This chapter provides a 30,000-foot overview of the whole digital raw system. I'll discuss the individual components in much more detail in subsequent chapters, but before delving into the minutiae (and there are a lot of details), it's helpful to have some idea of what the components do, and how they interrelate.
Camera Raw is an amazing piece of technology, but it's only one component of a powerful system that helps you do everything from making your initial selects from a shoot, to adding copyright and keywording metadata, to producing final files for delivery. One of the components of this system is, of course, Photoshop itself.
Photoshop is truly one of the deepest applications available on any platform, and has probably had more words written about it than just about any other application in existence. It's also seductive. One of my goals in writing this book is to wean photographers from doing everything in Photoshopif you just treat Camera Raw as a quick way to get raw images into Photoshop for correction, you're making extra work for yourself, and probably not getting everything you can from your raw captures.
For the purposes of this book, Photoshop is simply a tool for making localized corrections, hosting automated processes, and writing images out to different file formats. My friend and colleague Jeff Schewe remarked jokingly during the beta period of Photoshop CS2 that Photoshop had become a plug-in for Camera Raw rather than vice versa, to which I can only add that rarely was a truer word spoken in jest.
One of the biggest challenges the digital raw shooter faces is to avoid drowning in data. Raw captures typically create smaller files than film scans, but we have to deal with so many more raw captures than we did film scans that spending hours correcting an individual image in Photoshop has to become the exception rather than the rule if we want to make a living, or even have a life. So in this short chapter, I'll lay out the basics of the raw workflow.