Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Converting the raw capture, part of Photoshop Artist in Action: Tim Grey's Photo Optimization Techniques.
The first step in optimizing an image when that image is a raw capture, is to process the raw photo in Photoshop utilizing Adobe Camera Raw. So for this photo, I'll go ahead and get started by double clicking on the thumbnail in Adobe Bridge, in order to open the image in Photoshop which of course will take us first to Adobe Camera Raw. In theory, I could certainly crop the image here in Adobe Camera Raw, but I'd prefer to save that for a later step in Photohshop. Here, I'm really just going to focus on the overall adjustment to the image.
Frankly, I think that pretty much means adjusting the overall tonality and maybe fine tuning color just a little bit. I think the image was underexposed a little bit too much, I was trying to preserve the deep color tones and the result is that the scene is a little bit too dark. I do like the silhouette effect of course, but I think the detail in the background could be brighten up a little bit. I could start by increasing the overall exposure. But you notice that if take that too far, the color gets a bit washed out so I don't want to increase exposure too much, maybe right about there and then I'll move on to the black slider mostly, because I want to make sure that I'm not losing too much detail in those black values. I think right about there it will work.
I'm holding the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh, so that I can see a clipping preview for the photo. The colors indicate that one or more channels are losing detail, but the black pixels indicate that all three channels in that area have lost detail, and so it's a pure black value. >> That looks to be pretty good for the overall image. So I don't need to reduce blacks too much, just a little bit. I could also take a look at the Whites Slider, again holding the Alt or Opt key. And I could increase or decrease the amount of clipping there.
I don't mind just a little bit of clipping in that bright sunlight and the reflections, but I want to minimize it to some extent. Next, I'll take a look at the shadows. And I think that's going to be my primary focus here. I'd like to open up just a little but of shadow detail. Not too much, I don't want to bring out too much detail in the rider. I really want to maintain a bit of a silhouette type of appearance for the horse and rider. But I would like to bring out some of the detail in the background. So that's going to call for a little bit of a compromise in that setting. Right about there I think we'll work pretty well.
I can always fine tune with an adjustment in Photoshop later if I need to emphasize one particular area of the photo. I then take a look at the highlights, in theory, I might want to brighten highlight in order to enhance over our contrast but in actual fact, I think I'll tone down those highlights in order to maintain a bit more richness in the colors. And speaking of richness in the colors, I'll also take a look at vibrance, possible increasing the value just a little bit in order to bring out some of the cell colors throughout the photo, I can even take a look at the Saturation slider.
But, I don't want the things to get too out of control here, maybe a very slight increase, but not much. Finally, I'll take a look at the clarity slider. Increasing clarity essentially cuts back on haze in the image and reducing clarity adds something of an (UNKNOWN) effect in the photo. And in this case, I actually think a little bit of an (UNKNOWN) effect might work nicely. So I'll set a negative value for clarity. I don't want to go too far, I'll set this to its minimum value, minus 100 value and then I'll zoom in on an area of the image here and you can see that we get a sort of a softening sort of effect. If I increase clarity we have some crisper detail.
If I tone down the Clarity, you'll see that we essentially get an ethereal glow. I don't want the image to appear to be out of focus, I just want to have a little bit of that kind of haze, that ehtereal glow going on. And at this point, the image is looking I think pretty good. I'll take a look at those shadows once again and decide where I want to finalize that value. The more I look at the image, the more I'm thinking that maybe it's not so bad after all to lose a little bit of that shadow detail. I'd like to have a sort of dramatic look for the image. So I think I'll open up shadows. Just a little bit so I'll take that value down a little bit, still with the positive value but not quite as high as it had been previously.
I can also take a look at the temperature and tint to see if I want to fine tune the overall color. Maybe shifting a little bit more toward yellow or a little bit more toward magenta, but I don't want the color to look too artificial. So I'm going to be a little bit careful about those adjustments. I think right about there will work pretty well. I'll turn off the Preview checkbox to get a better sense of my original starting point and then I'll turn it back on so I can see the final result as it stands right here in Adobe Camera Raw. And I think that's a good improvement, I've opened up a little bit of detail and enhanced some of the color in the photo and I think that's a great starting point. I'll save the image clean up work as well as the cropping work that I need to do here.
I have a crooked horizon and some blemishes throughout the photo, but I'm going to save those for Photoshop proper. So at this point, I'm ready to finalize the processing in Adobe Camera RAW. So I'll simply click the Open Image button. And Adobe Camera Raw will process the raw capture and open up the final result in Photoshop.
- RAW conversion and processing
- Spot removal
- Cropping and straightening
- Adding local contrast
- Black-and-white conversion
- Correcting perspective with Transform
- Enhancing detail with High Pass
- Applying HDR tone-mapping
- Adding a custom vignette