A Basic Guide to Adobe Camera RAW

Well as this is a basic tutorial of the topic let’s start by answering some general questions.

Qs: What is a RAW image?

Ans: When using a Professional Camera such as any in the Nikon D range, Sony Alpha range or Cannon EOS range (Cannon has many other professional ranges) the camera has a special format to capture pictures in, called the RAW format. The RAW format is a unique format that has a very high bit rate, this means that the camera lens along with the aid of its processor manages to capture allot of detail in its image, details that your average pc monitor or LCD screen cannot show.

Qs: What’s the benefit of using the RAW format?

Ans: The immense details help in the editing process, e.g. while editing the exposure of the image you are increasing or decreasing the amount of light in the image, when the exposure of the RAW image is increased the light is already present in the image (the software just enables you to see more light in the image). This way the image is as clear and original as if you had taken the picture originally with a higher EV (exposure value) number. The main purpose of using a RAW image is to keep the quality and depth of the image at its maximum so as to achieve the optimum end result.

Qs: What is Adobe Camera RAW?

Ans: Adobe camera RAW is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop that allows you to directly edit RAW images without having to change the format of the image before editing (Photoshop versions before CS2 couldn’t process RAW images directly). Besides Adobe camera RAW there is also a new program called Adobe Light Room which allows you to edit RAW files directly.

The picture on the right shows you the basic layout of the RAW editor in Light Room. The exact options can only be found in the Camera Raw Photoshop plug-in for its CS4 version.

Qs: What do the different settings and options do?

Ans: Well here’s a basic overview of the software.

Crop Tool: Allows you to crop a section of the image and also allows you to align the image to your taste.

Spot Removal Tool: Lets you correct small imperfections in the image e.g. you sometimes have a lone bird in the sky that doesn’t go well with the composition of the image, this tools allows you to remove that speck in the sky (the bird) by cropping and pasting another bit of sky that is clear.

Red Eye Correction Tool: Basically removes any red eye spots in the eyes of the subjects.

Adjustment Brush: Lets you edit a specific area of the image.

White Balance Tool: One of the best tools around for correcting the white balance of your image (images sometimes have a yellow or blue tone to them). Select the part of the image that you think is white and the software adjusts the rest of the image accordingly.

Temp: The first of the slider adjustments, this allows you to correct the white balance manually, the bar moves from blue from the left towards yellow on the right.

Tint: Another white balance adjustment tool, but this time the colors in focus are green on the left to magenta on the right.

Exposure: As mentioned before exposure controls the amount of light and dark in the image. This setting controls the preference of the user; you can increase or decrease the amount of light in the image.

Recover: Helps to fill light in the dark parts of the image and brings depth into the brighter parts. Works as a correction tool to the Exposure Tool.

Fill light and Blacks: These two allow you to manually increase the amounts of lights and darks in the image. A higher dark tone gives depth to an image.

Brightness: This allows you to adjust the overall brightness of the image, this function only adjusts the midtones of the image i.e. the middle part of the histogram (I need a whole tutorial to explain the histogram), is short this function doesn’t’ affect the brightest of darkest areas of the image.

Contrast: This sets the intensity of color in the picture, this too only affects midtones.

Clarity: This is a great tool; it helps to bring out details in landscapes and buildings, and smoothes out the skin in portrait pictures.

Vibrance: Brings out the colors of the image without affecting its saturation.

Saturation: This adjusts the amount of colors in the image; the slider goes from no color (black and white) to intense overdose of color.

I hope you liked this brief intro into RAW editing.

Please do comment so that I’m encouraged to right more. Thanks!

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Daniel Aswell

Daniel Aswell

A few words from the Author:

Well, I’m currently waiting for June to arrive. I’m all free these days because I’ll be going to Newcastle (England) to study Interior Architecture. I’m basically a fine arts student who’s got a professional photographer for an uncle.

The purpose of my writing these posts is to 1) Share some of my knowledge and 2) To make some quick bucks so that I can get my mother a really awesome parting gift.

Oh, and my name is Danyal (It’s spelled daniel as well).

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