Adobe Camera Raw is now so good that we find we barely need to open images into Photoshop any more. Such is the depth of tools and commands on offer that you can perform almost every task you need to in Camera Raw.
The tools for tonal control arguably surpass those found in Photoshop. Not only can you fine-tune the tones in your image universally, but you can also target and adjust different areas to enhance detail, dodge and burn, or make a huge variety of other effects.
What’s more, because Camera Raw (and Lightroom) employs parametric editing, your changes aren’t permanent. Instead, the changes are saved as extra data alongside your original file (whether it’s a raw file, TIFF or JPEG). Each and every setting, brush stroke, heal point and colour shift can be adjusted or deleted.
In this tutorial we’ll show you how to boost colours and details in different areas of your images. There are four tools in particular that are invaluable for this. Alongside the Adjustment Brush and Graduated Filter is the new Radial Filter tool, which enables you to define an area and then make changes to it.
The Targeted Adjustment Tool is also useful for selective adjustments. But rather than defining an area, the tool lets you zero in on different colour ranges. We’ll show you how to master these tools for a variety of tonal effects, from boosting colours to softening skin and adding a film-like border.
How to use Adobe Camera Raw for all your photo editing needs: steps 1-3
01 Open in Camera Raw
Download our free start image to follow along! Open Bridge, then navigate to the tones_before.dng file. Right-click it and choose Open in Camera Raw. (You needn’t even have Photoshop open to do this.). If you’re using your own file, you can also open JPEGs and TIFFs into Camera Raw in this way.
02 Correct white balance
Grab the White Balance tool from the Toolbar and click on the black shoulders to set this as neutral. Keep clicking until you find the right look, and tweak the Temperature and Tint sliders in the Basic Panel manually. Set Temperature to 6700 and Tint to +10.
03 Make basic tweaks
Use the other sliders to improve the tones. Set Exposure +0.85 to lighten the image, Highlights to -66, Shadows to +33, and Whites to -48 to tease out detail in the tonal extremes. To boost colour intensity, set Vibrance to +31 and Saturation to +13.
PAGE 1 – How to use Adobe Camera Raw for all your photo editing needs: steps 1-3
PAGE 2 – How to use Adobe Camera Raw for all your photo editing needs: steps 4-6
PAGE 3 – How to use Adobe Camera Raw for all your photo editing needs: steps 7-9
PAGE 4 – How to use Adobe Camera Raw for all your photo editing needs: steps 10-12
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