What Is The Best Way To Edit Non-Destructively In Photoshop CC?

We’ve all been there before, spending time editing a photograph and realising that you have caused the image to degrade so much that it just isn’t good enough. This is where the concept of non-destructive editing within Photoshop comes into play as a fantastic way to preserve as much of the quality of the original photograph as possible. No matter the type of product photography you work in, whether fashion or jewellery photography, this guide will make a massive difference.

Adjustment layers

When you open an image within Photoshop, you can add an adjustment layer to allow you to start with non-destructive editing. As the name suggests, it creates a different layer for you to make adjustments on, such as colour balance, exposure levels etc.

This is a fantastic way to get started and help you to learn how to use Photoshop CC in your professional product photography work. These adjustment layers will affect the underlying layers of your image without making any direct changes to them.

Smart Objects and Smart Filters

Should you need to rotate or change the scale of your image, then the most suitable option is to change layers into smart objects. Once more, these help you improve your product photography in a non-destructive way and help you to utilise smart filters as well. The way this is done is by right-clicking on the layer and choosing the convert to smart object option.

The next phase of this particular non-destructive process is using smart filters. If we take jewellery photography as an example, you may have a beautiful shot of a necklace and you wish to add some kind of smart filter. By using smart filters, you can do this to the layer without affecting the underlying image.

Retouch on different layers

One of the easiest processes to complete within Photoshop CC and for anyone working in product photography it is important to learn. Retouching in a non-destructive way will work with both a raster layer or smart object, by selecting one of the many tools (e.g. spot healing brush tool).

You can now spend time retouching your chosen images as much as you like, trying different styles and techniques without causing damage to the underlying layer. You can also make changes or revert back to previous versions without any impact.

Edit with Adobe Camera Raw

You will often read articles about working with raw files, but Adobe Camera Raw will also work with standard JPEGs and other file types. This is one of the truly powerful tools developed by Adobe that allow for non-destructive editing of product photography.

The method behind this process is that when you make changes, it will save them as a separate file so that the original file is left in its original raw state.

Non-destructive cropping

A very simple feature but one that will save hours of frustration and stress for anyone editing images, particularly if you work with highly detailed subjects such as jewellery photography. If you untick the ‘delete cropped pixel’ option then you will be able to hide cropped pixels in a non-destructive way, as opposed to deleting them entirely.

A seemingly minor feature but one that everyone finds useful.