Today we are going to tackle editing raw files with ACR. Both Photoshop Elements and Photshop CS# come with a plug-in called Adobe Camera Raw, which converts their raw files to a format (such as JPG, TIFF, or DNG) that can be edited in PSE and PS.
This tutorial used Photoshop Elements 9, but all the steps are the same in PS CS5 and older versions. The difference between the ACR plug-in for PS and PSE is that the one in PS CS# is on steroids. 😉
The screen prints and steps are minimal, as doing step by step screen prints would be have been overwhelming. Instead I did a more inclusive video tutorial, which is at the bottom of the post.
Step 1: Open the image image in ACR by clicking on the picture in Organizer and choosing Full Edit, or in the Full Edit mode, go to File, Open, and then navigate to the image and click open. ACR will pop up.
This is an image from a few weeks ago. The White Balance is clearly off and we have some clipping (highlighted in red).
If I do not see any red in my picture (when editing other images) I click the triangle in the top right corner of the histogram box to make sure my highlight warning is activated.
Step 2: The first thing I want to do is fix the White Balance. I click the eye dropper tool in the top menu bar, then I click on an area in the image that is gray or should be gray. If there isn’t anything of that sort, I will use the whites of the eyes.
If I get a WB that is close to what I want, but not quite, then I will bump the temperature and tint until I get what I am looking for. This requires LOOKING at your picture and identifying the color that is the issue. Sometimes it will be too much green, sometimes too much magenta, other times too much blue (too cool) or too much red (too warm).
What if you have neither a gray nor whites of eyes? Then you need to tweak the temperature and tint sliders to best suite the image.
Step 3: I then tweak the exposure and contrast of the image by moving the Exposure slider to suit the image, either raising or lowering it (sometimes not messing with it at all) and increasing the blacks to around 8 or 9.
Step 4: After adjusting exposure and contrast, if there is still clipping, I will pull the recovery slider over until I have reclaimed the vital areas. I try not to exceed 25.
Step 5: Now I move on to the Clarity and Vibrance sliders.
Clarity defines edges, slightly similar to sharpening. You do not want to increase the clarity to a high level on a person as it will accentuate blemishes, wrinkles, etc.
Vibrance will make your colors more intense and vibrant. This is a much preferred option over using the Saturation slider, which can make skin tones very orange.
Here is the before/after of the image I used for this tutorial. The only edits made were in ACR.
In the video tutorial below I do a brief overview of ACR, the various sliders and even talk about the noise reduction slider ACR offers. Also, I quickly show how to batch edit pictures in ACR.