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Digital Workflow - Part 1
This is the first tutorial in a series that will show you how to apply the proper techniques to convert RAW images to JPG images and enhancing them properly. If your camera supports RAW images, it is highly recommended to use them, but you can use most of the techniques described here with JPG images as well. Below is a list of most obvious advantages of RAW photography:
I will show you how to tackle the RAW conversion in the next part of the Workflow Tutorial. In this part I will talk about Adobe Bridge, that ships with Adobe Photoshop. I use Photoshop for all steps of the process, since I find it the best tool available on the market today for this task. You can also get Adobe Photoshop Elements if you find that the price is too steep for the full version. However it is such a vital and integral part of "making" photos, that I think it is almost as important as choosing the right camera for the job.
After downloading all the images into a folder, you will want to see what you got. The color management on a windows computer is not implemented really well, but the Adobe Photoshop will take care of this. Assuming that your monitor is calibrated (later tutorial) you will want to view the images with a programm that makes use of this calibration data. Alternatively Adobe Gamma (ships with Photoshop) will give you some rough calibration. This is important to remember, since you will otherwise make adjustments based on false information! Adbobe Photoshop ships with an excellent Image Browser for this task, Adobe Bridge. Bridge will show your images using calibration data!
The first 3 pictures on this page show 3 of the many possible ways to configure the view of Adobe Bridge. I usually prefer to work in the Lightroom View (first on this page) with the size of the thumbnails blown up a little bit. This way I can easily judge the pictures and see which ones warrant closer attention. There is a number of preset workspaces (Window -> Workspace) for some of the most common tasks. The second picture shows the Metadata View Plane. Here you can view the EXIF information that your camera recorded and you can enter more data (description of the image ...). Sometimes I take several different shots of a scene and with the Lightroom view I can easily compare them and choose which ones I want to process further. You can start Phtoshop or Adobe Camera RAW from Bridge and you can perform basic operations like rotation. Most important to me are the sorting functions.
You can label pictures and you can rate pictures. In the example above, I am about to label some of the pictures and tell the software that those are parts of a larger panoramic file. In order to do this, I simply give it the label Panorama (a label I defined ealier). I can then instruct the software to show only images that have been labeled as Panoramas or not to show them. Since these files usually take a lot of time to process into a large panorma (Ultra High Resolution Tutorial), I will take care of them later.
Additionally I can give pictures a star rating by clicking on any of the dots below the thumbnails (dot 1 through 5 equals 1 to 5 stars). You can always label and star more than just one image by selecting multiple images (see picture above).
In this image you can see that I labeled a subset of Images as Panorama and I gave them a 4-star rating. I can now sort all my images by star rating, to process those high quality images first. You can also play a slideshow with Adobe Bridge. The tool understands all Adobe Formats (including PDF, Adobe Illustrator ...) all Image formats and a variety of other file formats. It is more than just an Image browser but thats what I use it for most of the time, because quite franky Adobe Bridge is somewhat slow. It requires some processing power, which is not surprising, considering that each of those CR2 images need to be converted somehow for display. Once you make adjustments in Adobe Camera RAW (next tutorial), you will see the thumbnails in Bridge update to reflect those adjustments. Fortunately, none of those are destructive. They are saved in a seperate file.
Bridge is probably one of those applications least understood. The power and flexibility is immense. You can easily take a series of images and combine them into an animated gif. Quite frankly I haven't fully grasped the full functionality, even though I have been working with it for quite a while now.