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I’ve been getting a number of emails, and posts here on the blog, about my book, “The Photoshop Seven-Point System,” so I thought I’d put together a short Q&A that will hopefully address some of the most frequent questions. Here we go:

Q. I can’t find out where to download the photos used in the book. Where are they?
A. The download link is listed in the last place you’d look; the book’s introduction. That’s why from here on out, I’m including the link in more places in the book.

Q. Why don’t you just put the link here?
A. It’s because the downloadable images are just for people who are using “The System.”

Q. I’m trying to use Lightroom instead of Photoshop CS3, but it won’t let me take an image from Lightroom into Photoshop CS3 as a Smart Object. How come?
A. It’s because at this point, Lightroom doesn’t have the option of opening images in Photoshop as a Smart Object. I’m hoping that Adobe will include that option in Lightroom 2.0, but at this point I have no idea if they will.

Q. But I use Lightroom for all my raw processing. Is there a workaround?
A. Well, yeah, but it’s pretty clunky (which is why I called it the seven point system for “Photoshop CS3″ and NOT for “Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom”). Here’s a step-by-step:

STEP ONE: Take the image into Lightroom’s Develop module and process the image using the techniques from the Photoshop CS3 Seven-Point System.

STEP TWO: Switch back to the Library module, then go under the Metadata menu (up top) and choose Save Metadata to File.

STEP THREE: Ctrl-Click (on Mac), or Right click (on PC) and from the pop-up menu that appears, choose “Show in Finder” (on Mac), or “Show in Explorer” on PC. This opens and brings to front the window where that file resides on your computer.

STEP FOUR: Inside that window, select both your image file, and the XMP metadata file (they should be right next to each other), and copy these to a new location on your hard disk (I told you this was clunky). I make a copy of mine and put them on my Desktop, so they’re separate from the one I used in Lightroom, but you can actually edit the same image you used in Lightroom—just don’t drag it to your desktop or another location.

STEP FIVE: Go to Photoshop CS3, and choose “Open as Smart Object” and that image will open in Photoshop CS3′s Camera Raw, with all the changes you made back in Lightroom. You can continue applying “The System” from here.

STEP SIX: The clunkiness continues: There’s no easy way to go back to Lightroom for printing or more editing, without reimporting the photo into Lightroom like you would any other photo on your computer. I know, this isn’t what you wanted you hear, but this is why I didn’t include a section on Lightroom in the book, even though Camera Raw and Lightroom’s Develop module share the same controls. When it comes to using Lightroom and Smart Objects, at this point the two don’t really mix.

Q. Can I use “The System” if I have CS2, instead of Photoshop CS3?
A. Well….no, not really. A key part of the system requires that you use the Camera Raw functionality of CS3 (even if you’re shooting in JPEG or TIFF). So, if you try “The System” using anything other than CS3 (like CS2, Lightroom, etc.) it’s not the Seven-Point system. It’s the five point system, or the 6 point system, or well…something else.

Q. Does “The System” Work with Photoshop Elements?
A. Nope. Sorry ’bout that.

Q. I heard there was a flickr group for people who use “The System,” and that they’re posting their before/after photos there. What’s the link?
A. The “Seven Point System Before/After” flickr group is at this link right here.

Q. Will I wind up using all Seven Points on every single photo?
A. I sure hope not. The more messed up the photo, the more points you’ll need, but chances are you won’t have to use more than five or six for most photos, and that’s a good thing.

Q. You refer to some sharpening actions in the book, but I can’t find them. Where do you download them from?
A. You don’t download them–you build them yourself (as a way of learning how to create and use your own actions), in one of the first chapters in the book. That way, you can use those actions throughout not only the rest of the book, but in your own workflow as well.

Q. Does “The System” really work?
A. I can honestly say, that I get more emails from people who swear by “The System” than probably anything I’ve ever written for Photoshop. The “Seven Point System” is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done as a teacher, because I really set out to help folks who are struggling. I wanted to find a way to really help them to finally get their images to look the way them always wanted them to, and to hear from so many people around the world, and read so many wonderful reviews online about the success they’re having, is just incredibly motivating, encouraging, and gratifying for me. When you’ve devoted your life to teaching, this is the kind of stuff you live for. :)

Well, there you have it. A few things that I hope will help answer some of the lingering questions about “The System.”