Camera Raw’s Basic tab contains a lot of parameters, and they all interact and influence each other. To help you understand how to approach a typical image-editing task in Camera Raw, here’s a start-to-finish example of a typical raw edit.
Slightly overexposed image
Figure 4.57 shows Camera Raw’s default conversion of a simple landscape shot. While the overall exposure is OK, there’s a little bit of overexposure, and the image is a little washed out. The histogram confirms that there’s no true black in the image and that the lowest tones are weak.
Figure 4.57 This image has some slight overexposure and a general lack of punch, which we’ll fix using Camera Raw.
Our first step, as always, is to crop and straighten the image. I’ll crop first to get the overall crop that I like. Mostly, my goal is to eliminate as much of the tree in the upper left corner as possible, as it’s distracting. Next, I’ll use the Straighten tool to straighten out the horizon. The result can be seen in Figure 4.58.
Figure 4.58 We begin with a crop and straighten to ensure that we can achieve a composition we like before we start editing.
Overall, white balance looks OK, and switching the White Balance pop-up menu from As Shot to Daylight doesn’t make any difference. The image might benefit from a little warming, but at this point, I’m going to save that step for later.
The histogram indicates that the image has a tiny bit of highlight clipping—note the white spike on the right side. By moving the Recovery slider to the right, to about 33, I can eliminate the overexposure. The Highlight Clipping display indicated that the overexposure was on the highlights of the white truck—areas that don’t have a lot of detail anyway, so this recovery doesn’t produce a huge change in the image, but it’s still worth doing, as these details might be noticeable in print.
In general, the image lacks punch and contrast. The bulk of the tones are piled up on the right side of the image. I’m going to dial the Exposure slider down to about –.85 to give richness to the sky, and to move all of those bright tones more to the middle. This will give the colors in the image a little more saturation (Figure 4.59).
Figure 4.59 After using the Recovery slider to fix the slight bit of overexposure, we lower the Exposure slider to restore saturation to the colors and strengthen the dark tones.
Now the image is too dark and still lacks contrast. By moving the Contrast slider to the right, I can increase the contrast in the image (Figure 4.60). This will strengthen the blacks and move the brighter tones back toward white, thus brightening the image. I’ll also add a Clarity adjustment to bring more detail to the fine textures in the image and to improve the separation of the clouds and sky.
Figure 4.60 Using the Contrast slider, we correct the contrast in the image.
That’s it for the raw adjustments, though there are still some things I’d like to fix. Next I open the image in Photoshop and use the Rubber Stamp tool to eliminate the tree and a little bit of the cloud. The final image is shown in Figure 4.61.
Figure 4.61 Once we’re in Photoshop, the Rubber Stamp tool makes short work of removing the tree in the corner.