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I wanted to take a moment to share some of my thoughts about the workflow approach that you might take when optimizing an image in Photoshop. Generally speaking, there are a couple of things that I recommend keeping in mind. One, I generally start with what I consider to be the most important adjustment for an image and then work my way down to the more detail oriented adjustments. I also start with adjustments that affect the entire image. Now of course, every image is unique, and you'll take a slightly different approach for each image. But I think if you keep these principles in mind, you'll find it's a little bit easier to approach your images in a consistent way. Now generally speaking, this could be different for each image, but generally speaking, I find that the Tonal Adjustments are those that I'm most likely going to apply first.
I might add a Brightness Contrast Adjustment layer for example, to get started with some basic tonal adjustments. I might use a Levels Adjustment to apply a little bit more refined Tonal Adjustment. Or I could even start with a Curves Adjustment if I feel there's really a lot of work or I just want to exercise greater control over the tonal adjustments or an image. Then more often than not the next adjustments will relate to Color. I'll typically start off with a Color Balance Adjustment. That'll help me fine tune the color to make it look its best. In most cases that color balance is pretty well established in the raw conversion.
But sometimes you might want to fine tune just a little bit. I then typically move on to a Vibrance Adjustment in order to boost the colors just a little bit, or in some cases to tone those colors down, and if I feel that I want to adjust individual colors, I'll then look to Hue Saturation. At that point, then I'm might consider any image cleanup that I need to do. For example, fixing blemishes in an image. And of course, possibly some creative adjustments as well. The idea is to have a thoughtful approach to optimizing your image. It doesn't need to be formulaic, you don't want to always be applying the same adjustments to every single image. But I think it does make sense to at least have a consistent thought process in mind, as your approaching the adjustments that you'll apply to all of your images.
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