Composite images: why Elements won’t let you be defeated by contrast

Raw composite images: don't be defeated by contrast just because you have Elements

Remember that the version of Adobe Camera Raw in Elements is stripped-down compared to Photoshop proper, and that you won’t be able to target specific areas of your image when photo editing to make localised adjustments. So a solution is to produce two or more versions of your raw format file, then open them in Photoshop or Elements, combine them as layers in a single image and use layer masks to hide or reveal adjustments in specific areas.

Raw composite images: don't be defeated by contrast just because you have Elements

The technique works best when the areas you want to target are fairly easy to select, either with brushes or with a selection tool (you can then fill the selection on the mask), but you can also combine two exposures using a luminosity mask to produce an ‘HDR’ (High Dynamic Range) image.

Opening alternative raw edits
You’ll need to process your raw file twice, bringing out different details and tones in each version. If you’re using Photoshop, once you’ve produced your first edit of a raw file and opened it in the main editor, you’ll be able to reopen it from Bridge.

It’ll open again in Camera Raw, with the last settings that you configured applied – if you go to the Settings menu, you’ll see that Image Settings is selected.

You can now alter the settings to create a second version of the file, then open this new version as before; the filename will have an appropriate number appended.

If you’re using Elements you can’t do this; instead, after opening the first edit (usually in Full Edit mode, since you’ll be using layers), you need to go to File > Save As and save with a different filename before you open the raw file in Camera Raw again.

Another way of producing alternate versions of a raw file is to make your first set of edits, click Save Image, rename the image and save it to your desktop.

This way you don’t have to close the image, just readjust the sliders to produce a second edit, then save this new file in the same way with a different name.

Whichever method you use you’ll need to end up with two versions of your original raw file. Typically one will concentrate on bringing out details in the highlights, while the other focuses on the shadow areas.


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