Before you can start working with your raw files, you need to get them onto your computer. This is the first step in your workflow, and taking the time to do things in a standardized way will make life easier.
Establishing a standard naming system will do more to help the initial workflow than almost anything else you can do. The name your camera assigns to an image is less than intuitive. Imagine browsing through thousands of images with names like _E7U2349.CR2 or DCS22893.NEF and you can easily see the benefit of giving your images more understandable and memorable names.
Luckily, Photoshop CS2 and Photoshop Elements 5.0 both make the renaming process painless. Photoshop Elements 5.0 running on a Windows PC has a Rename function that can be found in the Organizer (Figure 7.1). If you're using Photoshop CS2, or Elements on the Mac, go to the Adobe Bridge feature and select Tools > Batch Rename to display a dialog box like the one shown in Figure 7.2.
Figure 7.1. Photoshop Elements Organizer on Windows has a Rename function that works with multiple files.
Figure 7.2. Photoshop CS2 and Mac users of Elements have a more powerful batch rename function in Bridge.
When renaming images you have the option to rename the file in the same folder or to move the renamed file to a new folder. Unless you have a good reason, I recommend selecting "Rename in same folder" in the Destination box. In the New Filenames box there are numerous naming parameters available in the top drop-down option box. I select the Text option since I normally use the subject and date as the filename, along with a three- or four-digit sequence number. The bottom drop-down option can be set to Sequence Number, with the second field set to a desired starting number (in this case 1) and the third field set to the desired number of digits. When the Rename button in the top right corner of the dialog box is clicked, the files are renamed and numbered sequentially.
For example, if I have a set of images that were shot in Yosemite, all the images will be renamed starting with yosemite_20050627_001.CR2_. Yosemite is the subject, the images are from June 27, 2005, and 001 would be the image's three-digit sequential number. The CR2 at the end designates the file format. Batch rename shows an example of the filename at the bottom of the dialog box (Figure 7.3).
Figure 7.3. Use meaningful names and sequence numbers to help identify images quickly.