Why you should start in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop

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Why you should start in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop

So I want to take a few minutes and talk about the benefits of the Camera Raw Editor. I have already talked about the benefits of the raw file format. This is a little bit different topic. This is the benefit of the software that is included in Adobe Bridge used to process raw files. Now, it can also be used to process other file formats, and I'll get to that in a moment. The first myth I want to dispel is that Camera Raw is geeky. It's only for professional photographers. It's not for anyone who wants to make their images look better, and that's just false. In fact, one of the reasons why I'm starting with the Camera Raw Editor in the Photoshop CS5 Essential Training title is because it is so powerful and so quick, it's actually a better idea to start in Camera Raw.

Kind of the little phrase I use for new students or people new to Photoshop is to explain that you should be using Camera Raw for global changes and Photoshop for local changes. Now, what do I mean by global? By global, I'm talking about changes you're making to the overall image. So the things like tonal correction and color correction and sharpening. If there are specific areas in an image that you want to adjust separately from rest of the image, that's what I mean by local adjustments and Photoshop is obviously the best tool for that. For global changes though, the reasons why I like Raw is that it's a lot faster and easier to use than Photoshop in general, and I'll explain some of the benefits here in a moment.

There are basically five reasons to start in Camera Raw before you open up the file in Photoshop for further editing. The first game changer here is that it's a nondestructive edit. Anything you do in Camera Raw is not actually affecting the file itself. What you're doing you is making a series of choices. Those choices are being saved out as a little text file, and not to too geeky, but it's called a Sidecar file. And then when you open up that image again in the Camera Raw editor, it's simply loading those settings from that Sidecar file into the dialog and presenting those updates to you.

So you can make as many changes as you want. You never have to worry about destroying the file or doing something that you can't go back and undo, because you're never actually editing the actual file. So that's benefit number one. Benefit number two is that it has a built- in workflow. Now what do I mean by that? So the great thing about Photoshop is that it's anything to everybody. I mean lots of different people use the product. Doctors and creative professionals and designers and architects, even the FBI and law enforcement officials. Everyone kind of has a different way of using the product.

And if you ask 10 different Photoshop experts how to do any particular thing in Photoshop, like how you do a color correction, you'll probably get 10 different answers, because it's that robust. What I love about Camera Raw is that the controls are laid out in the actual order that you're supposed to use them, at least until you learn the rules. Then of course, you can go out of order anytime you want. But when you're just starting out, it's so much more approachable because it has a structured workflow. Now, if you go on to watch some of the other videos in this chapter, you'll actually see what I'm talking about instead of just listening to me babble about it.

But hold that thought for now. There's a built-in workflow that takes the guesswork out of what you're supposed to do to get a good looking image. The other thing, the number three is that it works on JPEG's too. So even though it's called Camera Raw, I actually wish Adobe would change the name of this thing, because it's such a phenomenal little workflow, a phenomenal little piece of software for editing JPEGs, Raw files and TIFFs and again all nondestructively. It's not just for raw files. Number four is that it can be automated without recording Photoshop actions.

For any of you who have actually tried to record actions before, you may have discovered that that's a potentially fragile workflow. Actions can get pretty complex pretty quickly especially when you play them back on files after they've been recorded. Or if you've inherited actions from someone else, and for some reason you can't get them to work on your images. What I like about Camera Raw is that it's very easy to batch process dozens, even hundreds or thousands of images without a lot of effort or understanding. And then lastly, it's simply a better or a quicker learning curve if you're just starting out.

Now if you have years of experience in Photoshop and you're just watching this title to kind of brush up on your skills or see what's new in the new version, you might have a different perspective on this. But I've been teaching people Photoshop for years and even experts, when they see kind of this new workflow, they're like wow, that is so much faster and so much easier. But what do I mean by this specifically? To get started in Photoshop, there are a lot of building blocks that you kind of have to roll up your sleeves and learn right away. You have to learn things like layers, and how to make regional selections of a particular image, or masks.

You have to learn the things like adjustment layers, and things like Curves ,and Levels, and blend modes, and it goes on, on, on. There are lots of little different building blocks. Now, all those building blocks add up to the world's most powerful image editor on the planet. But when you're just starting out, you may just want to have a simpler learning curve, and Camera Raw represents just that. So that's a very quick overview. You're going to learn a lot more about the specifics and the power of these five points in the Part I section of this title.

But this is just kind of a way to get you thinking about why you might want to start in Camera Raw as opposed to just jumping in Photoshop and hunting and pecking around in the menus there.

Why you should start in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop
Video duration: 5m 9s 11h 15m Beginner


Why you should start in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Michael Ninness as part of the Photoshop CS5 Essential Training

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