This book is intended as a Camera Raw and Photoshop CS2 reference for those digital photographers who want to develop efficient workflows for processing raw images, organizing files, and making corrections and edits in Photoshop. If you have an advanced digital camera or digital SLR that can capture images in raw format, a computer (with a lot of memory and storage space!), Photoshop CS2, and even a photo-quality printer, you probably have all you need to get started!
Here is a list of things I assume you already have (or will be adding to your collection shortly):
i Digital SLR or advanced compact digital camera: For digital photographers who want to shoot in raw format, having a digital camera that can produce raw files is a pretty good idea. Most of the newer (and more advanced) compact digital cameras — and to my knowledge, all recent-model digital SLRs — offer the raw format. If your digital camera is a brand-spanking-new model (if so, congratulations!), it may take Adobe a few months to come out with an update to Camera Raw that includes your new model. One thing is certain: You're going to need some big-honkin' memory cards for your digital camera. Raw files can get pretty big — from 5 megabytes each on up — depending on how many megapixels your digital camera can handle. So I'd also suggest a dedicated card reader to transfer those big files to your computer. Transferring files to your computer by attaching a USB cable from your camera can be a slow and tedious process; getting a card reader is a great investment, and they don't cost much (especially when you consider that your time is valuable).
i Computer: To work with Photoshop, you need a computer with enough memory and a decent monitor. Photoshop CS2 requires that your computer have at least 384 megabytes of memory. (And remember: As a rule, minimum requirements barely get the job done; try to exceed those specs whenever possible.) If you are shooting and processing raw files, I'd recommend at least 1 gigabyte of memory for your computer. Digital photo files, especially raw, gobble up disk space (I'd recommend at least 100 gigabytes for starters). You'll be surprised at how fast disk space gets used up.
i Colorimeter: Color management is a super-important part of your overall workflow. If you're not using color-management tools, I strongly suggest you look into purchasing a colorimeter and a software package that will allow you to calibrate your monitor. If you can ensure that what you see on your computer is what prints on your printer, you're better off; calibration makes it possible.
i Photoshop CS2: Photoshop CS2 is the central part of your digital darkroom. Just as Windows or Mac OS functions as your computer's operating system, Photoshop CS2 is your digital-photography operating system. New features in CS2 include Adobe Bridge for image management — and Camera Raw is included.
If you're still using Photoshop CS, don't fret! For the most part, the workflows in this book apply to you as well; the version of Camera Raw is very similar, and the File Browser concept of managing files is the same.
i Photo-quality printer: I'm assuming you're using Photoshop to process files for printing, but lots of folks use it for publishing in different media as well. Still, it's nice to have one of those superior new photo printers our manufactures have blessed us with. These days, for under $100, you can find a printer that will more than meet your needs. If you're making photos primarily for use on the Web, having a printer on hand helps if you want an actual photo you can hold, frame, or keep in your wallet.
This book is divided into parts that address general areas such as organizing photos, converting raw files, or working with Photoshop. I even include some fun chapters in The Part of Tens. Feel free to skip around, and if you have the time, read the book from beginning to end!
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