The Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) Interface
Figure 1.63 shows an overview of the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) interface. It shows the basic preview pane that takes up the bulk of the interface. The tonal, color, and effects controls are on the right, and the workflow and resizing options are on the lower left. Note the histogram in the top-right corner, which displays the tonal information representing the red, green, and blue channels independently. Any information from the center to the left of the graph represents the middle to lower tonalities until it reaches black. Inversely, the center of the graph all the way to the right represents the middle to brighter tonalities toward white.
A higher vertical mound indicates a greater amount of those particular tones and colors in your image. It is important to note that the new ACR will not just open raw formats. It will now open TIFF and JPEG as well, which you’ll see later.
You may use your own raw files, or you can use the one provided in Tutorials/ch 1 original images/sanddune.crw. Use Bridge to navigate to the file, right-click, and select Open in Camera Raw.
You are now going to gain some familiarity with the power of the new ACR 5.3 (Adobe Camera Raw) interface. You’ll immediately see some improvements to the ACR interface. These changes will not only allow you to gain a better handle on correcting contrast, white balance, or sharpening, but they will also give you the ability to clean up any imperfections having to do with the dust on your sensor, correct red eye, and use new improved tonal and color correction tools. Bridge gives you the most effective way to open your images in ACR. Just rightclick the thumbnail and select Open in Camera Raw from the list. You can open TIFF and JPEG images in ACR this way as well.
If you want your raw, JPEG, and TIFF files to open automatically in ACR, then you can specify this in two places. One is in the Photoshop preferences (Ctrl+K/CMD+K). Under the File Handling menu, you will see a section titled File Compatibility. Under that heading, click the button called Camera Raw Preferences. On the bottom, you will see a section titled JPEG and TIFF Handling. Make sure that you select Automatically Open All Supported JPEGs for the JPEG option and Automatically Open All Supported TIFFs for the TIFF option.
The second area where you can locate the ACR options is in Bridge. Just go to Edit > Camera Raw Preferences.
Let’s explore the new interface.
1. Click each of the drop-down menus in the Workflow Options area to preview your options for color space(A), bit depth(B), and sizing and resolution(C), as shown in Figure 1.64.
2. White balance is simply the process of making your whites in your photograph as close to a neutral white as possible. In other words, proper white balance is the process of removing any color cast in the highlight areas. ACR gives you presets that relate directly to the white balance settings in your digital camera (see Figure 1.65). So you can choose one that will give you the best result.
3. Take a look at the color Temperature slider under the White Balance menu. Slide it to the right and then to the left. Notice that as you slide to the right, your image becomes warmer (yellow), and as you drag in the opposite direction, your image becomes cooler (blue). The histogram in the top right gives you an update as to how all of the colors are responding to any and all adjustments in the Raw interface (see Figures 1.66 and 1.67).
4. Experiment with the Tint slider and see how you can control magenta and green. This is great for situations where textures are photographed near fluorescent lighting. Note how your histogram displays a dominant magenta or yellow, moving higher as you adjust the Tint slider to the right or left (see Figures 1.68 and 1.69).
5. The Exposure slider will help you make adjustments to any overexposed or underexposed images. In Photoshop CS3, you had to click the Preview button for both the Shadows and the Highlights at the top of the interface to observe which areas were losing detail due to underexposure or overexposure. This capability was invaluable to photographers. However, the way ACR communicates which areas are losing detail due to underexposure or overexposure is through color mapping. Any shadow regions losing detail are designated with a blue tint, and any highlight areas losing detail have a red tint. If you look at the histogram in the top-right corner, you will see two arrows above the black point and the white point. Click these arrows to toggle the blue and red out of gamut preview (see Figure 1.70).
6. In a continuing effort to allow the photographer to have more control of detail in the shadow, midrange, and highlight areas of the image, Adobe has added Recovery. Experiment with the Recovery slider (see Figure 1.71) and notice that the midtone range information is becoming denser. This slider deals with the process of bringing back the midtone information by adding density in those areas.
