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- General and interface updates
- Adjustment updates
- Image cleanup updates
- Creative updates
- Text and graphics updates
- Working with video
- 3D updates
Skill Level Intermediate
Adobe Camera Raw gets updated on a fairly regular basis in large part. Because it must keep up with new or updated Camera Raw formats with a variety of different camera models. In addition to updates for new cameras though, Adobe Camera Raw sometimes gets some more significant updates. An that's certainly the case with the version of Adobe Camera Raw included with Photoshop CS6. Let's take a look at some of the key changes to this new update to Adobe Camera Raw. I would say that the most significant update has to do with how you approach tonal adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw. The basic tonal adjustment sliders have changed, we still have Exposure and Contrast.
But now instead of Recovery, Fill Light, Blacks, and Brightness, we have Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks. And so those highlights, shadows, whites and blacks represent a fairly significant change, as far as the overall approach to tonal adjustments. Exposure remains unchanged. As we increase exposure, we're essentially increasing the white point, and decreasing exposure decreases the white point. So it's in effect an overall brightness adjustment, but one that's focused on the white point. The contrast adjustment is also unchanged and relatively straightforward. Dragging to the right will increase contrast and dragging to the left will decrease contrast.
Generally, I fine tune exposure and contrast first, to get a good overall appearance in the photo. And then I'll take a look at highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks. Most often, I'll start with whites and highlights. The whites adjustment will affect the brightest areas of the image. So I can recover a little bit of detail in the brightest whites, for example, by moving that slider to the left. Or I can brighten up those areas if I want to by dragging the slider to the right. In this case I'd like to have a bit of a bright area in those highlights.
So, I'll keep a positive value there but, then for the overall highlights I might want to darken down just to get a little bit more texture in those clouds. So, you can see I'm focusing the adjustment. Brightening by dragging to the right or darkening by moving to the left. Only on the brightest areas of the image but with a broader range than are affected by just the white slider. We have a similar option with the blacks and shadows. And here again, I'll usually start with blacks. That represents a narrower range, and it allows me to brighten or darken the darkest values in the image. I can move to the right to brighten up those black values or to the left to darken them.
The key thing to keep an eye on here is that generally speaking, you'll want the darkest values to be at or very Close to black. If we brighten up those blacks too much the image starts to look a little bit odd, little bit too flat. So in this case I don't need to darken it down too much I think I am very close to appear black in the image in any event. And so I'll just brighten up the black say a very small amount but for shadows I might want to apply a larger adjustment. I can open up shadow detail or, I can close down that detail if I want a more dramatic effect in the image.
So we're really able to fine tune the amount of information we're able to see in the photo. To open those shadows is a very powerful capability, especially since we're able to really fine tune in a variety of tonal ranges. The very far ends of the spectrum, as far as the whites and the blacks sliders, and then a broader range with highlights and shadows. I'll go ahead and fine-tune, perhaps not opening up shadow detail quite that much. And maybe just darkening down the highlights a little bit more to add some texture to the clouds there. And of course I still have the Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation adjustments that allow me to improve the overall presence of the image. So I'll certainly adjust those sliders as well.
Another area where Adobe Camera Raw has seen some fairly significant updates is in the Lens Correction section. So I'll switch to Lens Corrections, and here you might notice that we no longer have a slider for Chromatic Aberration. And in fact, in the manual section, we don't have any Chromatic Aberration adjustments at all. Instead we just have a single checkbox to remove Chromatic Aberration. Now this might like it's just simplifying the overall user interface, but in fact it represents a very significant improvement in Adobe Camera Raw. It is now able to automatically analyze the image and determine where the color fringing of Chromatic Aberrations appears and correct for it automatically. So that's a huge and very helpful improvement in Adobe Camera Raw. Another update that is important but mostly behind the scenes is the new process version.
If you go to the Camera Calibration section, you'll see that the new process version is 2012. The previous version was 2010, and there was a prior version labeled 2003 I recommend using 2012. It is the default and it will generally produce the best results. There's quite a few improvements. If you switch to a previous process version you'll have the previous version of the adjustments. So for example those tonal adjustments that have changed will reflect the older version of Adobe Camera Raw. If you switch to a previous process version.
Generally speaking, the only reason you would want to use an older process version. Is if you had previously worked on an image using a previous version of Adobe Camera Raw and you want to faithfully reproduce that Raw conversion. So you can see there have been some subtle changes in Adobe Camera Raw. And I think they really help to improve the overall appearance of our photos. And make it a little bit easier to work on our images at the same time.