The production phase is where you hand-polish the select images that deserve the bulk of your time and attentionhand-tuning the Camera Raw settings, and bringing the images into Photoshop for the kinds of selective corrections that Camera Raw simply isn't designed to do (all that stuff we talk about in the rest of this book).
The exercise of your creative judgment is one aspect of the workflow that you can't automate, but automation can and will speed up the execution of that creative judgment. When it comes to efficiency in converting raw images, actions are the key. We generally convert raw images in batches using actions rather than simply opening them in Photoshop.
One of the most useful additions to the raw workflow toolkit is the capability of Camera Raw 3.0 to save images in the background, hosted either by Photoshop or Bridge (see "Saving Images in the Background" earlier in this chapter). We use background saving for two distinct purposes.
Bear in mind that when Camera Raw is tied up performing saves in one application, it's still available for use in the other.
Background saving is useful when you've done everything the image needs in Camera Raw, but images often need some postconversion work in Photoshop. The Photoshop submenu offers a variety of useful routines for creating images in a deliverable form, but by far the most powerful and flexible is the Batch command. That's what we'll tackle next.