Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Lab and Camera Raw with a raw photograph, part of Photoshop CS3 Mastering Lab Color.
All right gang, it is time for the final scenario. What you do if you have captured an image in your camera's native RAW file format? Which is what you want to be doing by the way. If your camera supports a RAW file format definitely use it because it is going to do you the most good. Well this is where the Lab mode does least amount of good. It is still good, it is still a great mode but you are going to want to apply the majority of your color modifications inside Camera RAW or inside Lightroom. And then optionally just tweak the image inside of Lab.
So lets take a look at how that works. I have got the Bridge trained on the 00_introduction folder right here inside the exercise_files folder. And I have selected this image right here, Woman-3 RAW.dng. And when I double click on her, this time we are not going to open the image inside Photoshop, we are going to open it inside of Camera RAW. We are not going to develop the image because it has already been developed. I have gone ahead and applied the changes that I think need to be applied to the image. So here they are. You can look them over if you want to. This is a balanced Histogram we have got, there is a very little in a way of clipping going on, a little highlight clipping, a little shadow clipping.
But if I was to Alt or Option drag this Exposure value right here, which shows me the clipping inside of the image window there, inside of the Preview, we are going to see very few clipped colors going on. Mostly we are seeing black, which means those colors, the black colors are not getting clipped, which is a good thing of course. I have gone ahead and elevated my blacks. I have upped the Brightness a little bit. I have upped the Contrast. I have sent the Vibrance value quite high as you can see. So now we are going to open the image in Photoshop as a Smart Object.
So I want you to press the Shift key and notice I have got the image set to open in Adobe RGB in the 8 bit per channel mode which is sufficient when you are working in Lab. So I'm going to go ahead and press the Shift key and that changes the Open Image button to the Open Object button, so the Shift-Click on that button in order to open it up as a Smart Object here inside Photoshop. Now it might take a moment, there it is. That looks good and I will go ahead and zoom in on the image. So this time we are going to be performing all the modifications. There's not many that many as it turns out.
Let's just go ahead and call this ACR SO, which is in Adobe Camera RAW Smart Object. Now let's hit it with a Gaussian Blur, so actually before I do that though, we want to set up the Luminance Mask. So let's go to the Channels palette. And the red channel is going to be the best channel for our Luminance Mask because that is where this portrait shot is going to be its brightest. So I'm going to Ctrl-click or Command-click on that red channel in order to load it as a selection. Then go back to RGB, go back to the Layers palette. I want you to go up to the Filter menu, choose Blur and choose Gaussian Blur, if you are working along with me.
And let's go ahead and hit this with a Blur value of 20 pixels and then click OK. So high Blur value of course but then we are going to turn around, right? We are going to turn around and double click on this little slider icon here, we have seen this a few times now and we are going to change the mode to Overlay. And I'm going to go ahead and leave the Opacity set to 100% and click OK. Now I'm going to protect the image a little better, that is I actually want to reveal the Gaussian Blur more in the highlight and protect the shadows a little bit more.
So I need to adjust this filter mask. Go ahead and Alt-click here in the PC or Option-click on the Mac on this filter mask in order to view it by itself. And then I'm going to go up to the Image menu, I'm going to choose Adjustments and I'm going to choose Levels and I'm going to change the values like so. I'm going to take this Black value up to 50, so that we are really protecting the dark values like the eyes and the hair and then I'm going to take this White point value down to 175 so that we are really opening up these areas inside the face.
And then I'm going to click OK to accept that modification and next I'm going to up to the Filter menu and just choose this first command Gaussian Blur. It will reapply Gaussian Blur this time to the mask with that same Radius value of 20 pixels. Isn't that beautiful? I think that is a really cool looking shot almost as a mermaid quality. But it is just a mask, people, so Alt-click or Option- click in order to return to the RGB version of the image. Now let's go ahead and zoom in, in order to take in what we have done. This is without Gaussian Blur, this is with it.
