I just watched yet another tutorial (yes, I do) that suggested I make my base image a “smart image” before using the described technique so it my work will be “non destructive”. Here’s a fact I’ve know for a long time, since I started using Photoshop in 2009. All your work is non destructive UNLESS you save your work in the same place as the same kind of file with the same name.
For example: When I finished work on this image of the Lucky Dog man in Jackson Square I saved it in the same folder but with a different name than the one with which it came from the camera AND it was saved as a Photoshop Document. That creates the suffix “.psd so it will not overwrite the original RAW file.
Remember that the RAW file will show the developing changes I made in Adobe Lightroom but those can be undone by returning the sliders in Lightroom’s Develop module to their neutral positions.
My point? Don’t worry about destroying your original unless you’re working with some kind of “auto save” feature that continues to save your work in exactly the same file, with exactly the same name. You probably already know that you can create a brand new file by just changing or adding or subtracting one character from the file name. So if I’m working on a file named 210110130045.CR2 and I want to be absolutely positively sure that RAW file will remain unchanged in its folder, I’ll resave it as 21011013046.CR2 and work on that file just to be safe.