Photoshop CS3 and ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) Guide

Photoshop CS3 and ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) Guide

Photoshop is a very powerful program! If you’re in the market to purchase photoshop, some things to consider when purchasing the version that will suit you are…

Photoshop Elements 4.0 or CS3 — if 
Elements 4.0 or CS3 — if you’re doing simple photo editing or graphic design work PSE4 will be enough program for you that you won’t feel like you’ve outgrown it anytime soon. If you’re planning on processing batches of photos at a time spend the extra money and go for CS3.

Photoshop Elements 6.0 is the most current version for PC, this will be perfect for you if you are doing simple photo editing or graphic design work. If you’re planning on processing batches of photos at a time spend the extra money and go for CS3.

Educational discounts are available for both versions if you look.

To the meat of the program.

Editing a JPEG or TIFF
Open up CS3 and when it’s fully loaded go to File>open and navigate to your photo on your hard drive and click open. When your photo comes up on the screen the first thing I do is adjust the Curves. Hold down your control (option on the MAC) M button and curves will come up. I like a slight S curve to my photos. Pull the curve up on the right-hand side and down a bit on the left. Make sure the preview button is clicked so you can watch the effects you are having on your photo. A little goes a long way, be gentle.

Next, I work with Levels. Contro (option on the MAC) L and Levels will come up. Make sure you click the preview button. Depending on your photo you will use this differently each time. I usually have to take the middle slider and push it to the right a bit but really this adjustment will all depend on the photo you have but 90% of the time I use Levels on my photos.

Now, you need to look at your photo, do you have any color casts? If so, now would be when I go to Image>adjustment>match color. Make sure you click the preview button. Now click the neutralize button and slide the FADE slider back until it looks better. I find 66 is the magic number usually but it will depend on your photo. On this menu, I also adjust the luminance slider to the right a tad.

Now, basic edits to my photo are done. Stay tuned to future articles by me on various tips and tricks for using CS3 and preparing your photos for print.

Melissa Roth Cherniske

Editing a RAW photo file
Open up CS3 and when it’s fully loaded go to File>open and navigate to your photo on your hard drive and click open. If you have more than one photo to edit (a batch) you can open them all up now. A number of files you are able to open will depend on your computer’s memory/RAM setup.

RAW files will trigger CS3 to open up a plugin called ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) if you get an error message at this point you may need to reinstall the latest version of ACR on your computer. This is NOT hard. Go to Adobe’s website and type ACR in the search and it will come up to the page that you need to download. The directions for this really are clear from Adobe…trust me.

OK, so if it worked and the files have opened in ACR you need to do a couple things the first time you edit to set some defaults. In the bottom center of your screen, it’s going to say something about RGB(1998) click that and switch it to SRGB. Unless you know about color modes you should work in SRGB. No matter what color mode your camera is set to, RAW files come in unassigned to an ICC profile, you need to assign it. SRGB is an industry standard for web viewing and also commercial photo printing. This may change in the future but for now, I use SRGB but you may want to check with your printer to see what “color mode” they print in. If they say they “CAN” print in any color mode verify that they aren’t converting your images to their ICC profiles, you want to control this yourself or else you’ll have pictures that won’t match your screen. 90% of the web browsers can only see SRGB colors so if people are using IE or one of the other browsers that aren’t color managed, they will be seeing your photo as SRGB even if you embed a different color mode.

SO…. my conclusion on this is to change the color mode here to avoid any problems in the long run. This setting only needs to be made once and then it will be the default.

OK, now to begin your RAW editing. If your editing one photo, select the photo on the left and click on the white balance dropper. You can click this dropper on a black portion of the photo, a white portion of the photo, or an 18% gray portion of the photo and it will adjust the White balance and temperature of the photo. Alternatively, you can look on the right-hand side of your screen and tell ACR to use the AUTO WB, AS SHOT, or one of the preset WB settings. If your editing multiple photos click on select all on the upper left-hand corner OR if you want to select just a couple from a large batch just hold your shift key down and select a couple and you can do this as many times as needed until you’ve gone through your entire batch. A nice thing that ACR has when doing batches is a +++++ rating system. You can rate your photos to mark which you like and dislike so if you are running a large batch and see pictures you just don’t want to take the next part of processing, mark them and you can ignore them in the future. This ++++ thing is below the thumbnail on each photo on the left-hand side of your screen.

On the top right of the screen above the histogram are to buttons that I push. One gives you indicators when your blacks are clipped, shadows are too extreme. The other gives you indicators when your highlights are clipped/blown. These indicators are both VERY useful and I leave them on all the time. Again this is a setting that you only have to do once and then it is set as your default next time you open up CS3.

Next thing I adjust here is exposure. I use the AUTO button here to get a baseline for where to start my editing on this next set of controls. If the WB is set correctly this AUTO seems to work fairly well for my style. I usually need to adjust very little. Exposure, brightness, fill, recovery, clarity in that order.

Exposure, Brightness, and fill really are self-explanatory. Sliding them gives you a really good idea of how they should be used and how far a little shift left or right changes things is important to note. The more you use exposure, the more grain you are introducing into your photo. When shooting in RAW I tend to overexpose ever so slightly since I find it is easier to SAVE a photo then if you were to severely underexpose or overexpose. Spot on exposure is ALWAYS ideal.

Recovery, this is a great tool. If you have blown highlights (indicated with the RED warnings) slide this to the right and you’ll gradually be able to bring some of the details back.

Clarity, I always set this at 5. I really like how that brig back a bit of shine back to the photo (removes a little haze) without any real loss of data.

At this point I don’t use any other controls in ACR, if I’m editing one photo I click OPEN here if I’m editing a batch, I click Select all in the upper left-hand corner and OPEN ALL.

Now the photos will all open in CS3. At this point, go up to my directions above on Editing a JPEG or TIFF and continue with my editing directions.

Stay tuned for future articles from me on Actions, Scripts, Batches and other tips and tricks of CS3.