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Digital Workflow

Introduction:
A digital workflow is simply a set of steps that you take in order to produce a final image be it for web, print or a digital use. The last steps in this workflow will vary depending on your needed output, but essentially your workflow should remain the same throughout. This is a general workflow, for a step-by-step list go here.
 
The Beginning:
A digital workflow starts before you take your first shot.
You have to decide what format to shoot in.
Think for a bit about your composition and what you are trying to achieve with your shot.
Do you need to use a filter? Which one?
Is it possible to capture the entire dynamic range of the scene? Do you use a Graduated ND filter or try something else?
Expose for the highlights. When you use a digital camera, blown highlights (white) are impossible to recover. You have a lot more leeway with shadows than you do with highlights.
Think about shutter speed and aperture.

These steps are just the beginning of a practical digital workflow.
 
Image Processing:
If you are like me, you shoot using the Raw file format. I won't get into the Raw vs. Jpeg details in this article, but you can read up on it here. If you shoot jpegs, you can safely skip the next step and go right to the Photoshop section.

When you shoot Raw you have a few more steps to take before you can actually start editing in Photoshop (or any editing program of your choice). Since a Raw image is just unprocessed data from your digital sensor, you have to apply several settings to it before you can begin editing.

There are quite a few programs that allow you to open Raw files, ranging from Nikon's Capture, Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and a whole slew of others. Since they are all different and look different I will just give you a general idea of what they do and how they should be used. More details on the Adobe Camera Raw converter are here.
 
Raw conversion:
The idea behind a Raw converter is to apply all the settings that would make a jpeg in your camera but with one advantage. You get to choose precisely what and how much of it to apply. And since we didn't throw away any data in creating a jpeg we have quite a wide range of adjustments available to use.

Most of these adjustments have to do with exposure, color balance, saturation, contrast, and various lens corrections such as vignetting and chromatic aberration. Set them until the image is to your liking and open it. Remember not to apply any sharpening (this is done as the very last step in your workflow) and use 16-bit mode.
 
Photoshop:
Once your image is opened, first thing you do is correct noise and then decide if you need to crop your image.

Make any edits that you deem are necessary, and remember to check for sensor dust spots in your image.

As a last thing you should sharpen your image based on the output (print, web, etc) and save it in a format of your choosing. If your original image was a jpeg, remember NOT to overwrite it.

Remember to archive your images for future use and emergency.

That is about all there is to the digital workflow. Over time you might come up with a way to speed up the process or add your own improvements.
 
Cheers

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