Tuesday, January 23, 2007
How To Process A RAW File
A step-by-step approach to getting the most from a RAW image file
5. Saturation. Skip down the interface to find Saturation at the bottom. This is another highly subjective control, and you have to be careful with it. A little addition of saturation (the intensity of a color) goes a long way. A common mistake of many photographers is to increase saturation too much so that the image either looks garish or doesn't reproduce properly outside of Photoshop. That said, many subjects, especially nature, sky, architecture and travel, look better with a slight addition of saturation of 5 to 10 points. With people pictures, it's best to use caution, as the saturation control can make skin tones look unnatural at best and blotchy at worst.
6. Recheck the file for possible readjustment. At this point, I usually reevaluate the overall brightness of the image and either do further tone curve adjustments or Brightness slider adjustments. Since nothing actually has been changed at the image's pixel level, you can adjust and readjust the controls in Camera Raw to your heart's content without hurting your image as it has yet to be converted.
I always check noise issues in an image. In the Detail tab next to the Adjust tab, you'll see three adjustments (CS2 version): Sharpness, Luminance Smoothing, and Color Noise Reduction.
1. Sharpness. Sharpness should be set to zero (it's best not to sharpen the photo at this point in the process).
2. Luminance Smoothing. This affects the general noise that comes from a sensor and may be seen in skies and other smooth tones.
3. Color Noise Reduction. This affects color noise that often comes in dark parts of an image, especially when that image is underexposed.
To use CS2's noise-reduction settings, greatly enlarge your image so you can see any noise. These noise-reduction settings aren't used to get rid of problematic noise, but to reduce normal levels of noise so that the image goes into Photoshop with the highest quality possible. If you use higher settings, check your fine detail to make sure you haven't caused problems with them. With really high levels of noise, you're better off using software programs specially designed to deal with noise problems, such as Noise Ninja, Kodak Digital GEM or nik Multimedia Dfine.
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