"Best way" order for editing photos
The Photo Raw 2023 User Guide indicates "You do not have to edit your photos in this order; this is just the way in which Photo RAW 2023 applies the edits you make to an image" (page 82). This implies that there may be a "best way" order in which to edit the photos. I cannot find any information about the "best way" for editing in Photo Raw 2023 (or any other edition for that matter).
There is no best way to edit your photos. In some of the training videos, they suggest following the same order as the editing pipeline. It really doesn’t make any difference though.0
The advantage of editing in pipeline order is that the non-destructive nature of the editing means that if you go back and make a change to an item lower down in the pipeline (e.g. change local adjustment after adding effects filters) then there can be lags, particularly when masking, since all the elements further along the pipeline have to be recalculated based on the lower level change. Depending on the change you may then feel that you have to adjust other filters or adjustments since their impact has now changed.
At times it might be better to use Effects filters such as Tone Enhancer, Curves, Colour Enhancer to mask in a new local adjustment at the top of the filters stack rather than go back to Local Adjustments.
A lot of this comes down to the performance of your computer and how much you are into masking adjustments/effects, and how you have set up the video card performance preferences in PhotoRAW.
I tend to leave cropping until the end so that any masked adjustments or filters are applied to whole image leaving me free to change my mind about the crop I initially intended to apply without running into problems with bringing back areas that now need to be included in masks.
Aside from the technical issues there are different schools of thought about the artistic approach to post processing. When I finally got round to learning Photoshop during the lockdowns one of the people whose Youtube videos I watched was Blake Rudis whose approach is Tone, Colour then Effects. Then there are those who take the Linear profile approach and start with a fairly bland global development and then build this up with local adjustments/filters. These type of artistic approaches may inform the order you choose to add filters.
In a basic edit without layers then it comes down to what works for you since it is possible to go back and change anything in any order. Gets more complicated with layers, particularly if create a layer by calling a plugin which will bake in all the adjustments up to the point of calling the plugin.2
That helps a lot. I'd been wondering when cropping was best accomplished; your explanation makes sense.0
I would also suggest carrying out any cloning or object removals first. If done later, the affected areas have to be re-applied to every adjustment or effect that has been added. This can slow down performance while adding no benefit.1
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