Making overall adjustments in Photoshop is different from making adjustments in Camera Raw. In Camera Raw, adjustments are made in linear increments, each adjustment is added to the metadata of the image, leaving the original file intact. In Photoshop, however, these adjustments are pictured and presented in layers — you do each one as if it were on a transparent overlay stacked on top of the image. Each layer represents a separate adjustment to the original image, or background layer.
It's kind of like making a sandwich. You start off with a piece of bread — your original layer — and then you lay some bologna on top (another layer), a piece of cheese (another one), some mustard (ditto), and then finally another piece of bread, that's the final layer. Substitute specific adjustments for those layers, and you have the Photoshop approach to images. (I don't know about you, but I'm getting hungry!)
Think of each layer as a transparency that contains a specific addition. When you open an image file in Photoshop, the original image is used as a background layer. Add a layer to make an adjustment; that layer is placed on top of the background layer. Each new edit is contained in a new layer, stacked from the bottom on up. When the adjustments are done, the stack is complete — a composite image — maybe not edible, but a finished product.
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