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

Image Orientation Buttons

Camera Raw offers a couple of ways to rotate images to their proper orientation:

1. Click on an appropriate arrow key from the toolbar, circled in Figure 4-41.

Figure 4-41

2. Use the keystroke R to rotate right (clockwise) or Shift-R (clockwise) and L (or Shift-L) to rotate left.


Before working on a RAW image, it's a good idea to analyze what needs to be done. First, Camera Raw generates a large preview reflecting the current settings. It also provides other ways to analyze an image, including a histogram and Shadow/ Highlights warnings. Let's take a look at these features.

Preview Option

At the top of the Camera Raw window is a Preview checkbox. Use this to toggle between the current settings and the Camera Raw settings applied when you opened the file in Camera Raw. Unchecked means you are viewing your image at Camera Raw settings applied when you opened the image; checked means you are viewing the image with current settings. (Toggle the P key for checked and unchecked.) Any Crop or Straighten adjustments remain, regardless of whether or not the Preview checkbox is selected.

If you haven't touched any of the Camera Raw controls, the Preview checked version will look exactly like the Preview unchecked version.

Shadow/Highlight Clipping Warnings

At the top of the Camera Raw histogram are two triangles. They will change colors to indicate which channel is clipping. If you click on the triangle to the left, anything that falls below the range of 0, or pure black, is shown in purple, as indicated in Figure 4-44. You can also use the keystroke U.

Figure 4-44

If you click on the triangle to the right, anything that falls beyond the range of 255, or pure white, is shown in red in Figure 4-45. You can also use the keystroke O. If either warning is active, it will have a white outline around the arrow; a black outline means it's inactive. Shadow and Highlight clipping warnings take any tonal or color adjustments you make in Camera Raw into consideration, so the RAW file itself might be fine, but may show clipping warnings after an adjustment.

Figure 4-45

Color Histogram

The histogram found in the top right of the Camera Raw window displays red, green, and blue values visually. As you change tonal and color settings, the histogram adjusts accordingly. Under the histogram, there is an at-a-glance accounting of such camera data as ISO, focal length, f-stop, and shutter speed.

Other Analyzing Controls

There are other "hidden" controls that help you analyze and make decisions about your images. When you hold the Option (Alt) key and slide the Exposure, Recovery, or Blacks sliders in the Basic Tab, your preview will reflect clipping information based on color channels. Also, in the Detail tab, when you hold the Option (Alt) key and slide any of the Sharpening sliders, you'll get real-time visual information as well. (This requires 100% view mode or higher.)


Camera Raw has eight tabs, and each tab is a gateway to controlling the look and feel of your RAW image. Let's look at the tabs, one by one.

The different tabs are represented graphically on the right side of the Camera Raw window. If you hold your mouse over each icon, a balloon appears naming the function of each tab.

Basic Tab

Under the Basic tab, you'll find settings for White Balance, Temperature, Tint, Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light, Blacks, Brightness, Contrast, Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation.

Tone Curve Tab

Like Exposure in the Basic tab, Tone Curve controls let you adjust the entire tonal range of an image. You have two curves to choose from: Parametric, and Point. With the Parametric curve you adjust tonal values with four sliders: Highlights, Lights, Darks, and Shadows. With the Point curve, you can adjust up to 14 different points throughout an image's tonal range (from shadows to highlights). You can save Tone Curve settings for use in another image.

Detail Tab

Detail controls, found under the Detail tab, control Sharpening (Amount, Radius, Detail, Masking) and Noise Reduction Luminance and Sharpening controls.


Under the HSL/Grayscale tab, you'll find very useful color and black and white controls. HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminance. Camera Raw uses a method of defining and working with color based on these three values. Many of you will find working with color this way intuitive, easy, and even fun!

When you select the Convert to Grayscale box, grayscale conversion is as simple or complex as you like. You can quickly convert an image to black and white with good results by using the Auto setting, which is the default setting. Or you can use the Grayscale Mix controls and come up with a custom conversion of your own.

Split Toning Tab

Under the Split Toning tab, you can control the tint and saturation of a tint applied to the highlight areas of any image separately from that applied to the shadow areas. The Balance slider in the middle controls the range of each. These controls can be applied to a black and white or a color image.

Lens Corrections Tab

Under the Lens Corrections tab are tools to overcome Chromatic Aberration and Vignetting.

Camera Calibration Tab

You can use the Camera Calibration Controls to improve the color accuracy of your RAW files. You can also use these controls to create special effects and grayscale images from RGB.

Presets Tab

Under the Presets tab, you can view previously made Camera Raw presets and apply them to selected images. You can also create new presets based on current Camera Raw settings by clicking on the Create New Preset icon located at the bottom of the Camera Raw window. To delete a preset, select it and then click the trash icon that's also found at the bottom of the Camera Raw window.

What to Do When You Mess Up?

There are a couple ways to undo unwanted operations in Camera Raw. Of course, there is the standard Undo command, (Ctrl-Z, which undoes the last action you took. You can also hold the Option (Alt) key and Cancel changes to Reset. Click Reset and your image will remain open in Camera Raw, but it reverts to the settings that were applied when the image first opened in Camera Raw.

If you want to clear all Camera Raw settings and revert to the original settings, select Reset Camera Raw Defaults from the Setting pop-up menu, shown in Figure 4-59. (From Bridge you can do this on one or more selected thumbnails by selecting Edit→Develop Settings→Clear Settings.)

Figure 4-59

What to Do When You Are Done? You have several options when you are finished adjusting and working on your image in Camera Raw, represented by four buttons across the bottom of the Camera Raw interface:

Save Image when you want to convert your RAW file (or files) into a TIFF, JPEG, PSD, or DNG file. When you select Save Image, you get the dialog box.

Open Image when you want to open your RAW file as-is in Photoshop. If you selected Open in Photoshop as Smart Objects in the Workflow Options dialog box, Open Image will be replaced with Open Object.

Cancel if you want to exit Camera Raw with no new settings applied.

Done to apply your current settings, exit Camera Raw, and return to Bridge or Photoshop (depending on which application is host to Camera Raw) without opening the file.

Excerpted from "Photoshop CS3 RAW" by Mikkel Aaland ISBN: 9780596510527 Copyright 2008 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.