Have had some injury issues recently which have provided me with some time to commence those long overdue PS tutorials. First thing I've discovered is the power of Camera RAW as a preparatory image editing option. Camera Raw is defined as a parametric (non destructive) editor, recording and saving all settings as a list of instructions (metadata) and what is seen on the screen isn’t really the edited image. By comparison Photoshop is what’s known as a pixel-based editor, editing destructively by altering the original image information. I've noticed that many peoples workflow when using PS is becoming more complicated than brain surgery and I can't see why it needs to be so complicated. RAW seems to be the perfect tool for evaluating an images capabilities without having to use copious layers and masks. I think I'd prefer to use these sparingly. Multiple images taken under the same conditions can also be edited concurrently.
Photoshop Essentials explains it well.
"..............When you combine all these advantages together – that Camera Raw is streamlined for photo editing, that it’s completely non-destructive, and that you can edit two or more images at the same time – you come up with an undeniable fact. Camera Raw is just plain faster than Photoshop......."
The option to compare different versions of work and decide which I like best — e.g, colour, black and white, a mix of black and white and colour, straight, highly-stylized look etc. is particularly attractive from both a creative aspect and time factor. I've not yet decided whether I'm going to use Bridge as an entry portal, but knowing the basics of RAW will be a definite advantage for the post processing workflow.