When to use Photoshop.
Whereas Lightroom is focused on organizing and processing photos, Photoshop ventures into image manipulation, creation, and enhancement. Photoshop is the best choice for images where you want pixel-level perfection. Photo retouchers, fine artists, or compositing artists may start in Lightroom but will ultimately rely on Photoshop to do the bulk of the transformation. One way to think about it is that Lightroom stays true to photography, while Photoshop lets you create the images in your mind’s eye.
Photoshop features editing tools aimed at altering the look and content of a photo to a much greater degree than Lightroom. You can remove distracting objects with Content-Aware technology or combine multiple photos for a composite, creating surreal or photo-real images from multiple photos. Graphic designers can combine images with text and vector graphics, while illustrators can reimagine photos to make an entirely new creation. Photoshop filters, layers, masking, and transform controls are the basic building blocks for editing images.
Like non-destructive Lightroom workflows, you can work in a non-destructive manner in Photoshop by taking advantage of Layers and Smart Objects. Build upon your image using layers and layer masking, which you can adjust and refine, knowing that the layers contain your image's original information.
You might have a layer for your color or white balance adjustment, a layer with a moody sky, a layer with a blue sky, and so on, all stacked on top of your original image. Layers can present a learning curve compared to Lightroom’s universal adjustment sliders, but they are excellent for managing post-production work.
Put them together for a dynamic duo.
Knowing the differences between Lightroom and Photoshop will help you pick the best image editor for a given project, but in many cases, it’s not an either-or decision. The two are designed to work seamlessly with each other. You can process a photo in Lightroom and then press command E or control E to pass it off to Photoshop, where you can fine-tune it.
Photoshop and Lightroom are both excellent photo editing software options, but they’re not the only ones out there. Photoshop includes Adobe Bridge, used to manage many file types, and Adobe Camera Raw, which features the same world-class image processing engine as Lightroom. Or you can take your edits completely mobile with Adobe Photoshop Express and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for mobile. Discover all the photography apps included in the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan.
Ultimately, the choice between Lightroom and Photoshop comes down to the goals of your creative projects and your personal preference. Frequently, the answer is to use both. Now that you know the differences between the two, you can design your workflow to create the photos you want. The best way to discover what works for you is to have fun and experiment until you find your perfect editing process.