So maybe you read my post last week about the pros and cons of shooting your digital photos in RAW? And now I’ll tell you about what I do to process those RAW images, once I open them in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR for short).
But first, a digression. I am a grammar fiend and proofreading nut. Not that you can tell from the typos that get past me here from time to time. I cringe whenever I find one. Anyway, sometimes I see RAW in all caps and sometimes I see it with only the R capitalized. And even in Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Elements 6 Book for Digital Photographers, it appears both ways. It seems that when he refers to the file format, it’s RAW, but the software is Adobe Camera Raw. He’s incredibly smart and that book is fabulous for people just starting out in PSE, so I’ll follow his lead. But I wish I understood the logic!
Ok, back to processing RAW images in ACR.
You might remember from my last post that when you open a RAW image from within Photoshop Elements or Photoshop, that image will open in ACR. After making the ACR adjustments, you can then open the photo in PSE or PS. If you want to open more than one picture at a time in ACR, use control + click to highlight each one before pressing the Open button. Otherwise, you’ll adjust one picture in ACR, bring it in to PSE, open another picture in ACR, go back to PSE, etc. And you won’t be able to apply batch changes to a group of similar pictures unless they are all open in ACR at the same time. And that feature is a huge timesaver.
The first fabulous edit you can make in ACR is to adjust the White Balance, which refers to the way colors are processed given the light a photo was taken in. Most of us can tell our cameras what the lighting condition is for a particular picture – it could be sunny, cloudy or florescent light. And, our cameras can often make a educated choice about these lighting conditions when set to Auto White Balance. But if the camera chooses wrong, or we forget to change the white balance setting when moving from one type of light to another, our pictures get funny color casts.
If your picture was recorded in RAW, you can assign a proper White Balance setting in ACR and remove the color cast. I usually do this by clicking in the White Balance field on Auto, the using my up and down arrow keys to scroll through the other presets.
Often, the As Shot setting is better than any of the presets and a good place to start. And the Auto White Balance gets good results sometimes too. Once I’ve settled on that setting, I use the Temperature and Tint sliders to perfect the appearance.
I sometimes find myself feeling a weird pressure to select, for instance, the Sunny preset just because it was sunny when I took the picture. Even if it looks better with no changes at all. Don’t do that. It’s silly!
You can also click on the eyedropper tool from the toolbar, then click on something that should be a “neutral gray”. Yes, that same old neutral gray that we are always supposed to be clicking on in Photoshop Elements. I don’t know for sure what color that is, but I think it’s a light gray. I usually click on the closest thing to gray I can find in my picture, and continue clicking until the colors look good.
Ok, so that’s how I adjust the White Balance. There are lots of approaches to a relatively simple fix. And the rest of my ACR tutorial won’t be so wordy. It really is pretty easy. And I’ll give you a hint – I start with Auto!