Some photographers consider working in the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) converter to be the most important stage of processing, while others prefer to quickly close it in order to move on to the main one — Photoshop.
We figure out why ACR is needed, how to use it to speed up retouching, quickly overtone the image and drive it into the desired color scheme, “light up” the eye or light source in the frame, and also improve skin tone in a couple of mouse movements.
Why you need Camera Raw and what is RAW
Adobe Camera Raw is a plug-in built into Photoshop that allows you to edit the “raw” source. It’s like developing a film in a dark room — without special manipulations and reagents, we will not see the finished picture, which we will then print or receive on a USB flash drive.
ACR is needed to work with photos taken in RAW format. This is a format that contains all the information from the camera’s matrix, and this is its main advantage over JPEG. For example, you can greatly lighten or darken certain parts of the photo, show details, because the format “remembers” what is hidden in these parts of the picture. RAW uncompressed and unprocessed in advance by the camera is sharper, it does not have the distortions that appear during compression, like JPEG.
Just like that, RAW cannot be uploaded to social networks — for this they require pre-processing, conversion. For this, you need the Adobe Camera Raw converter or its twin brothers — Adobe Lightroom, Capture One and others.
You can choose RAW format in the settings of your camera or even your phone. It appeared on Android in 2014, and on IOS in 2016. Some cameras take pictures in two formats at once. It is convenient if you need to send a JPEG to a client before processing so that he selects images for retouching.
Don’t be alarmed if you chose to shoot in RAW in the camera settings, but opened the files on your computer and didn’t see them. RAW is the common name for all files of this type. It is called differently by different camera manufacturers. Canon has .cr2 or .cr3, Nikon has .nef, Sony Alpha has .arw, RAW is abbreviated .dng for smartphones.
Also, do not rush to call the wizard if the computer cannot open RAW. Without special programs that read this format, you can see the footage only in converters. For Windows 10, you can download the free Raw Image Extension plugin. Also, this format is read by the free program FastStone Image Viewer. Mac users are luckier — the built-in Apple Photos software automatically reads RAW.
Processing secrets in Camera Raw
RAW conversion sounds like something complicated that the pros do for obvious reasons. But for ACR, there are many simple tricks that will quickly fix a photo and speed up processing.
How to quickly get trendy toning in complementary colors
Complementary colors are colors at opposite ends of Johannes Itten’s color wheel. They create a strong contrast that makes the picture catchy and noticeable. For example, complementary pairs are red and green, violet and yellow.
1. Go to the Camera Calibration tab.
2. Move the sliders Saturation (Hue) to Red (Red Primary) by +100, and to Blue (Blue Primary) by ‑100. Only blue and orange remain in the photo.
3. We finalize the ratio of colors by adjusting the parameter Saturation (Saturation).
How to remove red spots on the skin and correct its tone
To work with individual colors, you need the HSL tab. The principle of its operation is that ACR finds pixels of a certain color in a photo and allows you to separately influence each of its three parameters:
- tone — redder or oranger, greener or yellower pixels of a certain color;
- lightness — the color will become lighter or darker;
- saturation — the color will be richer or closer to gray.
1. Go to HSL and in the tab Color tone (Hue) we find the slider Reds (Reds). To make the pimples, nose and fingers reddened from the cold equal to the rest of the skin, move this slider towards orange.
2. As a rule, after that, the former red spots still stand out. Go to the tab Lightness or Brightness (Luminance) and raise the slider with red, lightening the problem areas. In the tab Saturation (Saturation) shift red towards gray.
3. We refine the skin tone in orange, yellow, occasionally purple colors. Often, if you raise the Lightness of these sliders, the skin becomes fresher, some of the imperfections are hidden, simplifying further retouching. The main thing is not to overdo it and not make your face look like a clay mask.
4. We refine the overall saturation of the skin color in the Camera Calibration tab by shifting Saturation in the blue channel (Blue Primary).
How to change the color balance and not make a mistake
Color balance, or white balance (WB), affects how colors appear in an image. In simple terms, now we will check whether the white balance is yellow, green or red.
Ideally, if we do not tint the photo on purpose, the white objects in the picture should be the same as in life. Then the colors remain “clean” for perception, the viewer considers the frame natural and pleasing to the eye — the brain does not need to digest unnecessary information and “crush” the parasitic shade.
