What is a Raw Image File?
So before we break down how to use Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop, we need to know exactly what it means. The real question is, what is a Raw image? A Raw image contains minimally process data from a digital camera. Raw files are named so because they haven’t been processed yet and converted to a “positive” file format such as a TIFF or Jpeg. Once your Raw file is converted, it will be ready for storage, printing and further manipulation. RAW files are 16-bit images, meaning they contain a lot more information than a Jpeg (8-bit image). We recommend for you photographers out there to always photograph in Raw format because of how much information it will give you when editing. This comes in handy when bringing down highlights or bumping up shadows. There is a greater amount of detail for you to work with as oppose to working with an 8-bit image.
Adobe Camera RAW
Shooting in Raw means that you’ll need to take your image to a Raw processing program. From Lightroom to Aperture, there are many Raw processing programs out there at your disposal. Photoshop actually comes with a built in Raw processor called, Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). Lightroom actually uses s a very similar processor. We jump into Photoshop to show you the power of starting off with using our Basic Adjustments. This is a good area to adjust things such as Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks. Next we jump into our Tone Curve. We use this to grab our Highlights, Lights, Darks and Shadows. It’s very similar to using Curves in Photoshop. Next up is our Detail. This works great for things like Sharpening and Noise Reduction. The following tap is our Color. We use this to adjust our Hue, Saturation and Luminance. Next is Split Toning. This allows you to bring Colors into your Shadows and Highlights. Next is Lens Corrections. This is used to adjust Distortion and Vignetting. The next tab over enables us to adjust effects like Dehaze, Grain and Post Crop Vignetting. Next is Camera Calibration. This allows you to save out Presets for your camera. Maybe you want the Saturation bumped down a bit and the Reds up a tad. Set your Adjustments to your liking and then save those settings. Now every time you bring in a new image you can use your custom Preset.
Bringing It All Together
We save out our image and then open a copy in Photoshop. From here the process is similar to HDR. We adjust the Highlights and Shadows and save out different copies of the image. Next we Layer Mask in the parts of the images that we wish to keep. This gives us a ton of control when bringing back information from the Highlights and Shadows. In the image we used, we were able to bring detail from the sky back. We also were able to bring up details in her dress as well while not over exposing other parts of the image. In the end we are able to show how effective is was for us to use ACR to edit an image in Photoshop.