Adobe Camera Raw Tutorial (Very Detailed)

Started Aug 16, 2005 | Discussions thread
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karneyli Regular Member • Posts: 308
Adobe Camera Raw Tutorial (Very Detailed)

Here is my Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) processing technique in full detail with images for each step. I'm putting this up, because I believe it is the best way to process RAW files in ACR (you'll probably agree with me after seeing it in action). The photo I choose has quite a large dynamic range, a typically difficult picture for any camera.

When you open an image in ACR, Photoshop CS2 has "Auto" settings. It seems the purpose of these settings are to preserve highlights at the expense of just about everything else. Often leading to gloomy pictures.

You should always have the Shadows and Highlight boxes enabled during RAW processing. Enabling these two checkboxes will show you when highlights (red) or shadows (purple) are being clipped.

You should also use the ProPhoto RGB colorspace no matter what mode you shot in. The reason is because ProPhoto RGB so much larger than Adobe RGB, and most DSLR colorspaces are larger than the Adobe RGB colorspace. For more information on ProPhoto RGB see this article....

Here's is what the the image looks like with Photoshop's default settings:

As you've probably noticed... Quite warm inside and there's some highlight clipping in the window (the Red) and there is shadow clipping in on the right side (purple)

Hit CTRL+U to toggle all the Auto settings...

Ouch lots of shadow and highlight clipping, as we can see ACR's Auto settings try to preserve highlights.

For some odd reason, ACR starts with a non-linear curve... Go to the Curve tab and make it linear. You'll probably notice that the image reduces in constrast. This is ok.

At this point, set the WB:

Next, adjust exposure. This step is to save the highlights. So keep moving the exposure slider to the left until the red disappears (or close to disappears)

Ouch, the image is so dark... fear not, we'll fix this soon. Next you might want to move the shadow slider to the left if there's shadow clipping.

Shadow clipping isn't as bad as highlight clipping because human eyes are exponentially more sensitive to clipped highlights than clipped shadows.

Next, use the Brightness slider to adjust the overall exposure of the picture. You'll notice that even though you move the brightness slider over to the right, highlights and shadows are not getting clipped. But there's very little contrast...

Next increase the contrast to compensate for the increased Brightness... There shouldn't be any additional highlight or shadow clipping if everything is done right...

Finally go to the Curve tab and adjust the Curve. Notice how the white point (the top right) is moved down and gradually plateaus. This will shift whatever remaining clipped highlights into the closest non-white values.

Here's the final image...

I hope this tutorial helped... Here is my flickr gallery.

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