7. As recovery increases the middle range total detail, the Fill Light slider allows you to brighten the middle range tonal detail (see Figure 1.72). Often in a photographic image, the shuttle and highlight information are acceptable, but the midrange of information is too dark because of the environment’s extreme contrast. Adjust this slider to make changes to those areas.
8. Click the HSL/Grayscale tab and select the Convert to Grayscale button located at the top (see Figure 1.73). This is a convenient addition that will likely be very popular because it gives the photographer the ability to create black-and-white photos straight from camera raw files. You can even control the tonal values by selecting a color and shifting it toward dark or light.
Customizing ACR 5 Through The Options Panel
Let’s take a look at how to customize ACR 5.2 to assist you in preparing your photographic images to be imported into Photoshop. Take a look at the icons in the top-left corner of the interface. If you look from right to left, you’ll notice two circular arrows that rotate 90 degrees clockwise to the right and 90 degrees counterclockwise. To the left of those two commands, you will see the Preferences Panel icon for ACR. Figure 1.74 shows some of the options that are available. For example, you can update your JPEG previews to be medium quality or high quality, you can control the cache size, you can make some default changes to your image settings, and you can determine where you want to save the XMP data from the raw files. After you make adjustments to the settings, they will stay as default settings until you go back and alter the changes.
The next icon to the left of the Preferences icon is the Red Eye icon (Figure 1.75G). Another convenient addition to ACR is the ability to correct red eye. CS4 makes it very easy to apply this command. Just select the Red Eye icon and click the red eye in the portrait to remove the red color automatically. You will also have the option to brighten or darken the tonality to make the pupil more prominent.
Figure 1.75F shows the parameters for the Spot Removal brush that allow you to apply the Stamp tool to your raw images to remove blemishes or dust problems from the camera’s sensor.
Figures 1.75E and 1.75D show the options for the Alignment and the Crop tools. The Alignment tool corrects a rotating or offset photograph. The Crop tool does exactly as the name implies—it crops the image.
Figure 1.75C shows the parameters for the Parametric Curve. This is a wonderful feature that lets you apply color and tonal changes just to the areas that you select. In other words, by clicking on a local color, you can drag the slider to alter the Hue, Saturation, Luminance, and Grayscale mix of your selection.
Figure 1.75B displays the icon for the Sampler tool option to assist you with white balance or tonal correction by laying down reference points to select localized areas and adjust the white balance. Figure 1.75A is the White Balance tool icon.
Take a look at Figure 1.76. It displays an example of how the white balance can be adjusted by clicking various areas of the print. When you click a particular tonal range, the White Balance Eye Dropper will neutralize the highlights in your scene toward more of a neutral white balanced look. In this example, a color sampler was placed on the highlight, shadow and midtone region to assist in locating where to click when applying white balance. It is designated with circular markers, which are numbered 1 thru 3.
Maximum Color Samplers Allowed
Take note that the Color Sampler tool only allows up to a maximum of four targets.
The Retouch Tool
Let’s focus our attention on Figure 1.77 (A and B), which displays a facial blemish that you can eliminate with the new Retouch tool using these steps:
1. Define the area where you need to utilize the good texture and replace it all over the blemish by making sure Heal is selected under the Type menu.
2. Click and drag your mouse to define the circumference of the brush over the area that you consider as the clean texture to cover your blemish (Figure 1.77A).
3. After the brush size is set, click the Lasso and drag your mouse toward the area that you need to repair. Notice that a second circle has been created, which is designated with a red color and is in connection with the green circle. The green circle determines the good texture, and the red circle determines where you’re going to place that texture.
4. Drag the red circle on top of the blemish and watch the imperfection disappear, as shown in Figure 1.77B.
The Subtle Differences Between the Healing and Clone Tools
Observe the differences between the Heal and Clone options. Go to the Type menu and switch from Heal to Clone (see Figure 1.78). Healing blends the two textures, whereas Clone just applies 100% of the texture on top of the blemish, thus giving it the darker shading of that selected area in this example.
