What you’ve seen in this chapter are the Camera Raw tools that you’ll use on almost all of your raw images. While there are more controls to explore, these are the foundation, workhorse options that you’ll soon become very familiar with. In the next chapter, we’ll explore more advanced editing features provided in both Camera Raw for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, but all of those features will assume an understanding of the basic functionality, tone, and color adjustments that we’ve performed here.
In particular, you’ll want to remember these basic concepts:
- The Exposure slider brightens or darkens your image, and serves as a very good tool for controlling the brightest parts of your image.
- If they’re not overexposed too far, you can recover overexposed highlights using both the Recovery and Exposure sliders.
- The Blacks slider sets the black point of your image, allowing you to control how dark the darkest tones in your image are. The lowest quartertones in your image are affected by this slider.
- The Brightness slider adjusts the middle tones in your image without moving the white or black point (usually—it is possible for the Brightness slider to push the white point).
- The Contrast slider expands contrast by brightening the bright parts of your image while simultaneously darkening the darker parts of your image.
- The Temperature and Tint sliders let you adjust the white balance of your image, giving you dramatic color changes with no loss of image data.
These are the core editing controls in Camera Raw. In addition, Vibrance and Saturation let you control the saturation of colors in your image, while the Clarity control can bring out fine detail.
Finally, remember that Camera Raw is a nondestructive system. At no time will your original raw file be altered, meaning you can easily process the same raw file in many different ways. Any time you open or save a raw file, or click the Done button, Camera Raw stores all of the parameters that you’ve defined.
As you’ve seen, there’s no set, “correct” order for using these tools. You should work with them interactively, using the histogram to guide you through your edits.
Take some time to practice processing your own raw images. You want to not only understand Camera Raw’s controls, but also get a feeling for how much the images from your particular camera can be adjusted. As you develop a sense of how much adjustment your images can sustain, you will have an easier time recognizing and visualizing images when shooting.
In a typical image-editing workflow, your next step would be to open your processed image in Photoshop and perform any edits that you couldn’t make in Camera Raw. These could run the gamut from additional color and tone correction to complex retouching and composites.
However, many versions of Camera Raw include additional tools beyond those that we’ve explored in this chapter. We’ll explore these in detail in Chapter 5.