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Camera Raw 6, which comes with Photoshop CS5, includes a brand-new feature that allows you to add natural film style grain to a photo. In the past, adding grain was something that you could do only inside of Photoshop using a combination of features that you just had to know one of those secret handshakes. Now with the addition of the grain feature in Camera Raw 6, you have a choice. To show you the grain feature, I am going to open an image into Camera Raw that is not a raw image but rather a JPEG. You can do this with a raw image but I like this JPEG because I have sepia toned it and I had to go out of Camera Raw to do that.
So to open a JPEG into Camera Raw, either in Mini Bridge or in the standalone Bridge CS5, I am going to right-click on the thumbnail of the image and I am going to choose Open in Camera Raw. So yes there is a JPEG open in Camera Raw 6 so that I can use any of the features here in Camera Raw to adjust it. I am going to go to a new tab in Camera Raw 6, the Effects tab and there I'll find the Grain sliders. To get a true sense of how the grain will look on this image, I am going to make sure that it is set to 100% view.
Then I will go over to the controls and I am going to start with the Amount control. As soon as I move that the tiniest bit, the Size and Roughness controls come into view. The Amount control determines how much grain I'm going to add to the image. The further I go to the right, the more grain I start to see inside of the image. As I pull the Amount slider to the right, I start to see more and more grain in the image. I am going to take that back a bit. I think that's a little too much for this image. Then I will move down to the other sliders.
Then I'll fine-tune the grain in the image using the Size and Roughness sliders. The Size slider controls how fine each piece of grain is. As I drag to the right, the grain starts to be a little blurrier looking. So I am going to take that back until it looks just right to me, about there. And then there is the Roughness slider. The Roughness slider is kind of like a contrast setting. At low numbers, you can see that the grain is very contrasting and shows up very well. If I want a little less obvious grain, I will drag the Roughness slider to the right until the grain is more subtle and to my liking.
Now if I have other similar photos that I would like to apply the same grain settings to, I can save these as a preset. To do that I will go to this panel menu on the Effects tab and I will choose Save Settings. Here I can choose which settings I want to save. I don't need to save all of them. So I am going to go into the Subset menu and I am going to choose Details. And then I'll uncheck everything except Grain, and I will click save. I can give this a name. So I could call this sepia grain and I will click Save.
Then with any image open, I can come back to that menu, choose Load Settings and go find my sepia grain settings. So why would I want to add grain to a photo? Several reasons come to mind. As you see it here, grain can be used to add a sort of an historical look to a photo, particularly a black and white or sepia toned photo. Another reason to add grain is to simulate a particular grainy film stock from back in the days of traditional film. And if your attempts to control noise reduction had made a photo look too smooth, then adding a little grain can bring back some truth and texture to the photo.
So Grain is a nice little additive effect for you play with in Adobe Camera Raw 6.
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