1. To change the BB and the mood of the frame, take the sliders Temperature (Temperature) and Hue (Tint).
2. Go down and move the parameters Saturation (Saturation) and Vibrance (Vibrance) to a value of +100.
1. We correct the white balance by moving the sliders from step 1 and immediately see how this is reflected in the hypertrophied saturated photo. Too much yellow from warm lamps or purple spots on the face will immediately become apparent.
2. After adjusting, remove the Saturation and Vibrance and get pure natural colors in a couple of seconds.
How to remove unwanted colors from a photo
This technique is often used by Instagram bloggers, creating a minimalistic picture in uniform colors. For this technique, you still need the same HSL tab.
1. Go to HSL in the column Saturation (Saturation). We remove the saturation of ‑100 for all colors, except for the main ones in the frame.
2. Colors that are not suitable for the mood and idea can be retinted in the Hue tab. Then the number of shades will decrease, but the photo will remain bright.
How to “light up” an object in Photoshop and emphasize the expressiveness of the eyes
To do this, we take the tools of manual editing. Adjustment Brush and Radial Filter, which are in the ACR at the top left. They allow us to work on the areas of the photo we have chosen without changing the entire frame.
1. To “light up” the object, select the Radial filter. Raise the values of the sliders Exposure (Exposure), Light (Whites), White (Highlights) and Temperature (Temperature). If you need to create a cold light, then we take the temperature to blue.
2. In the Radial filter, change the setting Effect (Effect) to Inside (Inside), so that the light is “enclosed” in a circle. The smoothness of the impact is adjustable using Feather, which is better to increase for a softer effect.
3. Apply the filter to the desired area of the image by dragging the circle with the mouse.
In the same way, you can highlight the look, if it is poorly lit on the source, or remove bags under the eyes. This will require Adjustment brushand from the sliders — Exposure, Shadows, Lights. It is enough to draw a look with a brush with these settings. And you can make the iris richer by raising the slider Saturation. The main thing is not to overdo it.
How to batch process in Camera Raw
1. Select the necessary RAW files and move them to Photoshop opened in advance, or go to the File tab and select the Open command. You will open ACR, where the selected frames will be on the left.
2. To transfer the settings from one image to all the others, select the processed image, and then all the others using Alt (select frames one at a time) or Shift (click on the first and last files).
3. Click the right mouse button and look for Synchronize settings (Sync Settings), or use the Alt + S hotkeys.
4. In the window that opens, select which settings you want to transfer to another photo, and confirm the decision.
How to work with multiple frames at once in Camera Raw
1. Select the desired pictures with Alt or Shift.
2. Now, by moving any sliders, the effect will be applied immediately to all selected photos.
How to load a preset from Lightroom into Camera Raw
1. Go to Lightroom and select the desired preset. We click on it with the right mouse button, click Export and save the preset in .xmp format.
2. Click on the horizontal bars on the right side of ACR, or click on the tab with three dots Advanced Image Settings (depending on the version of the program) and select Load Settings.
3. We go to where we saved the preset from Lightroom, select it. It will immediately apply to the photo.
How to save your presets in Camera Raw
1. Click on the horizontal stripes on the right in any right tab
2. Select Save Settings (Save Settings) and determine what changes we want to leave in our future preset
3. We will be prompted to choose a save path. It’s better not to change it. But remember it to pick up presets from here if you need to transfer them to a new computer, or share them with a colleague
4. Give a name and save. It will immediately appear in the Presets tab.
Similarly, you can save any preset downloaded from Lightroom.
How to open JPEG in Camera Raw
1. Open a photo in jpeg format in Photoshop.
2. At the top of the program menu, look for the Filter menu and click on the Camera Raw Filter (shortcut keys Shift + Ctrl + A).
What Camera Raw Can’t Do
In ACR, the following tabs and tools are not available for jpeg images, because they simply do not contain the necessary information:
1. A line through which the bit depth, color space and resolution of the photo are changed;
2. There is no tab Snapshots (Snapshots), which allows you to create multiple versions of processing;
3. No automatic correction of chromatic aberration and lens distortion;
4. The manual editing tools do not have the function of cropping, correcting the horizon, or rotating the image.