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The Basic panel, which is over here on the right side in the Adobe Camera Raw window, is where you'll do most of the processing of your raw files. This is where the essential controls live. I'd like to show you how to use these controls on this image, which is skulls_0015.CRW from the Chapter 9 Exercise Files folder. I opened this file from Adobe Bridge into Adobe Camera Raw. First I'll make sure that the Basic tab is selected here in the right-hand column. That shows me these controls.
The first control here is the White Balance control. White balance is about the color of the light in which you shoot a photo. The color of a light can affect the overall color of a photograph. For example, if you shoot in fluorescent lights, there can be a green cast to an image. The purpose of the White Balance controls here in Adobe Camera Raw is to compensate for the color of light in which a raw file is shot. You use these controls to neutralize the overall colorcast of the image. If you're shooting JPEG you have to rely on the white balance controls in your camera, but when you are shooting Raw, it doesn't matter how your camera's white balance controls are set, because you can always change the white balance here in the Adobe Camera Raw window.
There are a couple of ways to do that. One way is to get this White Balance tool from the toolbox at the top of the screen, and then to come into the image and try to find an area that you think should be gray and click on that. So I am going to try clicking here on this gray area of this plate. That's not a bad result, but if I were to click somewhere else, say in the horns here, I get a result that's too blue. So I don't often use this eyedropper, because its results are so variable. Instead I'll come in and start from the White Balance menu here, which offers a number of presets.
The As Shot preset is the way that the image looks right out of the camera. The auto setting is Adobe Camera Raw's best guess at how the white balance should be set. I'll just run through these one by one until I see a result that's close to the way that I want it. There is the Daylight setting, which makes it quite warm; the Cloudy setting, it's even warmer; the Shade setting, and so on. I think in this case probably Daylight isn't bad, and then after I select from that menu, I'll come down to the Temperature and Tint sliders and fine-tune that result.
If I move the Temperature slider to the right, the image gets more gold or more warm, and if I move to left, the image gets more blue or more cool. I am going to go somewhere in between, maybe right about there. You'll notice as I move that slider, that the numbers here are changing. These numbers represent units of measurement on the Kelvin scale, which is scale that's used to measure the temperature of light. I can also vary the Tint slider, which goes from green on end to magenta on the other. When I am working with a photograph of a person, I'll often add a little magenta here.
In this case I am going to back off, put it just about right where it was to start with. After adjusting the White Balance, I'll move down to the Exposure slider. What this slider does is set a white point in the image, similar to the White Point slider in the Levels Adjustment panel and in the Curves Adjustment panel. I want to set a point that should be bright white, but I also don't want to lose detail in the white portions of the image. Before I use this slider I come up and make sure that the Highlight clipping warning is turned on, in other words it has this little white border around it, and that will let me see if I go too far with this setting.
Then I'll take the Exposure slider, and I will move it over to the right to brighten the image, and if I go too far, I'll see areas like this red here and here, telling me that those particular pixels are being set to pure white with no detail. And then I'll back off a little until I don't see those warnings anymore and I'll leave the slider there to set my white point. Now I am going to drag this slider over to the right to show you that there may be times when I just can't get rid of the red highlight warnings by moving the Exposure slider to where I want it.
In a case like that, I'll set the Exposure slider where I think it should be visually, and then I'll come down to the Recovery slider and I'll drag that to the right. What the Recovery slider does is give you the opportunity to bring back some blown out highlights in an overexposed image. That by the way is one of the benefits of shooting Raw over shooting JPEG, that you do have this opportunity to recover detail in highlights. I am going to the Recovery slider back, and in this case I am going to move that Exposure slider back to the left. So I might set it just about there.
And then I'll turn off my Highlight clipping warnings. The next slider I'll use is the Blacks slider. This slider sets the black point in the image. It's similar to the Blacks slider in the Levels Adjustment panel and in the Curves Adjustment panel. Before I use this slider, I'll go up and turn on the Shadow clipping warning on the histogram by clicking it so it has this white outline around it, and then I'll come in and drag the Blacks slider all the way to the left and then start moving it to the right. I don't have to go very far in this image before I can see these blue clipping warnings here and here, and over in the red peppers.
So I will just leave this slider where it is and then I'll go up and click the Shadow clipping warning again to turn it off. If I want to try to bring in some detail in those clipped black areas, then I'll use the Fill Light slider here moving that over to the right to bring in some light into the darkest areas. It doesn't really do anything for me in this particular case, so I'm going to drag it back. But I do want to make the point that the Recovery slider and the Fill Light sliders are among the most useful sliders here. Remember that you can use Recovery slider to try to bring back detail in the highlights, and the Fill Light slider to try to bring back detail in the darkish shadows.
Next there is a Brightness setting here. It's at its default now. If I want to make the entire image darker, I drag the Brightness settings to the left, and if I want to make the entire image brighter, I'll drag the Brightness setting to the right. This setting is similar to the Gray slider in the Levels and Curves Adjustment panels inside Photoshop. Moving it doesn't disturb the white and black points. It just repositions the gray pixels in between. The next slider adjusts contrast. I usually leave the Contrast slider as it is and instead I'll make my adjustments to contrast here in the Tone Curve tab, which I address in another movie.
The Tone Curve tab is similar to curves in Photoshop proper. Next we have a Clarity slider. This almost always makes an image look better. If I drag the Clarity slider to the right, look what happens. The image just gets a little sharper and pops a little more. The next slider is the Vibrance slider, and before I show you that I want to show you my cursor, which now looks like a hand with a double pointed arrow. Whenever I hover just above one of the sliders, the cursor changes to that icon, and that means that I can just click-and-drag.
It's called scrubbing from left to right, to move the slider. I don't actually have to click on the slider triangle to vary the control. What Vibrance does is add a bit of saturation in the less saturated areas of an image. So, if I move Saturation way over to the right, you'll see that everything in this image gets saturated. I'll put that back to 0 and show you that if I move Vibrance over to the right, it doesn't overdo the areas that already are quite saturated in color. You are welcome to use the Vibrance slider to adjust saturation, but you may prefer to use the controls in another tab, which is this one here in the HSL/Grayscale tab.
From here you can change the saturation of individual colors in an image. We'll learn how to do that in another movie. But for now I go back to the Basic tab where I am done showing you the controls that are available here. These really are the essential controls for processing an image in Adobe Camera Raw. One thing I like about these controls is that they are all in one place, so they are easy to find and they are pretty straightforward in the way that they behave, making them a pleasure to work with.
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