Here we will go over the steps done after the actual capturing of the images - "post processing."  We will go through my personal workflow in detail.  Although your applications may differ, many of the techniques translate directly over.  The steps are essentially the same; the programs and their operation differ only slightly.

If you are shooting with Canon and using RAW files, you would substitute your RAW editor of choice in place of Nikon Capture.  Although the screen may appear different, you would take the same steps in the same sequence.

Keep in mind this is my personal workflow, and works for me.  It does not apply to every situation, nor every photographer.  Use it as a guideline to start off with and make the necessary adjustments (tweaks) to the workflow so that it is optimized for your personal style of photography.

Downloader Pro
The first step in the workflow, of course, is capturing the image.  Once that is done, we must get it in the computer.  I use Breeze Systems Downloader Pro to do this.  It is fast, configurable, and allows for renaming files from "DSC_0001.JPG" to something more meaningful such as "Vacation 04.26.2004 image 001.jpg."  It also allows the addition of IPTC info.

The very next step, once the files have been downloaded, is to burn them to CD.  Downloader Pro can be configured to automatically launch the CD burning application once the image files have been successfully downloaded.  Burn these images to CD before doing anything else to them - this includes viewing them.

We want to make a copy of the images before anything is done so if we make an unwanted change, or accidentally delete our once-in-a-lifetime shot, we have the original to fall back on.

Thumbs+ Pro
The next step is to wade through the hundreds of photos we took in the session and choose the keepers.  Okay, so you only shot 5 photos, still, go through those 5 and choose one to edit.

I use Cerious Software Thumbs+ Pro to view the images and drag potential keepers into the editor.  Looking at them close up, I determine if I want to edit an image or not.  Let's just choose the first image of the Paracanthurus hepatus (hippo tang) to work with.  It is actually an image I dug up from the bin, but it allows us to cover my workflow comprehensively.

As we get better at the actual capturing process, we will find that time behind the computer in post processing is significantly reduced since many of the steps can be skipped.  In fact, I often use Nikon Capture to batch process my RAW files into JPEGs.


Why Not Do Everything With a Single Program?

As we will see in the following pages, we change different aspects of the image with each program.  With Nikon Capture we work with the original RAW data as much as possible to give us the best possible decoding of the RAW data.  In Photoshop, we then take that image and actually change its mapping and its structure.  This type of work is out of Nikon Capture's scope.

Although Adobe supports the NEF file format, Adobe RAW Converter (ARC) is an all-purpose RAW converter not particularly specialized for work with NEF files.