There is no doubt that to create great output you must first capture a great image. But to get the best output there is still a lot more that must be done in the darkroom; whether your darkroom is the traditional kind or the digital. According to the authors of Photoshop CS3 For Nature Photographers, if you would have looked at the original shots of one of the greatest nature photographers of the 20th century, Ansel Adams, you would have not looked twice. His images were so good because he was a master of the darkroom.
While Photoshop offers a multitude of ways to accomplish any given task, trying to figure out which is the best for a given situation is not always easy. In Photoshop CS3 For Nature Photographers the subject is nature. This narrows the scope so as to give you the best techniques for the subject.
Photoshop CS3 For Nature Photographers is 416 pages that are divided into 11 chapters. Chapter 1 "Thinking Digitally" introduces you to the photographic techniques that you need to use while still making the shot. It covers file format; RAW vs JPEG, exposure, histograms, white balance, as well as other topics such as ethical considerations on manipulation. Chapter 2 "Bridge" describes how to work with Adobe Bridge to download and store your images. Here you will streamline your process to make this part of your workflow more economical.
Chapter 3 "Adobe Camera Raw" shows you how to work with the raw converter to make many of the global changes to your images. You will work with such changes as adjusting white balance, exposure, brightness, contrast, and other initial changes. In ACR 4, you can now also work with adjusting TIFF, and JPEG images as well to get the best possible images. Chapter 4 "Foundations" sets up the foundation to allow Photoshop to work for you in a predictable way. Here you will learn the basics of color management, setting preferences, basic selection techniques, and learning how to work with the brush tools you will need later on.
Chapter 5 "Workflows and First Steps" explains how to create a flexible workflow beginning with Smart Objects and Smart Filters as well as working with the other, more traditional Photoshop tools. Here you will also learn how to work with cropping, rotating, and image clean up as well. Chapter 6 "Exposure Adjustments" shows you how to use layer masks, Levels, Curves, and Shadow/Highlight controls. Here you will learn to fine tune the tonal corrections to specific parts of your image.
Chapter 7 "Color Adjustments" focuses on fine tuning the color in your images by using Hue/Saturation, Selective Color, and Color Balance, all while continuing to work with Layer Masks. You will also learn about techniques of working with color casts to make your images more expressive. Chapter 8 "Composites" will show you a number of ways to combine images to create effects that would not be possible in a single image. These would include panoramas, and the creation of high dynamic range images (HDRI). While many may say that this is manipulation, sometimes it is the only way to accurately represent what really existed at the time.
Chapter 9 "Creative Effects" describes techniques for becoming more creative with your images. This includes converting to Black and White, partial colorization, the use of filters, and the use of multiple exposures. This explores photographic artistry. Chapter 10 "Output" gives you tips for workflow once you have created your masterpiece. This includes resizing, reducing noise, and sharpening your images for print, creating slideshows, and building a web gallery. Chapter 11 "Time Savers" finishes up with a number of techniques that will make you more productive including actions, batching, as well as creating watermarks, and copyright brushes. With these techniques you can spend less time optimizing and more time shooting.