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In Photoshop CS5 Essential Training, author Michael Ninness demonstrates how to produce the highest quality images with fantastic detail in the shortest amount of time, using a combination of Photoshop CS5, Adobe Bridge, and Camera Raw. This course shows the most efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, Michael shares the secrets of non-destructive editing, utilizing and mastering Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more. Exercise files are included with the course.
If you're watching this video, perhaps you've heard other people talking about shooting Raw and had little or no idea what they were talking about. In simplest terms, a raw file is a digital negative. Like film negatives that came before them, you can develop multiple prints or versions from this digital negative, and each version can actually be dramatically different. Before we had the option to capture digital images in raw format, we typically captured our photographs as JPEGs. Now when you shoot in JPEG format, your camera is actually making a significant number of choices for you.
Things like exposure and saturation, sharpness, etcetera. While you can certainly edit some of these choices in Photoshop, the amount of change you can make is going to be limited. Let's take a look at these two images to actually see what I'm talking about. You can see I've got both files are of the exact same image, but one was captured as a JPEG, and the other was captured as a Raw file. Now, if I were to double-click on this JPEG file, Bridge would automatically pass that JPEG over to Photoshop, where you would then be able to edit it there. I actually want to edit this in something called Camera Raw.
So a slight different distinction there. A Raw file is kind of a generic file format and there are lots of different versions of raw files. Each camera manufacturer kind of saves out their own version of a raw file. So if you're shooting with a Canon, you might see the file extension at the end of your filenames end in .cr2, or if you are shooting with an Nikon it might be .nef and so on. DNG is another common file format for raw files. So here you see .dng that's a raw file. So rather than open up this JPEG in Photoshop, I'm going to click on it and then use the Open in Camera Raw button.
That will open up this file in the Camera Raw editor that's included inside Adobe Bridge. Now, this image is obviously overexposed and it doesn't have low of detail in the highlights. In fact what the camera settings used to capture this image, the camera did not capture any detail in the hair of the dog. So let's go ahead and zoom up here and you can see what I mean. There's just basically solid white. There are no details in that particular area of the image. Now I can try to use the Recovery slider in Camera Raw to reveal the detail in the highlights, but because this file was captured as JPEG, no additional detail was captured and included in the file for us to access.
So you can see here, even though I moved that Recovery slider all the way over to the right, basically the camera just saw a big area of white. It didn't put any extra detail in the file for us to reveal. That's the simplest explanation there. It just doesn't include very much information in the JPEG file format. I'm going to go ahead and hit Cancel, and instead, let's double-click on the raw file. Now because it's a raw file, when you double-click on it in Bridge, it doesn't get opened in Photoshop directly, because Photoshop doesn't actually know what to do with a raw file. Instead, it automatically gets intercepted by the Camera Raw Editor.
So let's go ahead and double-click. You'll see it opens Camera Raw automatically. So you can see on the right we still have those same sliders that we had when we were working with the JPEG file. And it may feel like you're editing this Raw file, but it turns out you're never actually editing the Raw files directly. Raw files are locked digital negatives. Instead you're going to be making a series of choices of how you want this Raw file to be processed before you then go on to open it in Photoshop, and eventually save it out as a JPEG or a Photoshop file or any other file format you might need to use.
Let's take a look at the significant difference though. If I take that Recovery slider all the way over to the right, you'll see magically, hidden detail that wasn't there before is now appearing in that hair of the dog. And if I even take the Exposure slider down and drag it to the left, you can see that file actually did contain a ton of extra information, you just didn't see it at first. So you've just learned the secret of a raw file. A raw file is not getting processed by the camera. It's not throwing away extra information. It's keeping all the information that the camera actually sees.
Your initial view on that information though is whatever the settings you used in the camera. So obviously, I didn't use the right exposure for capturing the dog. That's why it looked white initially. But the power of the Camera Raw editor here lets me have access to that hidden information. Let's go ahead and hit Cancel. You'll learn a lot more about working with JPEGs and Raw files in the Camera Raw editor and see the power of that processing software, but in a nutshell, that's the big differences between JPEGs and Raw. Whenever you have the option, you typically want to shoot Raw, so you have the flexibility and the power to be able to make choices after the fact and take advantage of that extra rich information.
If you have a low-end consumer camera that you just carry around in your pocket, you may only have the option to shoot JPEG, and then the more expensive cameras you buy have usually the option to shoot Raw as well. And when in a pinch, if you want to have the flexibility of not having to process every Raw file and have JPEGs as well, a lot of cameras actually have the option to shoot both JPEG and Raw at the same time, which is what we used here to get these two different versions captured at the same moment in time but one was saved out as a JPEG for quick editing, and one was saved out as a Raw. So I'll just close with saying one disadvantage of Raw is because it is a digital negative, it has to be processed in order for you to be able to use it.
So while you get more power and more flexibility, it actually does end up creating more work for you.
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