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Preface: Real World Raw > Understanding and Hubris

Understanding and Hubris

It took a great deal of nerve for me to write this book. I confess to being the world's worst photographer, and it takes a certain amount of hubris for me to advise photographers who are hugely more skilled than I am on how to ply their trade. But I've been lucky enough to enjoy a close and fruitful relationship with the wonderful group of people who have made Photoshop the incredibly powerful tool it has become, and in the process I've had the opportunity to look longer and deeper at its inner workings than most people who use it to earn their livelihood.

Some of those inner workings are probably what my friend and colleague Fred Bunting likes to term “more interesting than relevant,” but others—such as where and how your ranking or flagging information, your hand-tuned image settings, and your color-correct previews get stored—are pieces of vital information for anyone who entrusts their work to the tools discussed by this book. If conveying that information helps much better photographers than I to realize their vision, I consider the effort worthwhile.

How the Book Is Organized

A significant problem I faced in writing this book is that everything in the workflow affects everything else in the workflow, so some circularity is inherent.

That said, I've tried to impose some order. The first three chapters look at images one at a time. Chapter 1, Digital Camera Raw, looks at the fundamental nature of raw images—what they are, and the advantages and pitfalls of shooting them. Chapter 2, How Camera Raw Works, looks at the specific advantages that Camera Raw offers over other raw converters. In Chapter 3, Using Camera Raw, I look in depth at Camera Raw's controls and how to use them to get the best out of your raw captures.

But working photographers need to deal with not one, but hundreds if not thousands of images at a time, so the remainder of the book is devoted to handling images in quantity. Chapter 4, The File Browser, introduces you to your virtual digital light table, explains its component parts, and describes its functionality. Chapter 5, It's All About the Workflow, explains how to use the features described in Chapter 4 to process large collections of images quickly and efficiently, as well as showing you how to troubleshoot should problems arise. Chapter 6, Understanding Metadata, looks at the inner workings of the various metadata schemes used by Camera Raw and the File Browser and shows you how to make them work for you. Finally, Chapter 7, Exploiting Automation, show you how to leverage the work done in Camera Raw and the File Browser to produce converted images that require minimal work in Photoshop and contain the metadata you want them to.

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