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An absolutely, positively, must-own.

Book Review – Real World Camera Raw: with Adobe Photoshop CS3 By Bruce Frasier and Jeff Schewe

If you want to be a serious digital photographer then Real World Camera Raw: with Adobe Photoshop CS3 is one of the books that you will need to study, learn, and live by. Camera Raw, the Photoshop plug-in, gives you precise control over image qualities like white balance, tones, color space, contrast, and saturation.

Real World Camera Raw: with Adobe Photoshop CS3 is the latest version of the book that was begun by Photoshop expert Bruce Frasier and is now carried on by his friend and business partner Jeff Schewe. It is contained in 365 pages divided into nine chapters.

Chapter 1, "Digital Camera Raw," focuses on Raw capture, its fundamental nature, advantages, and limitations. You will begin by learning what Raw Capture is, why you should use it, and just what is a digital negative? Chapter 2, "How Camera Raw Works," examines what "lies under the hood" of the Camera Raw plug-in. To use Camera Raw effectively, you must first understand what it offers and where its limitations are, as well as how you can overcome the limitations.

Chapter 3, "Raw System Overview," provides the 30,000 foot view of the whole digital raw system. Here the individual components are discussed in much more detail; not as much as in future chapters, but for now, this provides an overview of the workflow in general. The components are Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, Adobe Photoshop CS3, and Digital Negatives.

Chapter 4, "Camera Raw Controls," examines the Camera Raw controls in detail. Here you will start by learning how to handle Camera Raw images one at a time and you will delve in-depth into what each control does and how best to work with them. They include the basic panel, the Tone Curve Panel, the Detail Panel, the HSL/Grayscale Panel, the Split Tone Panel, the Lens Correction Panel, the Calibrate Panel, and the Presets Panel. You will also examine the Camera Raw Flyout menu, the main Raw buttons, the Camera Raw toolbar, as well as other Camera Raw tools.

Chapter 5, "Hands-on Camera Raw," shows that knowing what each control does is only half the battle, the other half is knowing how the tools interact, and when and in which order to use them. Here you will learn about Camera Raw by getting in and working with it.

Chapter 6, "Adobe Bridge," explores briefly the history of file browser and its progression into Adobe Bridge and how Bridge under CS3 has become rather complex. Here Bridge is talked about in relation to the features that apply to digital photography and the Raw workflow. Topics include working with Bridge, Metadata, Keywords, and other tools such as Batch Rename, Cache, Collections, and Slideshow.

Chapter 7, "It's All About the Workflow," describes, that now, even though you understand many of the tools, you now need to learn how to perform the actual work of Raw processing. This can be described into five basic strategies; Image Ingestion, Image Verification, Preproduction, Production, and Post Production. This will put the Raw workflow into the big picture.

Chapter 8, "Mastering Metadata," examines the "data about data"; that is the information contained within the raw file. This EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) standard is the information that is provided by the camera manufacturers when you take a picture. Also examined is XMP which is Adobe's initiative to promote a standard for Metadata. It, like DNG, is an open standard to try to make digital become manufacture independent.

Chapter 9, "Exploiting Automation," shows that although, up till now, everything has been done on a one off basis, to be truly effective, you need to be able to automate as many of these processes as possible. Here you will learn how to "work smarter, not harder" by using automation.

Bottom line, if you are serious about digital imaging, you will work with Raw files from your Camera; usually DSLR, but many higher end point and shoot cameras are offering Raw capture abilities as well. If you want to learn how to work effectively with Raw files then you will need to study Real World Camera Raw: with Adobe Photoshop CS3. It is the standard on the topic.

Unfortunately to the world at large and certainly to the digital world Bruce Frasier lost his battle with lung cancer on December 16, 2006. Fortunately for us, his friend and business partner Jeff Schewe has taken up the reigns, and updated his classic book and made sure that his legacy lives on.

If you are not familiar with Jeff Schewe's work you can find him as a regular on many of the videos from the Luminous-Landscape, from his website, and as the Editor in Chief for PhotoshopNews. As an award winning advertising photographer and pioneer in the digital imaging field, I can think of no one more qualified or more respected to take up the banner for Bruce Frasier and keep his legacy alive.

If you are serious about digital imaging and working with Raw files, if you find that you want to be in control of your images, or if you want to squeeze every last pixel of quality from your image capture, then Real World Camera Raw: with Adobe Photoshop CS3 is an absolutely, positively, must-own.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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