In the Camera Raw dialog, you can perform preliminary adjustments and modifications to a raw image before editing it in Photoshop Elements. With the Preview option enabled, you can see how the modified image appears.

The options available include sliders to modify the attributes of the image. For example, you can change the exposure, brightness, clarity, and saturation and vibrance. The number of options available to modify the image also depends on the Process Version used. For example, some sliders like Shadows and Whites that appear while using Process Version 2012 do not appear when Process Version 2010 is used. Likewise, the Fill Light slider that appears when Process Version 2010 is used does not appear when Process Version 2012 is used.

Using the histogram and RGB values in camera raw

The Camera Raw histogram shows all three channels (red, green, and blue) of the image simultaneously. The histogram changes automatically as you adjust the settings in the Camera Raw dialog box.

As you move the Zoom tool, Hand tool, or White Balance tool over the preview image, you see the RGB values in the upper-right corner of the dialog box.

RGB values of an image
RGB values of an image

White balance controls for camera raw

A digital camera records the white balance at the time of exposure as metadata, which you can see when you open the file in the Camera Raw dialog box. This setting usually yields the correct color temperature. You can adjust it if the white balance is not quite right.

The Adjust tab in the Photoshop Camera Raw dialog box includes the following three controls for correcting a color cast in your image:

White Balance

Sets the color balance of the image to reflect the lighting conditions under which the photo was taken. In some cases, choosing a white balance from the White Balance menu provides satisfactory results. In many cases, you may want to customize the white balance using the Temperature and Tint adjustments.

Note:

The Camera Raw plug‑in can read the white balance settings of some cameras. Leave White Balance set to As Shot to use the camera’s white balance settings. For cameras whose white balance settings are not recognized, selecting As Shot is the same as choosing Auto: the Camera Raw plug‑in reads the image data and automatically adjusts the white balance.

Temperature

Fine-tunes the white balance to a custom color temperature. Set the color temperature using the Kelvin color temperature scale. Move the slider to the left to correct a photo taken at a lower color temperature of light: the plug‑in makes the image colors cooler (bluish) to compensate for the lower color temperature (yellowish) of the ambient light. Conversely, move the slider to the right to correct a photo taken at a higher color temperature of light: the plug‑in makes the image colors warmer (yellowish) to compensate for the higher color temperature (bluish) of the ambient light.

Temperature sliders
A. Moving the Temperature slider to the right corrects a photo taken at a higher color temperature of light. B. Moving the Temperature slider to the left corrects a photo taken at a lower color temperature of light. C. Photo after the color temperature has been adjusted. 

Tint

Fine-tunes the white balance to compensate for a green or magenta tint. Move the slider to the left (negative values) to add green to the photo; move it to the right (positive values) to add magenta.

Tip: To adjust the white balance quickly, select the White Balance tool, and then click an area in the preview image that should be a neutral gray or white. The Temperature and Tint sliders automatically adjust to make the selected color exactly neutral (if possible). If you’re clicking whites, choose a highlight area that contains significant white detail rather than a specular highlight.

Using White balance
Using White Balance to click a neutral white area, and resulting correction

Tonal and image adjustments in camera raw files

Exposure

Adjusts the brightness or darkness of an image. Move the slider to the left to darken the image; move it to the right to brighten the image. The values are in increments equivalent to f‑stops. An adjustment of +1.50 is similar to widening the aperture one and one-half stops. Likewise, an adjustment of ‑1.50 is similar to reducing the aperture one and one-half stops.

Tip: Hold down Alt (Option key in Mac) while moving the Exposure slider to preview where the highlights are clipped. (Clipping is the shifting of pixel values to either the highest highlight value or the lowest shadow value. Clipped areas are either completely white or completely black and have no image detail.) Move the slider until the highlights (not specular highlights) are completely clipped, and then reverse the adjustment slightly. Black indicates unclipped areas, and color indicates areas clipped in only one or two channels.

Exposure slider
Hold down Alt (Option key in Mac) while moving the Exposure slider to show clipped highlights.

