Quick color correct of raw files in Photoshop

[heading style=”1″]OK kiddies today we are going to show a quick way of color correcting RAW files. Nothing spectacular here just a fast way to get the job done without any frills.[/heading]

Lets get started….

First we need an image, so lets open one up and see what we got. I’ll be using one that I shoot on holiday this summer so in part this tut serves a dual purpose, honing my skills as well as (hopefully) helping someone out.

This is the image we will be working today, seems a bit dull and drab:

Ok, generally I like to drag the file I’m going to use from the folder it is in on to the PS icon in my dock (OSX, windows users keep reading) so that is what I’m going to do. However, I will outline some other ways as well.

  1. Open Ps, select the file menu and select “Open in Bridge”
  2. Navigate to the folder where you have your files and select the one you want
  3. Right-click the one you want and select “Open in Camera Raw”

And there you go….its open in camera raw through Bridge.

[note color=”#FFCC00″]  Just a note…One of the advantages of working with RAW files is it is none destructive. So you make your changes and then save the file in the format you want. Another advantage to working RAW!!!! Also, working in Bridge allows you to also work in Photoshop at the same time , so keep that in mind.[/note]

This has its advantages, read note, but I’m going to go ahead and just use Photoshop for now.

So, when you drag your file onto Photoshop this is what comes up. In my example you can see the photo I will be adjusting.

Lets see what all this is and how to use it…

First up, lets look to adjust our white balance, so look over to your right for this:

We should adjust the white balance first as it is going to set the stage, so to speak, for the rest of the adjustments we will do later and getting this write will get rid of most of your problems straight away.

Under the histogram and below the all the little icons we the white balance section with the first item being a drop down menu to select whether you want to keep the WB “As Shot” meaning how it came from your camera or any of the presets that follow. As you can see, my photo’s WB is reasonably OK but we will select on of the presets anyway. Since this was shot on a bright sunny day around the hotel pool, I’m going to select the “Daylight” preset.

This is what we get:

Well that doesn’t look too good, its added a bit of a reddish tint. I don’t like it, so in this case I’m going to leave it at the default “As Shot” which looks pretty good to me. However, do try out the different presets until you find that looks best to you and in a lot of cases this should be enough.

But lets try another method that I use in my own workflow and that works great! We are going to learn to use the WB Tool.

OK, lets click on the WB Tool in the tool palette above the pic. Once we have it selected all we need to do is click on something in our photo thats supposed to be a light mid tone, light grey and the tool will do the rest. Its that easy! If you need to go back to the original, all you need to do is select As Shot again and presto back to default.

In my photo, the difference is minimal but to me it makes a world of difference and that is what counts. It needs to look good to us!

Next up is Exposure. This is what I struggle with the most at the time of taking the picture with my camera. I just can’t seem to get it right ever so I normally have to spend loads of time here to get the images to look good. I do agree with many people that this could be the most important step in color correction but I just can’t seem to get it right without having the WB set right.

Now in my image is not the best to one to show how this works as it will need minimal exposure control. I probably should have choosen a photo that was either over or under exposed but this is what I had so off we go. Having said that, I do feel that this image is a bit under exposed so I’m going to move my slider to the right to about the +.60 area as this looks good to me and I’m going to check that nothing is clipping in the histogram. In this case we won’t be needing the “Recovery Slider” as the Highlights aren’t Clipping. Just in case, if your image looks right to you but just the very brightest lights are clipping you can use the recovery Slider to bring down just those areas.

[note color=”#FFCC00″] In the histogram there is a clipping warning symbol. If you look to the upper right hand corner you will see a little triangle. If that triangle is white you are clipping. By clicking on that icon you can see the areas in your image that are clipping and then adjust accordingly. [/note]

Now on to the shadows.

After working on the exposure, I feel that the shadows could use some work so what I would do here is adjust the “Blacks” slider. What this does is basically control the darkest darks in the image. What I’m, looking for is a bit darker darks, so I want to move the slider to the right just about 4 ticks, to about 9. Again this is subjective so if it looks good to you, go with it!

This looks good to me so I’ll leave it there.

In my case, I’m going to skip over the “Brightness” slider since I really don’t need to adjust the midtones in this image. But if you find that your image is lacking in those areas go ahead and adjust to your hearts content although be careful not to blow out your highlights again.

One last thing to do and we are done in camera raw.

So lets see how “crisp” or “soft” we can make our image.

I’m going to give this just a bit of both Clarity and Vibrance to really make it sing. Clarity can be used to both “sharpen” or “blur” an image, well really it works on the midtone contrast by either increasing it or decreasing it and thus giving the effect without really sharpening it.

For my image I like about +12 Clarity and +9 Vibrance.To me it really makes the image standout.

and that’s the image (almost) DONE!

Below you have my finished settings:

And there you have it, a really easy way to get your Raw images color corrected in a flash.

Next up we will be looking at adjusting the Contrast Curves to see how we can achieve that polished/finished look.

See you next time!!







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