And you can see already this image is just looking great. I mean why do we need Lab, really? Let's compare it to the other images. This is the one that was untreated before I brought it in, everything that we did was thanks to the Lab color space. This is the one that is a little bit of a combo of some Adobe Camera RAW modifications and Lab and this is the one that is relying entirely on Camera RAW. And so far we have not even switched over to Lab, we are still working inside RGB. Well let's change that, lets do make a few Lab modifications.
Now again this kind of stuff is optional when you are working with RAW digital camera images, you might or might not want to go to Lab. I'm going to do it, I'm going to go up to the Image menu, choose Mode and choose Lab Color. And I'm going to be warned, hey, do you want to rasterize your Smart Objects? I don't. I want to go ahead and keep this interaction of Smart Object and Smart Filter. So I'm going to say don't rasterize it. Watch what happens because we are going to see a slight change happen on screen. After I get settled with the progress, so try to ignore that. Just watch the image down here to see how it changes.
And notice that the Gaussian Blur got spread out a little bit more and actually I think has more becoming appearance. So this is before and this is after. So we are downplaying the highlights a little bit, we are downplaying some of the volumetric differences that is the chiaroscuro, the interplay between highlights and shadows. But I think the Lab version actually looks a little better. Now let's say that we want to go ahead and still bump up those Saturation values because really our comparison isn't fair so far.
We have some very high Saturation values going in the other two JPEG images as you can see here. So better do the same thing with our Camera RAW image as well. So I'm going to press and hold the Alt key or the Option key in the Mac, I'm going to click this black/white icon, choose the Levels command and I'm going to call this A and B just to tell me, that I'm making modifications exclusively to the A and B channels. You may recall those are analogous to Tint and Temperature where Adobe Camera RAW is concerned. I'll click OK. I'm going to switch from Lightness. You can only edit one channel at a time in the Lab mode.
I'm going to switch from Lightness to A and I'm going to click in the Black Point Value and then I'm going to press Shift+Up arrow twice. And then I'm going to Tab, Tab my way over to the White Point Value and press Shift+Down arrow twice. So in other words I'm making symmetrical modifications, so just as I'm adding turquoise or, if you prefer green to the image, I'm adding crimson or if you prefer magenta to the image. You'll see why I call these colors what I call them. Next I'm going to switch from a to b and I'm going to click in this Black Point Value again and press Shift+Up arrow twice which adds cobalt blue to the image and then I'm going to tab, tab and I'm going press Shift+Down arrow twice to add yellow to the image.
And we are done. These symmetrical modifications allow me to increase the Saturation of the image and that is it. More on that later but for now go ahead and click OK and this is the final modified version of the image. So just so that we can see them all here, lets go ahead and fill the screen actually with the image and Tab away the palettes. This is the JPEG image that was corrected a little bit inside of Camera RAW and a lot bit inside of Lab. And then here is the last image the one that was corrected primarily inside of Camera RAW and then just a little bit inside Lab. Now many of you are going to look at this final one and say that is the one, especially compared to the JPEG file or the slightly hybrid Adobe Camera RAW and JPEG file thing.
This one is that comes straight from the camera's RAW file format, that is the best of them all. And I'll tell you what, I agree but that is because we are working from 10 bits of data per channel, instead of just 8 bits of data per channel. So we are working from better information in the first place, given that the JPEG file is starting with less information, whether corrected just inside of Lab or with a little bit of help from Camera RAW. I would say that is just utterly amazing. So all kinds of stuff you can do with Lab here, all kinds of different variations that you can apply.
But the amazing thing is, the thing that I want you to remember is that no matter what, it's better than RGB and it's better then CMYK. In the next chapter I'm going to tell you what Lab is, we are going to tour the Lab Color mode, so we have a sense of what this crazy mode is all about and then after that we will start to begin to see the amazing many, many things you can do in Lab.