Adobe Camera RAW 7.0 Tutorial for Photographers – Photoshop CS6
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or fresh out of the gate with your first quality digital camera, shooting your photographs in RAW is an absolute must to achieve higher quality results with your photographs. In the following tutorial and Photoshop CS6 feature run-down, we’re going to cover all the new features in Camera RAW 7.0 that I think are the best and ones that you’re going to use the most! Drop a comment if you have additional questions or suggestions!
One of my favorite things about the Camera RAW editor is that you can open it with either Photoshop or the Bridge. This allows you to work on RAW files in the Bridge while Photoshop batch processes or renders large images, etc… To open an image using Camera RAW in the Bridge simply select that image and hit Cmd/Ctrl + R.
Introduction to Camera RAW
The Camera RAW editor is included with Photoshop. If you purchased (or ‘acquired’) Photoshop, you will have Camera RAW. Camera RAW allows you to edit images outside of Photoshop in a very refined way, much different from the normal interface of Photoshop. Most importantly, Camera RAW allows us to pass images into Photoshop where we can further edit them!
TIP: In addition to your camera’s native Camera RAW files, you can use the Camera RAW editor to edit JPEG and TIFF files by right clicking those files in The Adobe Bridge and choosing “Open in Camera Raw…”
Let’s jump into this tutorial!
Opening RAW Files
To open a Camera RAW file using Photoshop, go File>Open and double click the RAW file you would like to open. NOTE: RAW file formats vary depending on the camera you use. Canon is .CR2, Nikon is .NEF, Adobe even has a RAW format (which I love!) .DNG, and the list goes on and on. Check out your camera’s manual for info.
Camera RAW Dialog
What you will see is the Camera RAW editor. Long story short, Adobe did some serious overhauling to this dialog and you will be able to beautifully push the limits of your images beyond anything you could in previous versions of Adobe Camera RAW. Things like artifacting, chromatic aberrations, and noise all are kept under much, much better control in Adobe Camera Raw 7.0, or ACR7 as we’ll call it.
Convert to 2012 Process (Camera RAW 7)
The image that I opened with Camera RAW has previously been edited in ACR6-which ships with Adobe Photoshop CS5. We want to edit this in ACR7 and we can do this by telling Camera RAW to update this image to the current process (Adobe Camera RAW 7 is current!) by clicking the little exclamation point in the bottom right of the image.
New Sliders, New Editor
The panel of sliders on the right will update and ACR7 will try to use settings that are somewhere near what the image previously had. Typically you will need to make some adjustments to tweak your picture a bit more.
The sliders in ACR7 all have the ability for positive and negative values for any of these settings (plus/minus Whites, Blacks, Contrast, etc… etc…) and allows for a much broader range of option. I’m going to push my Exposure to 1.80. Exposure controls the mid-tones in your image. All that stuff in the middle of your histogram.
Contrast is Contrast and I’m going to bump mine up to an even +55. Highlights control the brighter portion of your image (we’ll talk about “Whites” in just a second) and because the sky is getting blown out here I’m going to pull this way back, all the way back to -100.
The Shadows slider is really going to target the darker portions of the image. I want to pour a little more light into the shadows so I’m going to push this up to +55. NOTE: The more you darken your highlights and brighten your shadows the less contrast your image will have. Contrast and Curves will be there to help you.
Whites & Blacks
The Whites and Blacks sliders target the highlights/shadows in a much tighter fashion than the Highlights/Shadows sliders did. There is a focus specifically on both ends of the histogram. Bright, bright and dark, dark areas of the image will be targeted, respectively. I am going to set my Whites to -100 and my Blacks to +50.
Artifacting, Chromatic Aberrations, & Noise Reduction
Other than the huge slider update and the massive back end performance boost with the much better prevention of artifacting, aberration, and noise worked in, ACR7 has included much better control of color and noise when using the Graduated Filter and Adjustment Brush tools.
The Graduated Filter Tool
Using the Graduated Filter tool (G), I will introduce much more orange and pink into the sky by boosting the Temperature and Tint to +20 and +100, respectively. Drag a gradient straight down from the top of the image to apply the effect. I also reduced the Exposure and boosted the Contrast.
The Adjustment Brush
By adjusting the Tint and a bunch of the other sliders I am able to brighten and pour in a bunch of contrast over the sand to give a neat look to the photograph. Check out the screenshot for all the settings. Also note that the adjustment brush gives you the option to “Reduce Noise”, this is extremely useful when brightening very dark areas of your image where noise tends to start appearing.
To correct and reduce the vignette around this image select the Hand tool (H) to view the normal editing options and select the Lens Correction icon near all the other icons and choose the “Manual” tab and increase or decrease your vignette “Amount” until it looks just right.
Workflow Options Dialog
Not necessarily new to ACR7, but very important to your success using the Camera RAW editor is workflow options link at the bottom of the dialog box. Click it to open a little dialog box of goodness.
Opening Your Image in Photoshop
In this dialog box you can choose the color space you want to work in (stay away from sRGB!), the bit depth (if your computer can handle it, 16-Bit is much, much better), the size of the image to be opened, and much more! Hit OK to commit the changes and then either press “Open Image” to open it in Photoshop CS6 or hit “Done” to save those Camera RAW changes to that RAW file and close the ACR7 editor.