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As many of you know, the last several versions of Photoshop have shipped along with Camera Raw, which is essentially the Development Module from Lightroom, built free into Photoshop. And what it allows you to do is develop images captured in your digital camera's RAW file format. You can also adjust the colors of JPEG and TIFF images oftentimes with more control than you can using Photoshop's color adjustment tools. Now, every version of Photoshop includes an enhanced version of Camera Raw. This one isn't going to look like that much of an advancement at first, but there's a ton of stuff going on under the hood that's going to make your images potentially look much, much better than in the past.
I'm looking at an image I captured of the Pont du Gard in Southern France, and it's a kind of place you're probably only going to visit once in your life if that. I like the composition of this shot, but the exposure leaves a heck of a lot to be desired. So what I did was I took this image and I developed it inside of ACR 6, which is the version of Camera Raw that shipped along with Photoshop CS5. And from this distance it looks pretty darn good, but if I zoom-in on the image I can start to see a lot of artifacting going on.
There's a ton of noise in the shadow details under the arch. And then I have these weird aberrant edges that showed up, a dark edge on the light side and a light edge on the dark side and then these sort of outlines around some of the shadow details. None of those problems are apparent in the original image. These are artifacts that were added as a result of my cranking up the Recovering Fill Light values. That is a problem we no longer have inside of ACR 7, which is the version of Camera Raw that ships along with Photoshop CS6.
So let me show you what I mean. I'm going to select that ACR 6 layer and I'll go up to the layer menu and choose Smart Objects and then choose New Smart Object via layer, which will create an independent version of this layer and I'll go ahead and rename it ACR 7 edits. Now let's double-click on the Smart Object in order to open up the embedded Camera Raw image. I'll go ahead and zoom in a click here. Now, notice that we're still seeing the same old option--that is Exposure followed by Recovery, Fill Light, the values that I cranked up so high. We've got Blacks, Brightness, and so forth.
So everything looks the same as it ever did so far, but I have this little exclamation mark point that tells me that I'm going to update the Camera Raw processes. So I'll click on it in order to update the image and notice I now have new sliders. I still have Exposure, Contrast has moved to a new location. But I now have Highlights and Shadows and this Black setting that behaves totally differently than in the past. All right, I lost a lot of detail associated with my previous edit, so if I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac, this is the way it used to look and this is the way it looks now.
I want to go ahead and sync those highlights so that they're not nearly so bright and I want to bring out the detail in the shadows. So I'm going to take the Highlights value down radically to its absolute lowest value, which is negative 100 and then I'm going to crank the Shadows value up to its absolute maximum value, which is positive 100. And if I go ahead and zoom in on the detail here I'm no longer getting any of that artifacting this time around. And now I want to compensate for the darkening of the highlights. So I'll take my Whites value up to 0 and I'll take my Blacks value down to -10.
Now the great thing about the Blacks value is that you can brighten the blacks and you can darken the blacks whereas you could only darken the blacks in previous versions of Camera Raw. I'm now going to tab my way down to the Vibrance value and take that up to 75. Now I'm ending up with these very badly colorful shadows in the background. Notice how extremely blue they are? Well just as in previous versions of Camera Raw, you have selective color control. So I'm going to switch over to the HSL/Grayscale panel and then I'll click on the Saturation tab.
I'm going to take the Blues value down to negative 50 because I don't want to lose the blues in the sky. And then we've got a lot of purples and magentas going on, we don't need those at all. So I'll take the Purples and Magentas values down to their minimums, which are -100 a piece. All right, now let's go ahead and switch back to the Basic panel and I'm going to zoom out a couple of clicks here so that we can take in more of the image. Now, one of the problems is that I'm losing some of the drama associated with the sky because I just reduced its Saturation so very much.
And I can reinstate some of that dramatic tension there by adding a Graduated Filter. And the great thing inside ACR 7 is both the Adjustment Brush and a Graduated Filter have been updated in terms of the settings that they offer. So armed with the Graduated Filter tool, I'll go ahead and draw a straight line down like so. So in other words, this area above the green will be modified, this area below the red will not be modified, and the area in between will gradually diminish. Notice our controls over here; we now have Temperature and Tint, which are absolute godsends, very useful for these graduated effects.
And I went ahead and took the Temperature value to negative 10 in order to strengthen up some of those blues in the sky. You can also see that I've increased the Highlights value a little bit; that allows me to brighten the highlights. I've decreased the Shadows value, which drops the Shadows a little bit. In other words I have selective control of the Contrast and you'll notice that you also have more detail controls down here at the bottom. So in addition to Sharpness, you have selective Noise Reduction and Moire Reduction as well. All right, this looks good to me. I'm going to go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification and let's see the kind of difference that that makes.
The image really pops; it has great sharp detail, in part because I have a Sharpening Smart Filter applied. And now if I go ahead and zoom in on those same details that looked so bad before with all that artifacting, they look absolutely great and we don't have nearly as much Noise either. So I'll go ahead and turn off this ACR 7 layer, so you can see what the modification looked like in ACR 6. Lots of artifacting going on all over the place. Now inside of ACR 7 it looks so much better. All right, I'll go ahead and zoom out.
Press the F key a couple of times in order to fill the screen with the image and that is this much better modification of a once in a lifetime photograph, thanks to Camera Raw 7: Working inside Photoshop CS6.
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