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Chapter 8.  Elements for Digital Photographers

Chapter 8.  Elements for Digital Photographers

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8.1.TheRAWConverter

ProbablythemostpopularthingAdobehasdonefor

photographybuffsinthisversionisincludingthecelebrated

AdobeCameraRAWConverter.Formanypeople,thisfeature

aloneiswellworththepriceoftheprogram,sinceyoujustcan't

beattheconvenienceofbeingabletoperformconversionsin

thesameprogramyouuseforediting.

Ifyoudon'tknowwhatRAWis,it'sjustafileformat.Butavery

specialone.Yourdigitalcameraactuallycontainsalittle

computerthatdoesacertainamountofprocessingtoyour

photosrightinsidethecameraitself.IfyoushootinJPEG

format,forinstance,yourcamerahasalreadymadesome

decisionsaboutthingslikesharpness,colorsaturation,and

contrastbeforeitsavestheJPEGfilestoyourmemorycard.

IfyourcameraletsyoushootRAWfilesontheotherhand,you

getthemostlyunprocesseddatastraightfromthecamera.

ShootinginRAWletsyoumakeyourowndecisionsabouthow

yourphotoshouldlook,toamuchgreaterdegreethanyoucan

withanyotherformat.It'ssomethinglikegettinganegative

fromyourdigitalcamerawhatyoudotoitinyourdigital

darkroomisuptoyou.

That'sthebigadvantageofRAWtotalcontrol.Thedownsideis

thateverycameramanufacturerhasitsownproprietaryRAW

format,andtheformatmayevenvarybetweenmodelsfrom

thesamemanufacturer.Noregulargraphicsprogramcanedit

thesefiles,andveryfewprogramscanevenviewthem.

Instead,youneedspecialsoftwaretoconvertyourRAWfilesto

aformatthatyoucanworkwith.Inthepast,thatusually

meantyouneededtousesoftwarefromthemanufacturer

beforeyoucouldmoveyourphotointoaneditingprogramlike

Elements.



EnterAdobeCameraRAW,whichnowletsyouconvertyourfiles

rightinElements.Notonlythat,buttheAdobeCameraRAW

plug-inthatcomeswithElementsletsyoumakevery

sophisticatedcorrectionstoyourphotosbeforeyouevenopen

them.Manytimes,youcandoeverythingyouneedrightinthe

converter,sothatyou'redoneassoonasyouopenyour

convertedfile.(Youcan,ofcourse,stilluseanyofElements

regulartoolsonceyou'veopenedaRAWfile.)UsingAdobe

CameraRAWsavesyouatonoftime,andit'scompatiblewith

mostcameras'RAWfiles.



Note:AdobehasupdatedtheRAWplug-insinceElements3

wasreleased.Youcandownloadthelatestversionbygoingto

www.adobe.com/support/downloadsandscrollingdowntothe

sectionforPhotoshopCS.(ElementsandPhotoshopusethe

sameplug-in,butyoudon'tseeallthefeaturesinElements).

Asidefromsupportfornewercameras,thenewplug-inalso

givesyoutheabilitytouseAdobe'snewDigitalNegative(.dng)

format,anattempttocreateasingle,universallong-term

storageformatforallkindsofRAWfiles.Adoberegularly

updatestheRAWconvertertoincludenewcameras,soifyour

camera'sRAWfilesdon'topen,checkforanewerversionof

theplug-in.



8.1.1.UsingtheRAWConverter

Foralltheoptionsitgivesyou,theRAWConverterisveryeasy

touse.Adobehasdesigneditsothatitautomaticallycalculates

andapplieswhatitthinksarethecorrectsettingsforexposure,

shadows,brightness,andcontrast.Youcanacceptthe

Converter'sdecisionsoroverridethemanddoeverything

yourselfit'syourcall.



Togetstarted,youmustfirstopenyourimages.Youcankeep

trackofRAWfilesintheOrganizer(page30),buttheOrganizer

doesn'topenthem.YouhavetobeintheEditortoactually

convertthefiles.BoththeOrganizerandtheEditor'sFile

BrowsercandisplaythumbnailsofyourRAWfilesbeforeyou

openthemsothatyoucanchoosethephotoyouwant.

FREQUENTLYASKEDQUESTION

ToShootintheRAWorNot

ShouldIshootmypicturesintheRAWformat?

