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Workflow is a big topic, and there is no ideal workflow that I can say is unequivocally right for everybody. In general though, it's safe to say that a postproduction workflow typically proceeds something like this. You import your images into your computer. Now, you might be importing them into a program like Lightroom or Aperture or iPhoto, or you might simply be copying the images to your hard drive manually and then using a program such as Adobe Bridge to browse through them. Next, you review your images to make your selects. That is, you sift through all of the images that you shot, you find the ones that are good enough to pass through the rest of your workflow, and then you edit those images.
Image editing has its own workflow that you follow to work efficiently and to ensure that you're not degrading the quality of your images. But in this image editing step you'll fix problems in the image--cropping, exposure problems, sensor dust, retouching--and many times you'll be image editing because your camera was simply not able to capture the image the way you saw it either in your mind or with your eye. This is the image editing to complete an image. You'll make these edits based on what you are seeing on your screen. Now if you've done any printing at all, you've probably already discovered that what you see onscreen doesn't always match what you get on paper.
What's more, if you later switch to a different kind of paper, you may get completely different printed results than what you were getting before. So after you've got your image looking the way that you like it onscreen, after you've cleaned it and adjusted it and finished up your original vision for the scene, then it's time to add some additional edits to get the image corrected for the specific print that you want to make. Now this is why I think there are two image editing steps as you're working towards a print. The first set of edits gets you a baseline image that represents your original vision of the scene.
The second set builds on that baseline image and adjusts it for your particular printer and paper choice. But you might be a thinking, aren't you're going to show me how to get my images to always match the screen? Maybe. The fact is, depending on the hardware that you have, it may not be possible for you to get your images to match your screen. But that won't prevent you from getting good prints. It also doesn't mean that you have go through dozens of test prints to get a good result. The techniques you're going to learn here will show you how to accurately adjust your images to get a predictable result, even though it may not look exactly like what you see onscreen.
After your edits are done, you need to size your image, sharpen it, and then you're ready to print, and that printing step might involve a soft proofing step, and it will certainly involve configuring the Print dialog box correctly. You need to let your print dry then and stabilize and then you're ready to evaluate it and see if you need to make any additional adjustments. In this chapter, you're going to see me take an image from that initial set of edits--that is, from edits that look right onscreen--to a finished print. This is going to involve a lot of analysis and correction. We're not going to get into resizing and sharpening in this chapter though, as I like you to focus just on understanding the corrections that you need to make to get a good image on paper.
You're also going to see me working with students at the Oklahoma Arts Institute. They are going to give me images that they have edited to a specific vision, and I'm going to take them from there to a finished print.
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