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Photoshop CS Tutorial - RAW workflow




Digital Darkroom Raw Workflow using the Photoshop CS File Browser

I always shoot raw images on my Canon Digital SLR cameras. I find this gives the maximum in image quality as no "lossy" compression system (such as jpeg) has been used - also, it gives the potential to correct white balance, exposure, high-iso noise in the shadow areas on the raw data before it is converted for opening in Photoshop. I discuss raw conversion in another tutorial.

So what is meant by digital workflow ?

The process of getting the raw images from the camera or card reader onto the computer, saving them into files, selecting which ones to keep and which to delete, processing them into TIFF files, editing, naming, saving and back-up etc are all parts of the digital workflow.

In this tutorial I will cover the workflow stages up to raw conversion. The next and final stages in the workflow are covered in the raw conversion tutorial.

So let's get started...

To get your images onto the computer, use a USB2 or Firewire CF card reader such as a Lexar ( much faster than USB 1 , but your computer must be fitted with USB 2 ports or a firewire card to benefit) Don't plug the camera into your computer as often suggested by the camera manufacturer - use the card reader - it will work much quicker. You will need to copy the images to a named file on your computer hard drive. I do this in the Photoshop CS file browser, which you will first need to configure as follows:

Open Photoshop CS and click on the icon with a file plus magnifying glass beside it (near top right of the screen) to switch on the File Browser. Below is a screen grab of the way I have set up my file browser for a set of images that were already uploaded.



I have arranged the frames so that the image thumbnails (large) are on the right of the screen, the useful Preview/Metadata/Folders tabs are all gathered onto one tab (by dragging and dropping them) and that leaves me with the maximum size preview window possible. Click on a thumbnail once and provided you have the preview tab selected, you will instantly see a big, high-resolution image which is great for evaluation purposes.

Now, back to uploading your images from the CF card .... In the File browser, click on the folders tab and the familiar file structure on your computer will appear. Scroll down until you see your card reader listed (e.g. as "Card Reader drive E:" or whatever ) click on the various sub-folders etc until you arrive at the folder where your pictures reside, and the thumbnails will start to load. Give all the images on the card time to load completely, then create a new folder with a memorable name to put them into. I file my images as d:/photos/year/x . "x" could be "mammals" or a date etc - use whatever you like as long as you can find them again.

In the File browser window, select edit/select all, and the thumbnails will be highlighted (change to a grey border). Next scroll the list of files down until you come to the destination folder that you created (You may have to click view/refresh before you can see your new file in the list).
Now go to the thumbnails and drag and drop any highlighted image across onto the desired folder. All the images on the card will now be copied across into the file.

You are now in the happy state of having each image in two places - one on the CF card and the
other on your computer , which is great security as you have a temporary backup at this stage.
(You can reformat the CF card back in your camera when you you eventually back up your computer hard disk at the end of the work session - I use an external Maxtor 300 Gb disc for this purpose, which I unplug it from the main computer for added security).

Next step in the workflow is to select which images you want to keep. I am very ruthless at this stage, as I don't want to clog-up the computer hard disk with countless images.

In the filebrowser toolbar you will see a flag icon we will use this to mark images we wish to keep. With the preview tab selected, click on (highlight) the first image thumbnail and the large preview image will appear. If you want to keep it click the flag icon - and a flag will appear underneath the thumbnail. Work your way through the images until you have flagged all the ones you wish to keep.
In the filebrowser window, click View/unflagged files. You will now see all the files that you are now about to delete. If you change your mind and there are any you would like to keep, flag them and they will disappear to join all the other flagged files.
Click edit/select/all and then hit delete on your keyboard, and all the unwanted files will vanish to the recycle bin (from where you can still restore them if you made a mistake).
You now need to return to View/flagged files and only the images you wish to keep will remain.

The next stage in the workflow is raw conversion - which is dealt with in the next tutorial .


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