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Photoshop CS 2 in the Raw: An Interview with Author Bruce Fraser

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Peachpit Press author Bruce Fraser answers the question, "Photoshop CS 2 is new, but is it better?"
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Photoshop CS 2 in the Raw: An Interview with Author Bruce Fraser

Photoshop CS 2 is new, but is it better? Should you upgrade? We asked Bruce Fraser, author of Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS2, that very question. An internationally-recognized authority on digital imaging and color reproduction, Fraser told us what's new and what's cool in the latest version of Adobe's killer image editor.

1. Does Photoshop CS2 make it easier to work with camera raw files? If so, how?

Two things:

  • Bridge, which replaces the old File Browser, is a multi-threaded stand-alone application, so you can work in it without tying up Photoshop and vice versa.

  • Camera Raw is now shared by Bridge and Photoshop—you can actually launch two copies simultaneously, one hosted by Bridge, one by Photoshop. Camera Raw 3.0 also lets you save converted files in the background, hosted by either application, so you can continue to work in the other. So the raw workflow just got a lot more powerful and a lot more flexible.

2. From a photographer's point of view, what's the coolest new feature in CS2?

If I have to pick just one, it's the Curve editor in Camera Raw 3. It reduces greatly the amount of work I have to do post-conversion in Photoshop.

3. Should Photoshop users rush to upgrade? Why or why not?

It depends on how you use Photoshop. For raw shooters, Bridge and Camera Raw 3 are a must-have. Compositors and illustrators will like Vanishing Point, Warp, and the new layer-handling logic. Film and video pros will enjoy the support for 32-bit floating point-per-channel HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging. The new Spot Healing brush is a huge time-saver for almost anyone.

4. What are Smart Objects and how do they work?

You can place vector or raster files (including camera raw files), and edit them nondestructively—you're always editing the original data. The edits aren't committed until you flatten the file.

5. What is the most common image editing problem that most photographers face and how can they solve it with Photoshop CS 2?

I'd say the biggest problem photographers face once they've migrated to digital is the sheer volume of data that they have to deal with. Instead of looking at chromes on a light table, they have to subject raw images to some degree of processing before they can even see them! The tight integration of Camera Raw, Bridge, and Photoshop CS2 makes the whole process survivable and handles everything from letting them enter a copyright notice once to delivering fine-tuned final files with keywords, captions, and rights management notices built right into the file.

6. Your new book comes packed with great tips for working with camera raw files in Photoshop CS2. What, would you say, is the best tip in the book?

That's like asking a Dad to pick his favorite kid—even if I could, I wouldn't!

7. What exactly is Adobe Bridge and how can photographers use it to speed their workflow?

Bridge is the virtual digital light table. But it's also command-central for adding metadata such as captions, keywords, copyrights, and rights management notices—I like to tell photographers that an image without metadata is just a bunch of pixels, while an image with metadata is a digital asset that can earn money for years. Bridge can also host Camera Raw while Photoshop is busy running batch processes, so it adds great flexibility to the entire workflow.

8. What's your typical image editing workflow like?

I transfer images from the camera media to folders on two different hard drives (I may be paranoid, but I've never lost an image). I point Bridge at one folder, leaving the other first as short-term backup, eventually as long-term archive. I do rough Camera Raw edits on batches of images loaded into Camera Raw's film strip mode, and use metadata templates and the keywords palette to apply general keywords and copyright notices. I usually use Slide Show in Bridge to apply ratings and segregate the hero shots from the rejects, then I batch-save all the images as a background process from Camera Raw (hosted by whichever application I want to tie up while I use the other one). I save the files as DNG, so that I don't have to deal with sidecar .xmp files. Then I hand-edit the heroes in Camera Raw, and do final polishing in Photoshop.

9. When taking pictures, what do you shoot most often?

I'm unfit to hold the lens caps of the photographers whose work I really admire, but a few years ago I had the breakthrough realization that no matter what was in front of my camera, what drove me to make a photograph was the light. It's obviously trite, but what I photograph is always the light. What's reflecting that light really depends on where I find myself on any given day. Light on water is almost irresistible, though.

10. What's in your camera bag? Seriously, dump it out and tell us what's in there.

It's fairly simple.

  • Canon EOS 20D, with Canon EOS 300D as backup.

  • Two Canon lenses—the EF-S 17-85mm IS, and the EF 28-300mm IS.
  • Five SanDisk Extreme 1GB CF cards.
  • A Lexar FireWire CF card reader.
  • A 12-inch G4 PowerBook + 100GB FireLite external FireWire drive.
  • Gitzo Reporter tripod, cable release, battery charger, spare battery, spectrally-neutral gray card from Robin Myers Imaging, and a SensorBrush from
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