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Raw camera files are the equivalent of digital negatives. A raw file represents the unmodified data captured by a camera's sensor. In contrast, a JPEG or TIFF file downloaded from a digital camera has already been processed. This limits the degree of latitude you have making further adjustments to the file. Not all cameras offer the option of raw file output, but if your camera does, then you can take significant advantage of this digital negative. In this video, we'll take a look at Adobe Camera Raw, also known as ACR.
This is the raw processing module that comes with Photoshop. So let's go to our exercise files, and let's go to chapter5, and you'll find in here the mansion.CR2. CR2 just happens to be the extension for Canon raw files. Depending on the model, your camera you may have a different extension. But it's just a way of identifying raw files. So let's double-click on this. This takes us into Adobe Camera Raw, or ACR, and basically it gives us a set of controls that we can adjust this image.
Now the difference between this and what happens when you would already have this file just in Photoshop itself is that a file you're going to work on in Photoshop is generally a 24-bit file. That's 8-bits of color per channel. When you're working with a raw file, you're working with unmodified data from the camera, and it has much more headroom in it. Generally, there's about 12 bits of information in it. So it's got a lot more headroom in it to make adjustments without causing visual artifacts to occur within the image, and that's one of the primary benefits of working with this unmodified data.
Now before we go actually into modifying the data, I want to point this out that another key part of what you can benefit from Adobe Camera Raw is right here, and this is the Lens Correction filter. We talked about this in another movie, but I just want to bring up it again. If at all possible, have this enabled, because you can see here, if I turn the preview on and off now, that it's made a nice adjustment for the optics of the particular lens I was using. So this is another benefit of Camera Raw, and I just want to point out so you can see how wide ranging this module alone can be to working with a raw file versus a processed file.
Now let's go back to the first tab, which is the basic tab, and I generally work more or less from top to bottom the way these are organized, and right now I'm not going to touch Exposure yet, although it may go back to it. Recovery and Fill Light are generally the two sliders I like to initially work with. The Recovery slider recovers highlights, so it's going to start to tone down your image a little bit. The Fill Light, on the other hand, starts to open up your shadows. And as I've been saying, there's really no correct setting for this.
Once I start playing with these, however, I may see, okay, the Exposure slider may help out a little here. So I'm going to turn this down, and you want a constantly kind of check your previewing. Now one little shortcut you can use is rather than going up here and clicking on this, if you just press the P key, it's a nice way to toggle between preview and non-preview. So it lets me make adjustments and quickly get a preview of what those adjustments are doing.
You can see how that's starting to look much more, as we've been talking about, I'm getting rid of that wide dynamic range where only certain parts of the image are properly exposed. Now the overall image is starting to be properly exposed. So you can go on and get into a lot of other controls here, but I find for the most part, just the top three, Exposure, Recovery, and Fill Light, do the job for me, and this is where you really going to get that change from the language of photography into the language of painting.
So ACR in conjunction with raw files offers the greatest tonal adjustment latitude and the highest quality results. If you have the capability and are willing to shoot in raw format, you owe it to yourself to master this powerful tool.
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