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Raw processing

From: Photoshop Artist in Action: Tim Grey's Photo Optimization Techniques

Video: Raw processing

I've given some thought to how I want to process this image and the key things that I want to be aware of as I'm working on that image. And I think most of those issues can be resolved in the Raw conversion process using the Adobe Camera Raw. So, I'll double-click on the image in Bridge in order to open that Raw Capture in Photoshop which, of course, will bring up the Adobe Camera Raw dialog. And here my primary concern is two-fold. One, I want to focus on overall tonality to try to make sure that I'm retaining a reasonable amount of detail in the image. And two and perhaps most importantly I want to resolve the chromatic aberrations that are evident throughout the photo.

Raw processing

I've given some thought to how I want to process this image and the key things that I want to be aware of as I'm working on that image. And I think most of those issues can be resolved in the Raw conversion process using the Adobe Camera Raw. So, I'll double-click on the image in Bridge in order to open that Raw Capture in Photoshop which, of course, will bring up the Adobe Camera Raw dialog. And here my primary concern is two-fold. One, I want to focus on overall tonality to try to make sure that I'm retaining a reasonable amount of detail in the image. And two and perhaps most importantly I want to resolve the chromatic aberrations that are evident throughout the photo.

I'll start off with my general adjustments. In this case, the color seems reasonably accurate, so I'm going to start off with my adjustments for Tonality. I want to first establish the overall dynamic range of the scene. And so I'm going to start off with the Whites and Blacks sliders. I'll start off with the Blacks. I'll simply hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh and then adjust the black point. And that will give me a clipping preview. And you can see that with the baseline exposure, I have a little bit of detail loss and even a little bit of a Black value.

In this case, I think I'm going to open up the image just a little bit, brightening up those Blacks, so that I don't have quite so much density. And that will help overall in making sure that I'm retaining as much detail as possible. I'm also going to take a look at the white point in a similar way. So I'll hold the alt key on Windows or the option key on MacIntosh once again and take a look at those Whites values. You can probably tell just by looking at this clipping preview that the clipped detail mostly relates to bright lights in the scene. And so I'm not really too terribly concerned about that. I might back off just a little bit, so that we don't get too much of sort of halo type of appearance in those lights.

But by and large, I'm not worried about trying to retain detail in each individual light source since those are obviously very bright relative to the scene. I then take a look at the Highlights and Shadows sliders. I'll start with Shadows, and I'll try and open things up just a little bit and see if a little more detail will work out nicely for the image. And I think it will. I don't want to open up so much detail that it starts to become a distraction but I don't want to block up image either. So I'll try to balance that. I want it to look like night but, of course, the scene is, in some ways illuminate it.

I think right about there will work out pretty well. Then I'll take a look at the highlights and I can choose to brighten or darken those highlights. I think I'll brighten highlights just a little bit, I don't want to go too far but I do want to sort of enhance overall contrast. Since I've opened up the shadows I want to open up the highlights even more you might say. Having adjusted overall tonality that way, I don't need to worry about the Contrast or Exposure sliders. But I will take a look at color temperature. The tonality was my bigger concern, but having addressed that, I'll go ahead and adjust overall color temperature. And I think I'll warm things up a little bit.

The result with the automatic adjustment was a little bit cooler than the actual scene appeared to my eye. And so I'm going to shift toward yellow just a little bit. And then I'll take a look at the Tint slider and see if I want to take it more toward green or more toward magenta. And I think I'll keep it a little bit more toward the magenta side of things. That looks to be a much more accurate rendition of the color as I remember seeing it in the scene. I do think however that the color was a little bit more intense onto those actual circumstances so I come down to the vibrance adjustment and increase that value to bring up the saturation of the colors that are not saturated to begin with.

I might even boost the saturation itself a little bit under relatively dark conditions, the colors and the reflections of all that light really had a strong intensity to it and I want to try to reproduce that intensity in the image. That looks far closer to what I observed than at the scene, specially as regards these smooth water reflections in the middle of the east river here. So I think we're off to a really good start for this photo. I'm also going to take a look at clarity, this is sort of a haze reducer. If we increase the value Or an ethereal maker if we reduce the value, and in this case I think I would tend toward increasing clarity just a little bit.

Certainly the ethereal version of the image could work quite well, but I'm more interested in having kind of a crystal-clear type of scene here. So I'll increase clarity just a little bit. When I do so, I need to make sure that I'm not blocking up too much shadow detail. If I am, I can certainly just open up that shadow detail a little more. But I think in this case we're in pretty good shape, even with that increase in clarity. And now we have moment of truth. I need to fix or at least minimize chromatic aberrations and color fringing in the image, so I'll switch to the lens correction section. And then I am going to go to Color tab and I'll turn on the checkbox for remove chromatic aberration.

I'll then zoom in to the part of image that exhibits chromatic aberration and I'll go ahead and toggle that checkbox off and then on. And you can see, it certainly improved things significantly but not quite enough. So I also need to utilize the defringe options. I'll increase the value for Purple amount first and you'll notice if I increase significantly enough that I get rid of that color fringing, I can also increase the value for the Green amount. But, in this case, I think I actually have a little bit more of a sort of bluish to cyan value, so I'll expand the range for purple hue in order to include those blue values.

But now, you'll notice I'm creating other artifacts in the image. So I'll need to back off on that expansion. Instead, I'll take a look at the green hue and see if I can expand that into that sort of blue cyan range without creating any problems and it looks like I can. I'll need to fine tune the overall settings. But it looks like we're ending up with a reasonably good result here. The challenge with chromatic aberration is that, as you improve the result in one area of the image, you might create a bigger problem in another area of the image.

So it's important to evaluate various areas of the scene in order to determine if you've actually gotten the best results. And now you can see as I navigate to a different area of the image While it was looking very good for the tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, things are looking pretty messy over here. So, I'll need to reduce my range once again, maybe even tone down that Purple Amount value. And, overall, just fine tune my settings so that I'm not expanding into additional color values and creating additional problems for myself. Right about there looks to be a pretty good compromise.

I'll go ahead and take a closer look, though, at that tower of the bridge and there's a little bit of fringing there. Let me see if I can expand my purple range just a little bit in order to improve that. That looks much better. And once again back to the other side and that looks to be a pretty good compromise. So the name of the game when it comes to chromatic aborrations an color fringing is compromise. We'll need to offset one area versus the other, and evaluate multiple areas of the image in order to make sure you're getting the best result possible. But at this point I'm pretty happy with the overall results for my Raw conversions.

So, I'm ready to take this image into Photoshop and perform some cleanup. And perhaps, some additional fine tuning of the image. So, I'll go ahead and click open image. That will process the Raw Capture in Adobe Camera Raw and open the resulting image in Photoshop. And at this point, I'll go ahead and save the result before I even get started. So, I'll chose file, save as. And then I'll specify a file name for the image, I'll save this as a photoshop PSD file and I'll go ahead and click save in order to save that image.

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