Photoshop is used for layers, LR for tweaking exposure/ curves/ channels/ spotting and final crop exports.
We still havn't figured out the OP's original issue. :/

Andrew Rodney , Mar 15, 2012; 03:59 p.m.

I’d actually conduct as much tone, color, noise reduction and capture sharpening as possible at the raw stage. It is really fast (because you are just building metadata) and totally non destructive. Plus as the raw processing engines improves (we just saw this with LR4 and PV2012), you can re-render all that into a TIFF and move forward. If you offset this work to a rendered image, you can’t ever improve the raw rendering.

Raymond Palmer , Mar 15, 2012; 06:21 p.m.

We still havn't figured out the OP's original issue. :/
Well, maybe I didn't make myself clear. I am processing a RAW file in LR. I apply changes as Andrew and Peter said, then Ctrl>E edit in PS. Whether I then copy the background layer or not makes no difference, the results are the same if I do CE4 at this point (in PS): the cloning I did in LR shows up on the CE4 processed file. This shouldn't be happening. So it makes me wonder what else I did in LR is ignored at this point. I also tried saving it at the start--IE, the exported file from LR into CS5-- as a PSD into a separate folder, then reopening in CS5, and still got the same result.

Kyle Weems , Mar 21, 2012; 10:14 a.m.

Do the dust spots show up immediately when opening the file in PS? Or is it only after you run the Nik software that they appear? If they show up immediately, it sounds like LR is not exporting the changes you've made properly.

If they don't show up until Nik runs, well.. hmpf. When you say that the cloned areas show up, what do you mean exactly? do you just see where they are, or are they gone completely and the original unedited file shows? Once LR exports the image to PS, that's that.. there is no way for Nik or anything else to undo those changes on the exported file. As far as any software (PS, Nik, etc) is concerned the image that shows up in PS is completely unrelated to any file in LR.. the file in PS is the only information they have to work with.

I'm sure I really have an answer for the problem either way, but at least it'd put us on the right track to figuring it out.

If you could post a couple images it might help a lot to figure out what's going on. Do this.. take a file and do your normal editing/adjustments/cloning. Export that file to a jpg directly from LR (probably want to downsize it for sharing sake). Then take that same file and send it to PS as you've been doing.. do whatever it is that is making the cloned spots show up and save out that file as a jpg (again downsizing is probably a good idea). If you want, you can actually just crop out an area that shows the problem close up at a larger size so it's easier to see.

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