Camera Raw Newbies Tutorial For Adobe Photoshop

Before we explore how to use camera raw files and Photoshop, it is first necessary to learn what both of these terms mean as explained is this tutorial for Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is a software program that allows you to modify and create images on your computer. A camera raw file is a type of digital picture file, similar to the common jpeg file, but with some major differences.

Essentially, a jpeg file takes the image seen through the viewfinder of your digital camera, squishes it and modifies it so it will take up less memory. Some parts of your image, especially ‘shadow’ and ‘highlight details’, are lost forever. A raw camera file stores all the data for the image so you have exactly what your camera saw. The file size is about twice as large as a jpeg but is great for high resolution work.

Raw files are manipulated through Photoshop CS (Creative Suite). CS2, 3, and 4 all support camera raw files. However, you are not initially using Photoshop, but rather a part of its Creative Suite – Adobe Bridge. Adobe Bridge is a program that allows you to store and organize your images. Open Adobe Bridge by opening Photoshop and clicking on the Adobe Bridge shortcut button that appears on your default screen.

Use Adobe Bridge to navigate to the folder in which you have stored your raw files. You should see rows of thumbnails. Right-click on the image you wish to manipulate and a fly-out menu will appear. Your best bet is to select open in camera raw. Adobe Bridge will automatically open your selected file in the Camera-Raw plug-in.

When you open a Camera-Raw plug-in window there are five sections you will have to navigate. They are:
1. Tools
2. Image preview
3. Workflow options
4. Histogram
5. Settings panels
Options one through four essentially allow you to view your image and workspace in different ways. However, it is likely that you will spend most of your time using the settings panel.

The settings panel allows you to adjust the following:-

White balance – lets you adjust the balance of light in your photo. Select from a preset list of lighting option and then adjust the tint (warm to cool) or temperature (green to purple).

Exposure – changes the amount of light exposed in your photo. Adjust the brightness, contrast, and saturation.

Lens abnormalities – is a more advanced function that allows you to correct for quirks your camera may have.

Sharpening – allows you to make your photo appear crisper.

Curve adjustment – another advanced function that is not applicable for beginner use.

Once you have played with and adjusted your image to your liking, there are four options available to you:
1. Open – This saves your changes and opens your raw file in Photoshop CS2 for further manipulation.
2. Save – This also saves your changes, but in a new file while simultaneously saving your original file.
3. Done – This saves your changes to the original file.
4. Cancel – This deletes any changes you made to your original file.

For starters, it is best to save your raw file as a camera raw database. This keeps your settings together with your original image, even if you rename the file. It works best for files you want to keep on your computer only.

In the beginning, using a raw file over a jpeg may seem complicated and unnecessary. But after you become more familiar with the workings of Photoshop CS2 you will find it better to work with more versatile image files.