Contrast

Adjusts the midtones in an image. Higher values increase the midtone contrast, and lower values produce an image with less contrast. Generally, use the Contrast slider to adjust the contrast of the midtones after setting the Exposure, Shadow, and Brightness values.

Recovery

Attempts to recover details from highlights. Camera Raw can reconstruct some details from areas in which one or two color channels are clipped to white.

Highlights

Recovers detail in overexposed highlight areas of an image.

Shadows

Recovers detail in underexposed shadow areas of an image.

Whites

Adjusts the highlights in an image.

Blacks

Adjusts the shadows and underexposed areas in an image.

Clarity

Sharpens the clarity of edges in the image. This process helps restore detail and sharpness that tonal adjustments may reduce.

Vibrance

Adjusts the saturation so that clipping is minimized as colors approach full saturation, changing the saturation of all lower-saturated colors with less impact on the higher-saturated colors. Vibrance also prevents skin tones from becoming oversaturated.

Saturation

Adjusts the color saturation of the image from –100 (pure monochrome) to +100 (double the saturation).

Fill Light

Attempts to recover details from shadows, without brightening blacks. Camera Raw can reconstruct some details from areas in which one or two color channels are clipped to black. Using Fill Light is similar to using the shadows portion of the Photoshop Shadow/Highlight filter or the After Effects Shadow/Highlight effect.

Blacks

Specifies which input levels are mapped to black in the final image. Increasing Blacks expands the areas that are mapped to black. This sometimes creates the appearance of increased contrast in the image. The greatest change is in the shadows, with less change in the midtones and highlights. Using the Blacks slider is similar to using the black point slider for input levels when using the Photoshop Levels command or the After Effects Levels effect.

Brightness

Adjusts the brightness of the image, much as the Exposure slider does. Brightness compresses the highlights and expands the shadows when you move the slider to the right. Brightness does not clip image highlights (areas that are completely white, with no detail) or shadows (areas that are completely black, with no detail). In general, use the Brightness slider to adjust the overall brightness after you set the white and black clipping points with the Exposure and Shadow sliders.

Sharpening

Sharpening enhances the definition of edges in an image. Additional controls are available in the Detail panel. To view the effects of these controls, set the zoom level to 100% or greater.

  • Amount: Adjusts edge definition. Increase the Amount value to increase sharpening. A value of zero turns off sharpening. In general, set Amount to a lower value for cleaner images. The adjustment locates pixels that differ from surrounding pixels based on the threshold you specify and increases the pixels’ contrast by the amount you specify.

  • Radius: Adjusts the size of the details that sharpening is applied to. Photos with fine details may need a lower radius setting. Photos with larger details may be able to use a larger radius. Using too large a radius generally results in unnatural results.

  • Detail: Adjusts how much high-frequency information is sharpened in the image and how much the sharpening process emphasizes edges. Lower settings primarily sharpen edges to remove blur. Higher values are useful for making the textures in the image more pronounced.

  • Masking: Controls an edge mask. At a setting of zero, everything in the image receives the same amount of sharpening. At a setting of 100, sharpening is mostly restricted to areas near the strongest edges.

Noise Reduction

Adjusts the color saturation of the image from –100 (pure monochrome) to +100 (double the saturation).

  • Luminance: Adjusts grayscale noise.
  • Luminance Detail: Controls the luminance noise threshold. Useful for noisy photos. Higher values preserve more detail but can produce noisier results. Lower values produce cleaner results but also remove some detail.
  • Luminance Contrast: Controls the luminance contrast. Useful for noisy photos. Higher values preserve contrast but can produce noisy blotches or mottling. Lower values produce smoother results but can also have less contrast.
  • Color: Adjusts chroma noise.
  • Color Detail: Controls the color noise threshold. Higher values protect thin, detailed color edges but can result in color specking. Lower values remove color speckles but can result in color bleeding.

Camera Profile

Chooses the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) profile. For each camera model it supports, Camera Raw uses profiles to process raw images. To choose from the various camera profiles present in Camera Calibration tab, choose either ACR 4.4, ACR 2.4, or Adobe Standard. The higher version number represents the newer and improved camera profile for some cameras. You may want to choose the lower version number for consistent behavior with legacy images.

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