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How to Transform Your RAW Images into Works of Art
Getting started with camera raw and Photoshop CS3

White Balance Tool

The White Balance tool, located in the toolbar next to the Hand tool, can be used to automatically set the white balance based on a selected area of your image. (You can also set white balance manually using the Temperature and Tint Sliders in the Basic tab.) It's very easy to use: Simply select the tool and click on an area of your image that should be neutral gray. Then view the results. Double-clicking on the tool icon resets the white balance to As Shot.

Color Sampler Tool

The Color Sampler tool is also located in the toolbar, next to the White Balance tool. (The Keystroke command is S.) You can use the tool to take up to nine static color samples from the preview image. These sample points will update in real time to reflect any color or tonal adjustments. The values appear as RGB values above the preview image. Values can be cleared by clicking Clear Samplers.

You can also get a real-time RGB readout by moving the Zoom tool, Hand tool, White Balance tool, Color Sampler tool, Crop tool, or Straighten tool anywhere over the preview image. The RGB values of the areas under the cursor will appear in the left corner of the dialog box under the histogram.

Crop Tool

Cropping is used to remove unwanted objects, to create a specific aspect ratio for printing, and to improve composition. Camera Raw's Crop tool is located in the Toolbar.

Camera Raw's crop tool works in much the same way as the one in Photoshop. Either select the Crop icon in the toolbar or use the keystroke C. Click on the image window and drag it to the desired size. Once you release the mouse, a rectangular box with bounding bars at the edges appears. You can adjust the size of the crop at any time or click inside and drag the crop into place. If you have multiple images open in Camera Raw, click the Select All button to apply a similar crop to all the images. You can also apply a previously made crop to other RAW files by selecting those files. You can even rotate the crop to any angle you wish. To do this, place the cursor slightly outside one of the bounding boxes. The cursor will turn into a curved arrow. Click to rotate it to the desired angle.

To clear a crop, use the contextual menu that appears when you click and hold the Crop tool, or simply use the Esc key. When you are finished cropping and close Camera Raw, you don't really crop or throw away any data. When you reopen the RAW file in Camera Raw, the crop mark remains, however, it will be completely changeable or removable. When you open the file from Camera Raw into Photoshop, you are no longer working on the original RAW file, so the crop is applied and data is thrown away, unless you open the file as a Smart Object.

When you use the Crop tool in Camera Raw, all you see is a grayed-out area designating the area to be cropped. You have to use your imagination a little to visualize the final cropped image. You can get around this by opening multiple images. When you do this, the thumbnail version reflects the actual crop or rotation. (The Bridge thumbnail will also contain a crop icon, indicting a crop has been made.) You can also double-click the crop icon and the Crop tool will zoom into the cropped area.

Camera Raw also includes useful presets and customizable crop settings. Click and hold the Crop icon's arrow and a drop-down menu appears. If you select Custom, you will get the dialog box.

And, if you click on the Crop pop-up menu, you get the options. Choose Ratio and you can type in custom ratio values. Choose Pixels, Inches, or cm, and select an exact crop dimension, much like you can in Photoshop's Crop option bar.

Creating a Panorama with Custom Crop

The Crop Custom settings can be very useful. For example, photographer Martin Sundberg discovered a clever way of quickly turning a normal image into a ready-to-print panorama.

This is what to do:

1. Select the Crop tool.

2. Select Custom from the drop-down menu. Martin Sundberg chooses Ratio, and types in a 6 to 17 ratio.

3. Click and drag the custom shape into place.

4. Next, in the Workflow Options window, select the crop size. Martin chooses a Crop Size of 6144 by 2168 (13.3MP). Now when he opens the file in Photoshop, it will automatically interpolate up to a printable size worthy of the panorama. Note: Cropping changes the size options.

Straighten Tool

Sometimes you just want things to be perfect, even if they aren't shot that way. Take Martin's example shown in Figure 4-29. Martin specializes in fast-moving action, and it's not always possible for him to frame a shot perfectly. In this shot, Martin wanted to straighten the horizon. With Camera Raw's Straighten tool, it's easy to get shots like this one right.

