The Amazing Power of Camera RAW – Part 2

By Cory Disbrow on December 22nd, 2011   |    Posted in:  Processing   |    2 Comments

Hello readers! Today, we’re going to pick up right where we left off yesterday in the Camera RAW tutorial.

At the end of yesterday’s post, we had finished things up in the basic tab of Camera RAW, making adjustments to Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light, Blacks, Clarity, and Vibrance.

The Vibrance slider adds saturation to the colors in the photo that it deems in need of it. That works great, but I also like to go in do some manual tinkering of the colors, which is when I go over to the HSL/Grayscale tab, which looks like a few horizontal lines. Once I get in there, the first tab I go to is the Saturation tab. There you will see all the different colors, from red down to magenta. You can then push and pull individual colors. For this shot, I felt pretty good about most of the colors, but I really like a deep blue sky in my shots. So, I set the Blue slider to 33. I also like the faint purples and magentas in Sleeping Beauty Castle, so I set those to 25 and 28 respectively.

From there, we’ll move to the Luminance tab. This one allows us to darken or brighten the different colors as we see fit. Like I said in the last paragraph, I like to give my colors a nice deep feel to them, so I tend to pull these sliders into the negatives. I brought the Orange slider to -11 for the turrets on the Castle. The next thing I noticed were the trees. For some reason, greens tend to overexpose from my camera. To take care of this, I moved both the Yellow and Green sliders, with both at -17. Sometimes, the Yellow slider will do more to combat overexposed greens than the Green slider will! To go along with my hope for a nice and deep blue sky, I pulled the Blue slider down to -28. Then to add some depth to the purple and magenta I saturated in the Saturation tab, I also darken the Purple and Magenta sliders, at -21 and -16 respectively. That looks something like this:

And that does it for colors! From here, we’ll move over to the Detail tab, which looks like two triangles. This is where we’ll take care of sharpening. When using the sharpening tools, it is a good idea to use the zoom tool and go to 100% to see the full effects. Under Sharpening, the first slider is for Amount. This is pretty self explanatory, as you can choose the amount of sharpening that gets applied. I chose to go with 70, which s as far as I could go without the image looking too sharp. Next is the Radius slider. This one determines the size of the pixels that get sharpened. Pick a small number, very small pixels get sharpened. Pick a big number, and bigger chunks of pixels get clumped together. I tend to stay on the side of a smaller radius, so I used 0.9.

Underneath that is Detail. This is kind of like a Tonal Contrast or Topaz slider, but to a slightly smaller degree. The further over you slide, the more pushed detail you can see. I went halfway with this one, and set it to 50. Then last but certainly not least is the Masking slider. This one is really, really cool. It selects how much of the image actually gets sharpened. So, if you applied a ton of detail to a building, but you don’t like the effect it made on the sky, you can slide over the Masking slider to have it sharpen and detail the building, but not the sky. If you click and hold on the slider while also pressing the Alt key on windows or Option key on Mac, you will see a white sheet go over your photo. As you slide the slider over, parts of the image will turn black. The parts that turn black are the parts that won’t be sharpened, and the parts that are white are the parts that are being sharpened. For this shot, I slid it over to 72 so the Castle was sharpened, but not the sky. This tab will look something like this:

Almost done, I promise!! This last step is optional. I like to have a little drama to my shot and add a vignette, darkening the corners. To do this in Camera RAW, you need to go to the Lens Corrections tab, which looks like lens elements, or a couple parenthesis. At the bottom of that, you can see where it says Lens Vignetting. That’s where we’ll be working. The top slider that says Amount, which determines how much of a vignette is added. I went pretty heavy with this one, and set it to -81. The only other slider is the Midpoint slider, which determines how close to the center of the frame the vignette goes. I went with 15, which added enough vignette without taking over the Castle or the reflection of the Castle in the moat.

Wow!! After typing all that up, it seems like a ton. But in reality, it really isn’t all that bad, and when I originally edited this photo, it only took about 5-10 minutes to do all of it. And without any further ado, here is the finished product!

So, that brings us to a close on my tutorial on using only Camera RAW to edit a Disney photo. I hope you guys learned a little bit from this one, and also had some fun. I know I did writing it. Please feel free to let us know what you think in the comments, and if you have any tips or tricks of your own, feel free to post them in our forums! Thanks for reading, and we’ll see ya real soon!!


  1. Angie   |   Dec 22, 2011

    Great tutorial. I am kind of new to editing and this is a great step by step way for me to edit my photos. Can’t wait to find time to use it. Thanks!

  2. Chris   |   Dec 23, 2011

    Thanks for this tutorial! I almost always stay on the basic tab in Camera Raw, but now I know what the sliders on the other tabs do. Gonna go back to some older photos now and try some things out.



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