Introduction

RAW Power

I get really excited when I talk about the unprocessed RAW data generated by digital cameras. RAW data is the holy grail of digital photography, and you don’t need to be a professional photographer to appreciate its potential—you just need a digital camera that saves the RAW data, a computer, Photoshop CS2, and, of course, this book! The fact is, anyone who is serious about digital photography and wants to produce the best possible picture will benefit from shooting and processing RAW.

If you shoot RAW, use Photoshop CS2, and want great images, this book is for you!

RAW is often described as a digital negative. The negative in traditional photography is considered the underlying source from which any number of prints (or interpretations) can be produced. You can take a negative to the corner drugstore and get a decent (but uninspired) print, or you can take the same negative into a darkroom and apply skill and tender loving care to produce something remarkable.

The same holds true for RAW files. You can let your digital camera interpret the RAW data and produce a JPEG or TIFF, or you can do the work yourself.

If you do it yourself, the payoffs are great:

  • Non-destructive and complete control over white balance and color tint

  • Dramatic control over tonal distribution

  • Reversible sharpening and detail application

  • Full advantage of future improvements in colormetric conversion technology

Having said all this, RAW—and consequently this book—is not for everyone. Not only do you need a digital camera that saves and captures RAW, but you need a powerful computer with lots of storage. Even though you can automate RAW conversion to a certain degree, time is a consideration. The RAW data must be touched, molded, and shaped before it takes form. It takes skill to do this right, and that is where this book comes in.

RAW & Photoshop CS2 Centric

This book is both RAW-and Photoshop CS2-centric. When I say RAW, I’m talking about the unadulterated data that comes from a digital camera. When I say Photoshop CS2, I’m actually talking about three separate working environments: Bridge, Camera Raw, and Photoshop. All three of these components ship under the product name Photoshop CS2 and together, they’ll take you just about anywhere you want to go with your RAW data.

Bridge is a central organizer for your images, the command center for Adobe’s Creative Suite, and a gateway to either Camera Raw or Photoshop.
Figure I-1. Bridge is a central organizer for your images, the command center for Adobe’s Creative Suite, and a gateway to either Camera Raw or Photoshop.
Camera Raw is the primary RAW processing application that launches from either Bridge or Photoshop.
Figure I-2. Camera Raw is the primary RAW processing application that launches from either Bridge or Photoshop.
Photoshop…well, Photoshop is Photoshop, the world-class image editing and processing application. In this familiar environment, you can apply localized editing and processing to your converted RAW images and do whatever else is necessary to take them to their final, perfect form.
Figure I-3. Photoshop…well, Photoshop is Photoshop, the world-class image editing and processing application. In this familiar environment, you can apply localized editing and processing to your converted RAW images and do whatever else is necessary to take them to their final, perfect form.

Platform Differences

Photoshop CS2 runs equally well on both the Mac and PC platforms. There is very little difference between the two. I work on a Mac, but I’ve made every possible effort to make this a PC-friendly book as well. When keyboard commands differ between platforms, I’ve noted the differences. I’ve also adopted the right-click shortcut to replace the keyboard Ctrl-/click command. This action—which often brings up a contextual menu—is long familiar to PC users, and most new Mac mice now operate similarly.

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