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Photoshop CS2 Tutorial - RAW workflow

Photoshop CS2 brought major improvements to both the resultant image quality and the RAW workflow process over it's predecessor.

The introduction of "Bridge" which replaces the "File Browser" is the most significant change. Bridge is now a separate programme from Photoshop itself and enables you to work on RAW images and
get them opening or batch-processed in the background while working in Photoshop. The speed
at which the computer works while this is happening depends on how powerful the processor
is in your computer. Bridge also enables you to design the work area layout in many different ways to suit your taste. It also introduces the ability to carry out cropping and curves adjustments that
previously had to be done in Photoshop. It is now possible to carry out all stages in the workflow in Bridge right up to conversion and saving as a TIFF file.

I now find that I usually only need to open Photoshop to resize and sharpen my images or use
the healing brush or clone tool to remove dust spots. For photographers, Bridge is becoming the main part of Photoshop, and Photoshop itself is behaving more like a plug-in !

In the following tutorial I will explain how to use Bridge to view images on a simulated light box,
make selections of images and score them using the slideshow, to carry out batch processes such as as renaming files, carrying out batch RAW conversions, cropping and finally saving in the new dng (digital negative group) format.

I have not described how to make image adjustments as these are the same as I have already described in the CS tutorial : Raw conversion in Photoshop CS
I have only included information on the areas where CS2 differs from CS.

Photoshop CS2 lgo

Lets get going then....

1.0 Copy your images from the card reader into a named folder on your computer. Open Bridge by clicking the go to Bridge icon at the top of the screen. (A magnifying glass beside a folder).
Browse for your new image folder using the Folders tab. It is advisable to give the images time to fully load before starting to covert them. However if you really can't wait to process a single favorite image you can click on it and it will open in the Raw processor.

The quickest way to create a new folder and then copy files from a card reader into it is by using Windows Explorer. If you want to do this and view thumbnails of the raw images you will need to download the latest version of Microsoft's raw image viewer.

In my example I have copied a series of images into a sub folder called "Goldfinch raws" within a folder called "Goldfinch"

I have selected View>As thumbnails from the top toolbar. I have also dragged the frame to see a nice light box of thumbnails. Finally, using the slider at the bottom of the screen I have adjusted the thumbnails to be a reasonable size for viewing.

2.0 Image evaluation slideshow

The next stage is to evaluate the images and assign a rating score to each . Start by going to View>Slide show. The first image will be displayed along with it's filename, date and time.
Notice that you have a wonderful, big full-screen image in which to evaluate your images which loads fast.

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Press key "H" to close the slideshow help/options dialogue box. To start an automatic slideshow you can
press the spacebar, but don't do this as we want to move manually through the images one by one to
evaluate them and rate them. By pressing the "D" key you can change the display size on the screen - I use "Scale to fit" . By pressing the "C" key you can change the caption format. I find that "full" is most useful as it displays the star ratings. Alternatively, if you choose "caption off" you get a nice clean slideshow without any words etc appearing over the image.

Using your right hand, use the left and right keyboard keys to move through the images. Use your left hand to press the comma (,) and full stop (.) keys. Each press of the full stop advances the score (star rating) of your image by one. Each press of the comma key reduces the score by one. Alternatively, you can just enter a number between 1 and 5.

In the example below, I rated this image 3 stars. Junk would get no stars, and other images would be rated accordingly.

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3.0 Dealing with rated and unrated images

When you have been through all your images, the slideshow will cease and you will be returned to Bridge. (If not, press escape to end).

The next step is to select the small down arrow beside the "unfiltered" box at the top right of your screen.
I now select "show unrated items". Only images without a rating should appear. Select them all by clicking Edit>Select Unlabelled. Then hit delete to remove them. (If you make a mistake, you can retrieve them from the recycle bin).

Next, you can go back to the "unfiltered" box and select "Show 1 or more stars". All the remaining images will appear. You can either run another slide show and modify the ratings and delete more unwanted images, or you can delete low ranking images or keep everything if you prefer.

4.0 Batch commands

4.1 Batch rename. (Optional step)

The next step is to use the power of the batch commands to rename all the retained images if you wish. You can either do this now, or later when you save the images. The filenames coming out of the camera are a meaningless string of letters and numbers - how much nicer to call them something that means something to you.

Select the images you wish to rename (Edit > Select all or click on an individual thumbnail , or click on a series of images whilst holding down the Ctrl key.)

Go to Tools > Batch Rename and a new dialogue box will open. In my example, I selected text and called the images goldfinch plus the date. Click "Rename" and the computer will assign the new filename to every image selected and add a suffix 1, 2 etc after the name. If you click the small + button a new window will appear which enables you to add a variety of suffixes such as dates and sequence numbers etc - whatever you prefer.

