I posted this on another forum and maybe this might help some out....
1. I use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) as my RAW converter and CS4 to edit my images. Most of my images are converted from RAW to jpeg because I do very little in CS4..most of my adjustments are done in ACR.
2. I can't go into too much detail about my steps in ACR because each image is different for the most part. Exposure adjustments to taste, white balance to taste etc. I use sRGB color space and 8 bit. Here is an example of a RAW file I edited recently and you can see the basic adjustments I made on the right if you're familiar with ACR...
I'm a firm believer in getting it right in camera and doing as very little as possible when it comes to editing because truthfully...I hate the editing step in photography. But as we all know some images need more work than others.
3. Once the file is converted to a jpeg I open it in CS4 and the first thing I do is crop the image....about 99% of my images are cropped mainly for composition. I use a pre-set crop box set to 11 X 14 at 300 ppi. All of my images are edited as prints and 11 X 14 seems to be a common size...if I or someone else wants smaller prints I just resize the 11 X 14 accordingly.
4. My next step is noise reduction. I use the surface blur filter in CS4 to remove the noise. I select the subject and anything else that I want sharpened in the image with the quick selection tool ( " + " selected) with the brush set to "8". With the things selected in the image that I want sharpened I right click and choose "select inverse". I then choose "refine edge" and in this menu I have the radius set to 1.4 px, contrast at 9%, smooth at 10, feather at 3.7 px and contract/expand at 0%. I then do a surface blur (because once you have done the select inverse what I'm working on now is the background) with my settings at radius 10 and threshold at 3. I usually do this step twice depending on the amount of noise I'm dealing with.
5. Sharpening is next. I right click and choose "select inverse" once again and now I'm shaprening the things I want sharp and not touching the background. I again right click and choose "refine edge" and all my settings are the same in the menu except for the last part...I usually set the contract/expand to -20 to -40 percent. I use the smart sharpen filter only...amount 80%, radius 3.3, lens blur is chosen in the "remove" part and I have "more accurate" checked.
A little bit about how I sharpen my images......the hardest thing I had to deal with was how much of the sharpening filter I needed to apply to a print without actually having to print it out as a test to see if it was correct. I wasted a lot of ink and paper doing my testing and I was at a frustration point when thankfully another photographer gave me some suggestions on another forum. He explained the hardest thing with editing images is actually seeing what the print will look like without having to print it out. He devised a formula on his own and has shared it with a few people that asked for help...I was one of them. The unfortunate thing is I lost his PM so I can't pass on the exact details of his steps but he explained you need to find the resolution of the monitor you use (mine is 90) and to see the exact results of your sharpening filter you need to duplicate the image and resize it to your monitor resolution. Once you figure out how much of the filter you need to apply you use a multiplier of 3.3 and multiply 3.3 by the radius you use in the smart sharpen filter....you never change the percentage when applying the smart sharpen filter to the print...only the radius. I have lost a few people when I try to explain this step but to me I understand it and I don't even think about it anymore.
6. I then do a curves adjustment to taste and maybe depending on the image I will go into the selective color menu and add +2 - +4 of yellow and neutral color by moving the black slider up...it seems to give the image a bit more pop.
7. Re-sizing for web display is my last step...what I post on the internet is actually a by-product of my prints. I re-size the largest side of the document dimensions to 2.666 inches which makes the image 800 pixels on the longest side. Here is a screen capture of all the boxes I have checked when I resize the image for web display....the last box should have the "bicubic sharper" chosen.