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In Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography, Ben Long outlines a full, shooting-to-output workflow geared specifically toward the needs of landscape photographers, with a special emphasis on composition, exposure enhancement, and retouching. This course also covers converting to black and white, using high-dynamic range (HDR) imaging techniques to capture an image that’s closer to what your eye sees, and preparing images for large-format printing. Learn to bring back the impact of the original scene with some simple post-processing in Photoshop. Exercise files are included with the course.
You've already been using the Done button down here in the workflow area of the Camera Raw dialog box, but now we're getting ready to head on into Photoshop. So it's time to take a look at the Workflow Options dialog box, which lets us control the last few steps of our RAW conversion process. Clicking this thing that looks like a link here in a web browser actually takes us to Workflow Options. I have a few different choices that I can configure for how Camera Raw is going to produce a final RAW file by combining the RAW image data in my RAW file with the settings that I've defined over here in Camera Raw's controls.
First of all, there is Color Space. When your camera captures color data, it assigns a number to every pixel in an image. So, it may decide, for example, that this is 100% yellow, this pixel right here, but what does 100% yellow mean, 100% of what? The Color Space is a mathematical model that defines the ranges of colors in your image. So, 100% yellow in one color space may equate to only 50% yellow in a larger color space. Camera Raw provides four different color spaces, sRGB being the smallest.
This is a color space designed primarily for web output, and it can't produce quite the range of reds and a couple of other colors that some of the larger color spaces can. Adobe RGB is the default color space, and it's a good compromise color space between the small color space of sRGB and the very large color space of ProPhoto. You may think, well, why wouldn't I just stay on ProPhoto all the time? Well, if you get too bigger color space, there is a chance that your colors will become too spread out in that color space, and you won't be able to achieve smooth gradients and other transition areas in your image.
However, there might be times when you open an image and find some highlight clipping over on the right side. In fact, this image has it. Let's just see what happens if I change from Adobe RGB to ProPhoto color space and hit OK. Notice that that little red spike over there went away. In ProPhoto color space, I am no longer clipping that red channel that was in there. Just to give you an idea, I'm going to go back and change it back to Adobe RGB, hit OK, and you can see that my clipping has come back.
This color space, Adobe RGB, is not big enough to hold all of the color that this image has. Let's go to an even smaller color space. Now there is even more clipping, again, in the red channel. So where this is going to show up, I can hit the Highlight Warning, and you can see in here, these areas that I brightened earlier are now overexposing. So, changing the Color Space can solve this problem for me; whether that amount of clipping would show in a final print or not is another story.
So sometimes, spending too much time juggling the color space is maybe more work than you need to go to. On the other hand, I might as well play it safe and stick with ProPhoto here. I can also tell how many bits per channel I want to capture. More Bits/Channel means more gradations of color within your image are possible. Your camera probably captures 10 to 12 bits of color per pixel. Some might even capture 14 bits per pixel, but a JPEG file can only hold 8 bits per pixel. So when you shoot in JPEG mode, one of the first things that happens is your camera throws out a lot of color information.
A RAW file can hold the full amount. You can choose between 8 and 16. If you choose 16, you're not actually generating 16 bits of color per pixel. That's a container that's big enough to hold everything what your camera generated. I almost always work in 16 bits, because it gives me more editing flexibility, more editing latitude, and we'll see what that means a little bit later. 8 bits per pixel does not, in the end, mean that you can't get just as beautiful an image with all the dynamic range and everything else, but if you're planning on doing a lot of editing, which I typically do, 16 Bits/Channel is a better way to go.
Size, by default, it's going to store the full pixel count of your image, which in this case, was a 10-megapixel image. I can also choose to have Camera Raw size it down or even enlarge it. These are operations that I can also do in Photoshop. Why would I do them here? Because if I was batch processing, if I had selected 200 images that I wanted to split them all out at 2 megapixels, because I was going to just do 4 x 6 inch prints or something, I could set this here, then later hit the Save Image button, and let it go through and crank all of those into finished files.
I'm going to leave this at full-size. Resolution, doesn't matter what you set this at; this is purely just a timesaving device from printing later on. Again, Sharpening, we don't want any sharpening applied. So we're going to leave this turned off. We're going to come to Smart Objects later. I'm going to hit OK. Now, those settings will stay that way, as the defaults, until I change them. If I already have other settings set for a previous image that I'd opened, then obviously, it'll update when I open that image. But for now I'll be outputting ProPhoto 16-bit images, so I'm going to want to keep an eye on that as I continue to work.
Now, we're ready to move on into Photoshop, which I can do by hitting the Open Image button. Camera Raw will process the image, which can take awhile, depending on the speed of your computer, and how big the image is, and open it up in Photoshop. We looked at this before when we discussed opening. I have a document here that says flowers.CR2. That's the name of my RAW file. I do not have to worry about saving over my original RAW file though, because if I go choose Save, it will ask me for a new name, and we'll talk again about saving later.
Now, we're ready to move on and continue editing this image.
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