Monday, June 25, 2007
Optimize RAW files twice—once for highlights and once for shadows—for a better tonal range
2. Process the highlights. Next, I worked the tonality of the highlights, the bright areas. First, though, I returned the adjustments back to how the image came from the camera. You do this by going to Camera Raw Defaults. In all programs, you use the drop-down menu at the top of the adjustments on the right, but this will be different in Camera Raw 4.0 (with CS3) than in earlier versions. Click on the drop-down arrows until you see Camera Raw Defaults.
Also, in earlier versions of Camera Raw, the adjustments are checked as Auto for the default. This isn't helpful. Uncheck them all, then save this as a New Camera Raw Default (same menu). This now gives you the image as shot.
I then worked on the tonality of the bright areas:
• Any Exposure increase would blow out the highlights, which I wanted to keep, so I avoid that.
• Blacks are increased a lot to boost the contrast and snap of the image.
• Recovery is a great new adjustment. It drops the brightness of the lightest areas without changing midtones or blacks. I'll use it to darken the brightest parts of the photo when necessary.
The midtones looked okay, so no work was needed with the Tone Curve.
The color did need some help. Skies vary in how they're captured by a sensor:
• The Temperature slider increases the blueness of the image when the slider is moved to the left. This makes the sky a richer color.
• Vibrance intensifies the sky color a little bit more. (I tried Saturation, but found it looked unreal.)
This image is then opened into Photoshop, converting it from RAW, and saved with a name that includes "highlights." Now the bright areas look good, but the shadows don't. Again, that's okay. Adjustments are made here purely to optimize the bright areas.
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