Raw File Function
You are working with a raw file so you have the ability to make several adjustments that are automatically saved with the file. You can never edit the raw file directly so you do have the option to remove and reapply any of the Retouch tool settings.
You can also define multiple areas to retouch in the photograph. Figure 1.79A shows the use of several areas being added in one sitting since the figure displays several Spot Removal circular highlights throughout the face. As you probably have already noticed, the blemishes are not the only aspect that needs to be corrected with this portrait. The red eye needs to be taken out as well, which is very common in most snapshots taken with a built-in flash.
Another great convenience included in the new ACR interface is the ability to correct red eye. We are going to use the same photo used for the Retouch tool because it has red eye issues as well. You start by dragging the selection rectangle around the area that is affected with the reddish hue (Figure 1.79B). Immediately, the red is dramatically reduced. Figure 1.79C shows the options that you have to eliminate the reddish color. Use the Pupil Size to adjust the tool’s sensitivity as to the amount of reduction that is required When red eye occurs, the darker tonalities in the eye are often sacrificed, so use darken to place density back into the pupils.
Other Features In ACR 5
Next, let’s look at the Curves feature. Click the Tone Curve tab to access the standard Curves command to control the contrast in the scene. You have two options. The Point option (see Figure 1.80) basically gives you the standard Curves dialog box. Notice that it has a slightly different look and that the histogram is included in the background to help you assess visually where the tones are on the graph.
The second option, Parametric, not only gives you the standard Curves, but it also gives you the sliders for adjusting the shadows, midtones, and highlight information (see Figure 1.81). You adjust these sliders just as you do in Levels.
Now, take a look at the Hue (A), Saturation (B), and Luminance (C) options in Figure 1.82. Each has its own set of sliders to apply changes to primary and secondary colors. Dividing up all these colors for each aspect gives you incredible control over the color balance, white balance, and the overall color scheme.
The Hue gives you access to both the primary and secondary colors in your image. If your intention is to isolate a particular color in your photograph and alter that color, then you would choose the designated slider and make your changes to that color only. For example, if you would like to have green leaves take on a warmer appearance, then you would select the slider for the Green Hues and pull that slider to the left toward a yellowish, green look.
The Saturation option increases or decreases the saturation of each individual color that is present in your image. Finally, the Luminance option selects a certain color that is present in the photograph and alters that color toward white or black.
Let’s take a look at a few other nice features in the new ACR. For instance, the Detail feature applies an unsharp mask to sharpen your imagery (see Figure 1.83).
Next, Split Toning allows you to create images that are dominated by two colors (see Figure 1.84). Traditionally, this was a common technique created by using two types of toner baths to add color to black-and-white prints.
Finally, options are available for chromatic aberrations (Figure 1.85A) and color corrections for your camera profile (Figure 1.85B), as shown in Figure 1.85. You can also apply any presets (Figure 1.85C) that were created in ACR.
When you have applied the settings and are satisfied with the results, you can save them as XMP data presets. In this example, a new preset is titled High Key Dunes (see Figure 1.86).
When you save your new preset, you’ll be asked what subsets to save with the file. From this list, you can simply check the options to be included and uncheck any options that you do not want attached (see Figure 1.87).
Now, if you open any other file in ACR and access the Presets tab, as shown in Figure 1.88, you can select any preset that you have created.
Since you are dealing with the raw file data, you have more information to experiment with than if it were formatted. In other words, you have at your command the raw 1s and 0s that the camera originally captured. After your adjustments are applied and you save the file, it is formatted as a TIFF, JPEG, or PSD of your choice. In addition, the new ACR can open not only raw format but also both TIFF and JPEG file formats. To locate a thumbnail in Bridge, right-click it and select Open in Adobe Camera Raw or just click the shortcut icon listed below the menus on the top left side of the interface (see Figure 1.89).
Floating Point Capabilities
Previous versions of Photoshop have made use of the 16-bit capabilities of digital images. But technology keeps getting faster and better, and photographers demand the capability to record greater amounts of information than ever before. Now, Adobe has given you the capability to edit 32-bit images. This is, sometimes referred to as images with floating point designations. Let’s experiment.
