Converting from RAW (RAF) in CS4
Much of the process used in converting a RAW file can be transferred to looking at any file and the processing it may (probably will) need. If you have a RAW converter other than CS then most will have similar ways of working. Other folk who are more expert than me or work differently may be able to add more detail or extra tips to this.
Starting with a RAW file open in Camera RAW
This is the file I will work on.
and this is how the Camera RAW page looks.
As I know that folk will want to look at the sliders I have copied those separately.
As you can see the Histogram displays the colour components and most of the sliders are on 0 - except for Brightness, Contrast and blacks. The White balance readings at the top can also be adjusted - the top 'temperature' reads the colour 'balance' and the bottom the tints in the image. Personally I like the photo to be a little 'warmer' and usually move that top slider to around 5000 - but that can depend on the scene and how I want it to look. I also usually move the tint slider to 0 as I can later add any tints which I want.
The first task is to check whether there are any blown highlights.
To do this place the cursor on the 'Exposure' slider arrow and press 'Alt'.
As you can see in this photo the screen has turned completely black which means there are no blown highlights. These would be revealed as white patches, and the exposure slider can be moved to the left until they disappear. When doing this, depending on how 'blown' the highlights are you may end with a dark picture. You can balance this by using the 'Recovery' or 'Fill Light' sliders - adjusting these sliders and getting the best resolution of the problem. But blown highlights are impossible to eradicate completely so best to try and avoid them.
Next we test for the same 'underexposed areas' by placing the cursor on the 'Blacks' slider and pressing 'Alt'
This time the screen turns white with coloured patches on - this shows the area of the photo which was underexposed. To correct that the Blacks slider can be moved to the left.
Having done the best with exposure it is now time for tuning the image to reflect as near as possible what you saw. Colours, shading, sharpness, cropping, straightening, contrast.
So on that first page of sliders there is Contrast - which I usually find helps the image if you move the slider to the right, increasing contrast, Clarity, which I also move to the right increasing the clarity of the edges, and Vibrance which adds to the 'oomph' of the colours. All of these sliders act on the image in front of you so you can see the effect immediately (live view) and adjust them to your own wishes. There is also Saturation which I rarely move as to the left is B&W which I am not personally fond of, and to the right colours often seem to me to become 'overcooked'. There is also Brightness which I may or may not feel the need to move. Every one of the sliders is there for a personal assessment of what is needed to 'make' the picture, so the choice is yours. Slide them both ways to see the effect on the picture and arrive at a position which pleases you.
Cropping some of the excess area of the picture off without losing its perspective and bringing the Tower to conform more nearly with the rule of thirds, so using the crop tool at the top, a rectangle is drawn. You will notice that the rectangle has handles on each corner and each side, so that if there is something poking in which would be better gone or there is something which you want included which has been cut off you can adjust your rectangle. You may be able to see that the original photo is still there but 'greyed' out, so fine adjustments can be made.
When the crop is as you want it you can click on 'Fit in view'.
The next stage I go to is the sharpening
As you can see from this reproduction I take the sharpening as far as it will comfortably go without increasing noise. Again because it is live view noise increase can be seen so you can adjust the sliders accordingly. Radius I tend to leave at 1, detail and mask need to be watched carefully as detail can increase noise quite a bit. The last two sliders are for reducing noise 'Luminance' I usually take to maximum - but again too much noise reduction can diminish detail so the live view gives you immediate control and you can balance the sliders to produce the best image. Colour noise I find is usually around 25/50.
Next I adjust the colours - the trees are looking a little too blue and the grass needs to be a little less red and a little more green. Adjust these sliders gently and just a little to avoid garish colours. I usually start with Luminance and work backward through the tabs at the top (Just my personal quirk).
The last adjustment I make is to check the levels and curves, which is to be found under the second button under the colour histogram and then save the finished image. I save the image as a Tiff in a relevant folder and when it has been saved I 'Cancel' the adjustments I have made on the original RAW file. This leaves the original RAW file as it came from the camera, then if better software or my understanding of the software improves I have a base image to return to.
The image is then opened in Photoshop (CS4) for some final adjustments.
(see part 2)
This is the final image post processed
- Trip up The Shard is the 'high' light for this #Fujifilm #F100fd owner's whistle-stop #London tour http://t.co/J965KOuVxV
- Totally prepared for Saturday morning long-run #XP200 http://t.co/AK00teL6pW
- Looks like this #Fujifilm #S6500fd owner's talen has really blossomed now Spring has arrived http://t.co/zfp5aqeu2p
- RT @PhotoMadd: @fujifilm_uk love the macro mode of the X20. This bluebell was literally touching the lens! http://t.co/J8UQuGZh48
- "Why I love this picture" by @kevin_mullins http://t.co/ioF26ii0lp #candid #xpro1 #wedding