Every digital photographer faces the issue of developing or selecting an effective workflow.  If you take a class in digital photography or Photoshop one of the first things covered will be workflow.  I have adopted the following over the past few years.  It was originally based on training at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography but has evolved to include more steps based on my experience.

  1. Input - I use the Canon Zoom Browser to transfer the files from my camera to the auxiliary PC hard drive I use exclusively for photos

  2. Copy - I copy all files to CD's as a backup before working on any files.

  3. Plan - Before taking any actions I recall my original intent for the image and plan my approach.

  4. Convert - I use Photoshop CS so I use the built in RAW file converter; I always change the default sharpening to 0 so that my files are only sharpened once near the end of the work flow.

  5. Correct overall contrast - this is often completed in the conversion process but I usually at least check it again with Levels and Curves

  6. Proof Set-up and Color Balance - knowing my intent allows using soft-proofing and I adjust the color balance done in the conversion as needed based on the proof set-up for the paper and inks to be used.

  7. Clean-up - I use ctrl-alt-0 to enlarge the image to 100% and clone out any dust, black pixels or extraneous trash in the image

  8. Detail light correction - I generally use the history brush to lighten or darken specific sections of the image.

  9. Crop - I crop the image if needed. Save and then open recent.

  10. Burn edges/corners - Now that it is cropped I burn the edges to enhance the eye direction to the important parts of the image.

  11. Save as master - I label the image with the image name, #, and m for master.

  12. Flatten - I flatten any adjustment layers to increase the speed of the following steps and to minimize storage space requirements.

  13. Interpolate/size - I resize the image to the size(s) for final printing, generally using the Fred Miranda plug-ins (available at

  14. Sharpen & save-as - I use either unsharp mask, the Fred Miranda sharpening plug-in or other techniques such as luminance or edge sharpening as taught by John Paul Caponigro.  All of them are done selectively to avoid adding noise to otherwise smooth areas such as sky.  Long exposures have noise reduced from large areas such as sky selectively as well.

  15. Final check - I review the image looking again for any dust, dead pixels, artifacts, white or black edges, checking for horizon level, etc.

  16. Print - I use an Epson Photo2200, I calibrate my monitor with a ColorVision Spyder2Pro, and I follow the color management process developed by Ian Lyons ( available at


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