Here is what to do to fix a shot like this in Camera Raw:

1. Select the Straighten tool ( Figure 4-29) in the toolbar at the top of the Camera Raw window. (You can simply type A to select the tool.)

Figure 4-29

2. Click/drag and follow the slant of the horizon line.

3. That's all. When you release the mouse, Camera Raw does the rest, calculating the correct angle and adjusting the image to make up the difference. You can see the results in the viewing window with crop marks. The area that won't be deleted is grayed out. When you select Open Image and open the file in Photoshop, it will be cropped and straight. Clear straightening with Clear Crop from the Crop tool pop-up menu.

If you find it hard to visualize what the final image will look like in Camera Raw without opening the image in Photoshop or looking at it in Bridge, there is a workaround. You'll need to start by opening at least two RAW files in Camera Raw, including the one you wish to fix. Because Camera Raw creates thumbnails of the multiple images you can actually see the effects of the Straighten tool on the thumbnail. It's not a perfect solution, but it works.

Retouching and Red Eye Removal Tools

Camera Raw doesn't have anywhere near the retouching capabilities of Photoshop, but the Retouching tools (Healing and Clone) and Red Eye Removal tool-all new to Camera Raw-are great for simple tasks such as removing artifacts caused by dust on a sensor or red eye caused by on-camera strobes. The tools are nondestructive and always redoable.

Retouch Tool

The Retouch tool is located in the toolbar. When you select the tool, the options become Radius, which controls the size of the selection, and Type: Clone or Heal. The Heal tool blends the target and the source, while the Clone tool takes a copy of the source area, pastes it over the target area, and blends the edges.

I mostly use the Heal tool to remove small spots and blemishes located in areas of continuous tone, such as the facial skin. I actually don't use the Clone tool much in Camera Raw. If an image requires cloning, I prefer to do the work in Photoshop, where I have more options and control. Here's how to remove a spot. I'll use the Heal tool, but the procedure is the same for the Clone tool.

1. Choose the Retouch tool from the 1. toolbar by selecting Type: Heal.

2. Place your cursor over the spot and adjust the red/white dashed circle size by dragging, or adjust the size with the Radius slider. Adjust the size until it's about 25% larger than the spot to be removed. (The bracket keys also enlarge or shrink the spot size.)

3. A second circle in green/white dashes, will appear near your initial selection. If you make your circle too big, it may take a while to appear. This is the source for the healing tool and if you click inside the circle and drag, you can move the source to different positions while keeping the red target circle fixed.

The entire procedure can be repeated as many times as necessary on the same image until all the spots are removed. At any time, you can go back and relocate either the target or the source. Deselect unwanted selections by placing your cursor over the circle and using the Delete key. Selecting Clear All from the top right of the preview window will do just that.

You can toggle the visibility of the circles with the V key, or by selecting and deselecting the Show Overlay check box in the top right of the preview window area.

NOTE: If you have multiple images open in Camera Raw and you Select All, your Retouch tool work applies automatically to all the images. If you select Synchronize, you can apply your Retouch tool work selectively to specific images. This is useful if your images contain a common artifact caused by, say, dust on the camera sensor.

Red Eye Removal Tool

To use the Red Eye Removal tool:

1. Select the tool from the toolbar by clicking the eye icon.

2. Place the cursor over the red eye with the crosshair positioned slightly outside of the pupil. Click and drag until the rectangle is larger than the eye. Release your cursor and the red should disappear. You can adjust the effect by resizing the rectangle or by using the sliders. The Pupil Size slider will increase or decrease the size of the pupil, the Darken slider affects the opacity of the pupil.

3. Repeat this process as many times as necessary. Select Clear All from the top right of the preview window to start over. Select Show Overlay to turn visibility of the rectangle on and off or use the V key.

NOTE: You cannot make a Camera Raw preset that contains your Retouching or Red Eye Removal settings. However, with multiple images open in Camera Raw, click Select All and Synchronize and then select Spot Removal in the Synchronize dialog box settings and the same settings will apply to multiple images.