Much has been made in the recent past about the importance of “non-destructive” image editing; making sure that an original image is not permanently modified resulting in an unfortunate point of no return after closing a file. Keep in mind, when working in Photoshop – with all pixel editing applications – once you commit a series of changes to an original file and then close, your original is permanently transformed into something altogether new. Your original is gone forever.

Better, if you choose to produce image changes within Lightroom, Camera Raw, Aperture or another “raw file editor” you have the ability to substantially alter or enhance an original photograph without the fear of somehow destroying the original master file. This is because transformative changes are here written into metadata, a sort of under-the-hood formula computers use to render those changes we made earlier for us to see on screen. In fact, Lightroom and Aperture both are able to create stand-alone copies of that original photo, a “virtual copy” or “version” deriving from the original master file. Then when we export these derivative files to Photoshop for additional refinement the original is still safe. No harm will come to it.

So many times in the past I have wanted to make subtle or even dramatic changes to work I affected by any one of the Nik suite of enhancement plugins and then saved to my archive of images.

Without the workflow I have decided upon and outlined here I would be out of luck making those modifications in the future.

I cannot overstate the importance of taking your time while evolving images. Sleep on your day’s work if you have that luxury. Consider again the following day with a fresh perspective and I guarantee you will see something you hadn’t noticed the day before. You will likely want another go at making your “finished” image what best represents your vision, yourself.

“Remarkable” is not achieved with a single click of the mouse. Plugins and Presets are simply a catalyst, a starting point to fully realizing your vision whether you work with a conscious plan in mind or place trust in serendipity.