Question: I’ve been reading about how it’s beneficial to open photos from Camera Raw into Photoshop as Smart Objects and then edit them, rather than opening them in Camera Raw, editing them and then transferring them to Photoshop for further processing. From what I’ve read, if you open the images as Smart Objects in Photoshop and then edit them, the original image isn’t touched at all. All of the data for the edits is contained right in the Photoshop file.
My questions are, is this a good idea and if so, how do I go about doing this?
Answer: Yes, everything you said is true. If you don’t want to have your original photograph touched in any way and you want to preserve it, then you may open it straight from Camera Raw into Photoshop as a Smart Object. Like you said, the benefit is that any connection Camera Raw once had to the image will be severed once you begin editing it via Photoshop. To read more about this process, you can browse through this post on opening an image as a Smart Object in Photoshop. It’s very thorough.
To actually do this, you’ll need to first open your photo in Camera Raw as you normally do. Personally, I use Adobe Bridge to browse my images and then to open them in Camera Raw, but you can use your own process if you wish. Once the image is in Camera Raw, look down to the bottom right corner and find the Open Image button. Keep your eye on that button and then press the Shift key on your keyboard. Pressing the Shift key turns the Open Image button into the Open Object button. Click that button with the Shift key held down.
When you do this, you’ll see that Photoshop opens up and that your image is transferred to it. You’ll also notice that the image layer in Photoshop is a Smart Object. If you double-click that layer thumbnail, your photo will open again in Camera Raw for editing. When you’re finished with your editing and when you want to return to Photoshop, press the OK button. Yes, the Open Image and Open Object buttons have now turned into the OK button. At this point, all edit data will be stored in the Smart Object portion of the Photoshop PSD file. The original image won’t be edited in any way.
I hope this helps.