My Adventures In Photography

A while back I started a photography column for my hometown's local newspaper — you'll find all of my columns from those pages here as well as new ones that I write.

To see all of my blog posts to date, click here.

Editing photos in Camera Raw

Whether you’re just learning photography or a seasoned professional, you’ll probably at some point be asked, “do you shoot in raw?”

Well, for starters: Raw is a file format your Digital Single Lens Reflex camera is able to shoot in. Unlike a .jpg file, raw files are not compressed and give a photographer much more wiggle room when editing their photos.

Say you take photo that is far too overexposed in some areas — shooting in raw can allow you to get some of that pixel information back.

Similarly, if you take a photo that is too dark, raw can allow you to brighten your photo so it’s properly exposed. If you’re shooting .jpgs you won’t have that luxury.

On the other hand, the benefit of shooting in .jpg is that your camera can read and write the files faster because they’re significantly smaller in file size.

Yeah, this is another one of those “techy” columns.

Regardless of whether you shoot in raw or .jpg, if you have the Adobe photo editing programs (like Photoshop or Lightroom), you have the ability to use a handy little plug-in called Adobe Camera Raw.

Note: If you want to edit .jpgs in CR you’ll need to enable that under preferences; raw files automatically open up in CR if opened from Adobe Bridge.

Lightroom uses the CR plug-in via its own interface, so if things don’t look exactly like what you see in today’s column just know that you basically get the same tools (if not more) just with a different look.

Throughout the years since I switched to raw I’ve been organizing my photos through Adobe Bridge and opening them up in CR to easily color correct them.

The beauty of this plug-in is that you aren’t limited to editing just one photo at a time. If you have several photos that all need to be edited in a similar way, you can open them all up in CR and apply the effects of the first photo you edit to the rest.

It’s amazingly simple.

I use CR for pretty much all of my editing other than skin correction (which I use Photoshop for). More after the break.

BASIC CATEGORY

A nice thing about shooting in raw and editing in CR is that if you take a photo that has its white balance off by a considerable amount, you can conveniently correct that problem by adjusting the temperature slider.

All of the temperature information for the scene is recorded when you shoot in raw, so recovering a photo from looking too orange or blue is simple.

If your photos are too overexposed you can adjust the highlights slider to recover some of that pixel information. If your photo is too dark, simply increase the exposure slider.

Is your photo kind of dull? Try increasing the vibrance or saturation slider (within reason).

DETAIL CATEGORY

Another great thing about CR is that you can correct for in-camera noise and sharpen your photos easily by clicking on the “detail” icon and changing up the sliders under that category.

Many times when I go out to shoot night photography I have to resort to using higher ISOs and being able to decrease some of the image noise in post production processing is awesome.

LENS CORRECTIONS CATEGORY

If you’re using a lens that creates a lot of distortion or vignetting, CR has built in lens profiles that can counteract those nasty effects on your images automatically.

Simply check the “enable profile corrections” box under the “lens corrections” category. If you shot in raw, CR can easily tell which lens you used when you took whatever images you’re editing and apply corrections as needed.

You also can manually go in and adjust the corrections yourself if you desire.

Adobe Camera Raw has a few more bells and whistles to it, but the three categories I’ve featured today are the main ones I use when editing my photographs.

The option to open your images in Photoshop is always available when editing in CR and if you make edits in CR you always have the option of reverting the raw file back to what it was out of the camera to start again.

CR also automatically saves a .xmp file along with your raw file so that the settings you applied to your raw image stay applied even after you click “done.”

I use this plug-in largely for its simple interface and its ability to process and save multiple images at once without having to go through every single photo individually.

Check to see if your camera can shoot in raw by looking at your camera’s manual or by perusing the menu. If you have Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom you already have Adobe Camera Raw plug-in.

Give it a try if you’re stuck editing photos one-by-one. It might speed up your workflow and make editing more enjoyable.