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4.2 Batch descriptions, copyright, keywords etc. (Optional step)

The next step is aimed more at the professional user as it enables you to add document titles, author, copyright info, keywords etc and embed it electronically into the image. You can check any image on the web at a later stage and check the author and copyright by going into File > File Info.

Go to File> File Info and under Description you can add as much data as you like. The down arrow beside each box enables selections to be made from previous phrases rather than having to retype them.

To get the copyright symbol © on a PC keyboard, hold down the Alt key and type "0169" on the numeric keypad (on the right of your keyboard - not the numbers above the letters on the keyboard )

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5.0 Raw Processing

Next we come to the RAW processing step. You can either double-click on an individual in Bridge, or select a number (or all) images for batch conversion. If your images are all very different and have been taken in different lighting situations, you may choose to process them individually. However, if the images are pretty similar (as my goldfinches are) then you can save an enormous amount of time by carrying out batch conversions. I will cover a batch conversion here.

Select more than one image and then go to File > Open in camera RAW. You will notice that the first image has opened in the big preview window, but the other selected images have also loaded as thumbnails down the left of the screen.
You can now work in one of two ways, you can either click "select all" so that all the changes you make apply to all selected images or, you can make changes to one image and then click "synchronize all" to apply the changes to all selected images. I prefer to use the second option as it gives the option to apply some or all the changes made. If you decided to crop the image, you might not want to apply this universally. Click ok to synchronize all the chosen options.

In the example below, I have selected the first image and chosen to crop it using the crop tool. Notice that under crop size, the remaining number of megapixels selected appears. It is also easy to straighten a sloping horizon using the new straighten tool at this time.

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Another new feature to CS2 is the Auto boxes for Exposure, Shadows, Brightness, Contrast and Saturation. You can override these if you don't like the auto selections offered, but they are usually a good starting point to work from at least. This speeds up conversions compared to CS.

I will not duplicate how to use all the sliders in Adjust/Detail/Lens/Calibrate as these are covered in Raw conversion in Photoshop CS. However, the Curves Tab is new to CS, so lets take a look at this.

It is worth ticking the shadows and highlight warning boxes as these indicate clipping at each end of the
tonal range. In the image of the goldfinches, you can see some highlight clipping (red) and some shadow clipping (blue). This is a high dynamic range image and the camera is not capable of capturing the full range. The human eye is more efficient!
Another way of working is to deselect the shadows and highlights boxes, and instead, hold down the "Alt" key while adjusting the exposure and shadows sliders. Only the clipped parts of the image will be displayed. You can then adjust the sliders to just eliminate clipping or allow a little clipping if it occurs in unimportant areas of the image (specular highlight reflections on water for example).

6.0 Curves tab

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The Curves tab offers a simple and advanced way of tweaking the contrast in the shadows, mid-tones and highlights in the image. By including this control, it negates the need to post-process in levels or curves within photoshop itself.

By clicking the down arrow beside the Tone Curves box, the options to select Linear, medium, strong and custom contrasts appear. I usually find that one of the choices offered does the trick in providing a bit of extra punch to the image. If not, tweaking the graph by clicking on it and altering it's shape gives infinite control.

7.0 Opening and saving processed RAWS

There are times when I just want to open the image in Photoshop and take a look at it, play with it or whatever, and the RAW converter gives the option to "Open x images"

Usually I will want to save my converted images, so I will then click "save x images" . The following dialogue box then appears.

You can "Select folder" to browse to the folder in which you wish to save your images. Under "File handling" you get another chance to save your images under a different filename. You actually have more options here than in the Batch rename option covered earlier.

Finally, you have the option of saving the file as a .dng extension with the format of Digital Negative.
I always save in this way.

Manufacturers have different and incompatible raw files, e.g. Nikon have nef and Canon has crw. Even within one manufacturer there are different formats , Canon's earlier cameras use crw and newer models use crw2 file formats. In order to standardize, Adobe has come up with the Digital Negative Group (dng) format. It makes sense to save your files now as a .dng for future proofing your images.

Click Save, and you are done.

However, what you have done is apply (reversible but stored ) corrections to the RAW image and saved it as a .dng file. In order to create a TIFF file which can be used for printing, resizing etc, you will still need to carry out a RAW (To TIFF) conversion.

To do this, select all your images again in the RAW converter and select Save again. This time select a file extension of TIF and save in a different folder. In my case , I chose to save my RAWS in the sub folder of "Goldfinch" called "Goldfinch Raws" and my converted TIFF files in the main "Goldfinch" folder. That way I have a RAW file that I can go back to plus a converted file for general use.

As the old .crw RAW's are no longer required, I then delete them to prevent unnecessary raw file duplication.

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