5. This is the effect of using the controls under the H tab (right, a darker, more vivid image) compared to the Convert to Grayscale check box under the B tab (left, a flat image).
6. As long as we're talking about image enhancement and RAW files, note that all RAW files need sharpening. So, you might think that sharpening in ACR is a good idea. Well, if you sharpen in ACR, you apply sharpening to the entire image. That's seldom necessary. Take my iceberg image, for example. Why would I want to sharpen the sky and water? I only want to sharpen the ice. A new feature in CS3, Smart Filters, lets you do what I just described by applying the filter as if you're using an adjustment layer and a layer mask.
7. Two useful tools in ACR are found under the L (Lens Correction) tab. Chromatic Aberration reduces and can even eliminate red/cyan and blue/yellow fringes, which can occur when two strong colors meet in a scene. This happens most often with inexpensive, wide-angle lenses. In my Antarctica shot, taken with a Canon 28-105mm lens, there were no chromatic aberrations. Lens Vignetting is also a useful feature for reducing and eliminating vignetting, which can be caused by using the wrong-sized lens hood or by stacking filters. Here, I used Lens Vignetting to create the opposite effect, darkening the edges of the image—not a good idea for this image, but on a portrait or still life, it can enhance an image, drawing more attention to the main subject. Ansel Adams used this technique, as did some of the Renaissance painters.
8. Another feature you can play with is the Tone Curve, found under the T (Tone Curve) tab. You'll see the histogram for the image "behind" the curve line, making Curves easier to understand for new users of that tool. Here, you'll find sliders for Highlights, Lights, Darks and Shadows. Ah, that's the way Curves should be.
In closing, I'll leave you with something I say at my workshops: RAW Rules!
Rick Sammon has published 27 books, including his latest: Idea to Image, Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Digital Photography 2.0, Rick Sammon's Travel and Nature Photography and Rick Sammon's Digital Imaging Workshops. Visit www.ricksammon.com for more information and meet up with Rick at one of the PCPhoto/Outdoor Photographer workshops.