Most compact camera’s don’t have the option, but if you are as lucky that you own a DSLR camera, you have the option to shoot in Raw. Ever wondering why people shoot in Raw? Or wondering what Raw even is? And what are the advantages? This tutorial will learn some basics things of colour correcting and editing in a raw photograph, and will explore some options that are not so easy accesible when editing a .jpg.
For this tutorial you need Adobe Photoshop, which also has the Camera Raw application or plugin built in. This tutorial is aimed at beginners. The following tumbnails show the image saved without changing the settings, and one with changing the settings.
For the tutorial obviously an (unedited) raw file is needed:
The initial image is already pretty good, but it is perhaps somewhat too bright. Additionaly some more colour could be added as well. Download the image and open it in Photoshop. Now it will not show the standard photoshop screen, but the Adobe Camera Raw screen. And that is were this tutorial starts!
What is Raw?
It is the ‘raw’ photograph direct from the digital camera; It is not yet generated into a jpeg; no white balance, tonal curve and sharpening adjustments, no compression. Also RAW is mostly 12 bit per channel, which means that it contains more colour channels (and colour data) as .jpg. The following two links give an extensive explenation of what Raw exactly is: the Raw File Format and Why Raw. The latter gives also some technical background on why to use raw.
Step 1: Basic Settings
A lot of basis settings can be changed in this start up screen, such as the temperature. This first attribute is quite useful when the image was shot in a wrong whitebalance, and the image temperature is wrong. Also it is very easy to deal with over or underexposure. If you would have to brighten up or darken down a .jpg, it would be a lot harder and a lot more of the image detail would be lost. Also the strenght of blacks can be easily enhanced, and some features such as clarity, which are so far I know not directly availaible in Photoshop itself. Play with the settings until you have a look that is good enough. I used the following settings (clicking will enlarge):
Step 2: Split Toning
Now this step will easily add popular color grading as it is using Split Toning. What the settings shown in the image below do is that they tone a specified colour for both shadows and highlights. Using a orange like tone for the highlights and a blue tone for the shadows works in this case pretty well, but it does not work for all images and lighting conditions. You might try some different tones, I used the following settings.
Step 3: Adding a vignette
In nowadays popular movies and images, vignettes are used quite often, besides the use of Depth of Field (DoF). Vignette can bring the focus to the middle of an image and bring a certain mood to a scene.
In Adobe Camera, adding a vignette is very easy; it can just be done by moving sliders: you can change the amount, the roundness, the midpoint, how much it is feathered (how soft the edges are) and how present highlights are through the vignette. Remember, a vignette is not only black, it can be white as well: moving the amount slider to a negative value will make a black vignette and positive a white one. I used the following settings for my vignette:
Step 4: Wrapping Up
Now that you’re finished, it is also possible to use some more extremes, since the editing is somewhat modest. I tuned the settings even further, and also changed some values in the HSL / grayscale tab, and came up with the following:
Now there a lot of more screens where it is possible to sharpen the image, change the hue, saturation or luminance of different colour changels, and so on. Experiment with it! I am very interested in your results. Also note the toolbar in the top of the screen: there are tools for correcting a skewed horizon, turning an image, cropping, etc. If you are interested, here is also some more background information from Adobe on Raw.