It's also best for new PJs. The following steps are designed for PJs who've been at this a while (and can manually fix problems) and own a newer version of Photoshop.
The Photoshop program has evolved since my first post, so I'll address useful new features. With CS2 and CS3, there are some amazingly fast options for deadline PJs trying to crank out images fast or a high volume of images (for slideshows or freelance "event" photos).
These options won't work on all images. Again, if any step doesn't look correct, back up in History and work the image the "old fashioned" way from the point it strays.
Open a generic .jpg file and crop to taste. Create the following Actions to maximize process speed:
1. Auto Color (Shft+Ctrl+B)If you're really lucky, the generic image should look good. Add 3 | 0 | 255 to the Input Channel in Levels, and you should be done. Save As (rename), put the Actions back into Button mode and move to the next image.
2. Set Shadow/Highlights (the Ansel Adams button)
Shadow = 1
Highlights = 4
3. Set Brightness / Contrast (for deeper blacks)
Brightness = -1
Contrast = 4
4. Set Unsharp Mask (as final step once image is fully toned)
Amount = 110%
Radius = 0.5 pixels
Threshold = 0
For extra speed, combine all the actions above under a single button and lable it "Feeling Lucky." If you're truly lucky, the one button will do it all. If not, back up through the History to find the problem and manually continue from there.
I'd also suggest creating a Similar, Grow, Feather button to fine tune the highlights and shadows to taste.
The five action buttons should be able to handle most images. They can be combined into a batch command (or the "Feeling Lucky" button) with a catch folder to handle most high-volume assignments efficiently.
In these circumstances, Copy selected images into an additional folder to protect the originals before starting the batch command. Go through the output folder and check for incorrectly-toned images. Redo those images manually the original way.
Enough for now,