1. Open a new file that is a 5°—5 square inch image with a resolution of 150 PPI.
2. Change it to a 32-bit file (Image > Mode > 32 Bit).
3. Take your mouse and single-click your foreground color on the bottom of your Tools palette and take a look at the Color Picker (see Figure 1.90). You have added content to the interface. Focus your attention on the top portion of the interface. The 32-bit version of the color picker displays the selected color in the center of the graph. To the left and right are one-stop increment adjustments. The right adjustments are overexposures and the left are underexposures.
4. You can adjust the preview in Stop Size increments. Take a look at Figure 1.91A–C. Each one shows the results of selecting one, two, or three Stop increments. Randomly click each color box and observe the changes in color.
5. Take a look at the numerical equivalents and notice that you no longer have tonal designation in numerical increments of 0 to 255. Since we are working in floating point mode, we have designations from zero to one. Zero represents the absence of color and 1 represents the absolute saturation of that color. Figures 1.92 through 1.97 show the numerical representation of black, white, medium gray, red, green, and blue.
The floating point system works in fractions where before we were working with whole numbers such as 0, 128, 255, and so on. In 32-bit mode, you are working with decimals (thus floating points), which allow you to capture subtler shades of color and tone if your digital camera or scanner has the capability to record this amount of information.
To assist you with better workflow, Adobe has included the Photo Downloader. This is a feature that has been part of Photoshop Elements and has found its way into Photoshop. The concept is that when you insert your storage card into your card reader, it will immediately recognize the files on the card and download them to a location of your choice. In addition, you can rename your photos or convert them into Adobe’s new raw file designation called DNG.
1. Access the photo downloader through Bridge (File > Get Photos from Camera).
2. Take a look at Figure 1.98, which shows the basic interface of the photo downloader. Here, you can tell the program where to retrieve the photos, where to download them, or how to name the photos.
3. Click the Settings tab for Convert to DNG to view your options. In this example, the JPEG preview is set to medium. The compression box is checked in an effort to save space on the hard drive. Also check Preserve Camera Raw to preserve the original data. Finally, you have the option to embed the original raw file and the DNG file during the conversion. When done, click OK.
4. On the bottom left-hand corner of the dialog box, you’ll see a button titled Advanced Dialog. Click this to customize how the photos are downloaded. When you access your card to preview your images, you can select the photos to be processed by clicking the check box.
5. Figure 1.99A gives you the location of where Photo Downloader will retrieve the photos. Figure 1.99B gives you the option to create a subfolder, as well as to rename your photos. Figure 1.99C converts the photos to DNG in the process of downloading, and Figure 1.99D gives you the choice of adding metadata while downloading. What are the advantages of converting a file to DNG? When you make changes through ACR 5.2, the data is often saved in a sidecar in a form of XMP data. With DNG, all ACR data, including metadata, are embedded within the file itself, which is a more organized way to work.
What You Have Learned
• To use the Wacom tablet to improve workflow.
• How the CS4 interface is organized.
• The interface has only three sections to access all your commands.
• How to use the Tools palette.
• How to use cascading menus.
• The command palettes are shortcuts to what can be accessed in the cascading menus.
• The floating point is a decimal-based system.
• The new features in Bridge.
• ACR is an invaluable tool for editing raw files.
• ACR and Bridge work together.
Stephen Burns' passion for the digital medium as an art form is as great as his passion for photography. His background began as a photographer 28 years ago and, in time, progressed toward the digital medium. In addition to being the president of the prestigious San Diego Photoshop Users Group, of which there are currently 3,000 members, Stephen Burns has been an instructor and lecturer in the application of digital art and design for the past 13 years. He has authored several books, including the first two editions of this book, and has written numerous articles, including some for HDRI 3D magazine about using creative digital techniques with Photoshop and 3D applications. His work has been shown at fine art galleries worldwide and at www.chromeallusion.com.