The Digital Light

Sorting your images is an important and often unpopular task, especially if you are itching to get to work on your latest images.

The thumbnails displayed in many file browsers are usually not of high enough quality to be used for judging overall image quality. The fact that we will be working (mostly) with RAW files means that our digital light box has to have an associated or built-in RAW editor that can display the full, high-resolution image contained in the RAW data. When you are sorting your images, you should check:

► Composition

► Exposure (histograms are very useful here)

► Color quality (which often depends on selecting the right white balance setting)

► Which image of a series or a bracketing sequence* is the best

Based on this first inspection, we label our images either as keepers or as trash that should be deleted immediately. We then give our keepers a rating from 1-5 stars. Five-star images are potential portfolio material, while images with no star are ones that we will keep for now, but possibly delete later after a second sorting.

A good early sort saves disk space and makes working with the rest of our material easier and more efficient. Once we have sorted our images, we set up our image browser to display only those with one or more stars. Then we can start work.

There are a great many tools available for the universal task of image browsing. The file managers built into the two most popular operating systems (the Windows Explorer and the Mac OS Finder) are becoming increasingly powerful and are nowadays capable of displaying thumbnail previews of various file types as well as some metadata. But a purpose-built image browser is still faster and more accurate when it comes to making image selection decisions, especially if you are viewing RAW images.

Every RAW editor and quality image processing program has its own built-in image browser, but there are also a number of standalone products available, such as the freeware IrfanView. Some digital asset management programs, such as Extensis Portfolio [71] or Microsoft's Expression Media [90] also have their own image browsers. Photoshop also has a fairly powerful browser that forms a bridge between the individual components of the Adobe Creative Suite and gives it its name, Adobe Bridge.

The three basic phases of image browsing and selection are:

1. Initial inspection of new photos recently downloaded to the computer. Here, we determine which images can be deleted immediately and which deserve a second look. We also rank our images and add basic metadata

(such as the name of the shoot, copyright information, keywords, etc.). This basic sorting is an important part of the overall workflow and shouldn't be taken lightly. Scrimping on initial sorting often makes effective image processing much more difficult later on.

The end of this first phase involves displaying the images marked for deletion once again and confirming that your initial decision was the right one before deleting them forever.

2. Transferring individual images to your image processing program.

Although some image browsers also include basic image editing tools, purpose-built image processors are still the better option when it comes to the range and functionality of the tools they offer. Only some of the newer all-in-one programs mentioned earlier have integrated, high-quality image editors.

3. Image search, in order to find and process a particular image, for example, a RAW-to-TIFF conversion; print preparation; or image export to another application. This phase is much easier if phase 1 (above) is conducted in a comprehensive and orderly fashion. Along with a clear storage structure, meaningful metadata are also important, as it's the basis for future searches and selection processes.

We will explain the browsing process using Adobe Bridge, the sister program of our main tool, Photoshop. Most contemporary image browsers have very similar functionality.

> A useful feature offered by Photo Mechanic, Apple Aperture, and Photoshop Lightroom is the ability to compare several (often similar) images next to or above one another in a single preview screen.

Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Adobe Photoshop can be a complex tool only because you can do so much with it, however for in this video series, we're going to keep it as simple as possible. In fact, in this video you'll see an overview of the few tools and Adobe Photoshop features we will use. When you see this video, you'll see how you can do so much with so few features, but you'll learn how to use them in depth in the future videos.

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