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How to Make Adjustments in the Camera Raw Converter

The idea behind using the raw converter is that you want to get the tonal range and brightness values set to an optimum before opening the image in Photoshop Elements 11. You’ll find your editing tasks, such as adjusting color and brightness, much easier in Elements if your image starts somewhere in the ballpark of a good tonal range.

Follow these steps to make adjustments:

1

Open an image in the raw converter.

Either use a Camera Raw file or choose File→Open As and open a JPEG or TIFF file. In the Open As drop-down list from within the Open As dialog box, choose Camera Raw. (A long list of files supported follows the Camera Raw option.)

2

Turn on Shadow and Highlight Clipping.

Click the up-pointing arrows above the histogram in the right pane of the Camera Raw converter. Clicking the arrows turns on the clipping views.

The raw converter displays settings controls in a precise order for making adjustments. You begin at the top of the pane and work down. After finishing adjustments in the Basic pane, you next visit the Detail pane.

3

Select an option from the White Balance drop-down list.

For most images, just choose Auto. If you have a radical shift in white balance, such as the one shown, then make a choice for another temperature setting that brings the image into an acceptable white balance. For the most part, just choose Auto for images that don’t have a radical shift in white balance.

4

Move the Exposure slider to bring the overall exposure into an acceptable setting.

You visually examine the photo, looking for an overall brightness without too much regard for the shadow and highlight clipping. You can recover the detail later. But realize that you will need to return to this slider after making other adjustments.

5

Adjust Contrast.

Move the Contrast sliders to add some contrast. You’re looking for obtaining some snap in the image and correcting for a flat appearance.

6

Make decisions for clipping.

In many photos, you can’t recover all shadow and highlight data. You’ll see clipping often, especially with images taken with lower-end cameras. You may find that you have to let go of the idea for capturing all the highlight (or shadow detail). Look for general overall exposure being within an acceptable range.

7

Move the Black slider.

You want to look for a rich black in your photo. If the blacks look dirty and dingy, move the black slider to the right just far enough so that not much clipping occurs. If a few small areas are clipped, you want to leave the clipping in favor of adding richness in some of the black areas of your photo.

8

Adjust the Clarity.

Zoom in to your image to 400% or more by using the Zoom tool or pressing Ctrl+plus sign (+) or Command+plus sign (+). Move the Clarity slider to a setting where the image pixels appear smooth without a speckled look.

9

Adjust Vibrance.

Be careful with the Vibrance adjustment. Make a small adjustment to make the photo appear vibrant but don’t overdo it.

10

Make Detail adjustments.

Click the Detail button at the top of the panel. Be certain your view is 400% or more. These adjustments need to be made in a zoomed in view to see results of your edits.

Move sliders for sharpening and eyeball the results. Adjust the Luminance and Color Sliders in zoomed-in views to see a smoothing of the image and lower grain effect.

11

Preview the results.

Return to the Basic pane by clicking the Basic icon at the top of the pane. Deselect Preview and then select it again to toggle the preview. Look over your results. You may need to return to a few adjustments to fine-tune your corrections.

12

When you’re finished in the raw converter, click the Open Image button.

The photo opens in Photo Editor, where you can use the Enhance tools to fine-tune the brightness, contrast, and color correction.

When moving sliders in the raw converter, you can double-click any slider to return that adjustment to the default.

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