Itdepends.ThereareprosandconstousingtheRAWformat.Itmightsurprise

youtolearnthatsomeprofessionalphotographerschoosenottouseRAW.For

example,notmanyjournalistsuseRAW,andit'snotcommonwithsports

photographers,either.Here'saquicklookattheadvantagesanddisadvantages

tohelpyoudecideifyouwanttogetinvolvedwithRAW.

Ontheplusside,youget:

Morecontrol.WithRAWyouhavealotofextrachancestotweakyour

photos,andyougettocalltheshots,insteadofyourcamera.

Morefixes.Ifyou'renotaperfectphotographer,RAWismoreforgivingyou

canfixalotofmistakesinRAW,althoughevenRAWwon'tmakeabad

photointoagreatphoto.

Noneedtofusswithyourwhitebalanceallthetimewhileshooting.

Althoughyou'llstillgetbetterinputifyourcamera'swhitebalancesettings

arecorrect.

ButRAWalsohassomesignificantdrawbacks.Foronething,youcan'tjustopen

upafileandstartusingthephotothewayyoudowithaJPEGfile.You'vealways

gottoconvertitfirst,whetheryouusetheElementsConverteroronesupplied

bythemanufacturer.Otherdisadvantagesinclude:

Largerfilesize.RAWfilesaresmallerthanTIFFs,butthey'reusuallymuch

biggerthanthehighest-qualityJPEGs.Consequently,you'llneedmore

memorycardsifyouregularlyshootRAW.

Speed.ItgenerallytakesyourcameralongertosaveRAWfilesthanJPEGsa

significantconsiderationforactionshots.Newercamerashaveabufferthat

holdsafewshotsandletsyoukeepshootingwhilethecameraisworking,

butyou'llhitthewallprettyquicklyifyou'reusingburst(rapid-advance)

mode.Thenyoujusthavetowait.

Worsein-camerapreview.Formanycameras,youhavesomepretty



significantlimitationsfordigitallyzoomingtheviewintheviewfinderwhen

usingRAW.

YoumightwanttotryafewshotsofthesamesubjectinbothRAWandJPEGto

seewhetheryounoticeadifferenceinyourfinalresults.Generallyspeaking,RAW

offersthemostleewayifyouwanttomakesignificantedits,butyouneedto

understandwhatyou'redoing.JPEGiseasierifyou'reabeginner.

It'sreallyyourcall.Thereareexcellentphotographerswhowouldn'tthinkof

shootinginanythingbutRAW,andexcellentphotographerswhothinkit'stoo

time-consuming.



Youcanstartconvertingyourfileintwoplaces:

IntheOrganizer,highlightthefileandclickEdit

StandardEditor(orpressCtrl+I).

IntheEditor,usetheFileBrowsertolocatethefileyou

wantanddouble-clickthethumbnailofthephotoyouwant.

ThatbringsuptheConverter.



Tip:YoumaynotbeabletoopenyourRAWfilesbydoubleclickingthemoutsideofElements(fromtheWindowsdesktop

ortheMacFinder).You'llprobablygetamessagetotheeffect

thatyourcomputerhasnoideawhatprogramtousetoopen

thatfile.YoucanmakesurethatElementsistheprogramthat's

alwaysusedtoopenyourRAWfilesbyfollowingthesteps

describedonpage26.

OneimportantpointaboutRAWfiles:Elementsnever

overwritesyouroriginalfiles.Asamatteroffact,Elementscan't

inanywaymodifytheoriginalRAWfile.Thismeansthatyour

originalisalwaysthereforyouifyouwanttotryconverting

yourphotoagainlateronusingdifferentsettings.It's



somethinglikehavinganegativethatyoucanalwaysgetmore

printsfrom.



Note:TheOrganizercanstoreyourRAWfileswithno

problems,butthePhotoDownloadertendstobeveryslow

aboutimportingthemandhasbeenknowntochokewhen

workingwithRAWfiles.Youmaywellfindyouprefertogetyour

RAWphotosintoyourcomputerusingoneoftheothermethods

discussedinChapter2.



8.1.1.1Adjustingtheview

WhentheRAWConverteropens,youshouldseesomethinglike

Figure8-1.Beforeyoudecidewhethertoaccepttheauto

settingsthatElementsoffersortoperformfurthertweaking,

youneedtogetagoodcloselookatyourimage.TheConverter

makesiteasytodothisbygivingyoualargepreviewofyour

imageandahandfuloftoolstohelpadjustwhatyou'relooking

at.



Figure

8-1.The

Elements

RAW

Converter

packsa

numberof

powerful

toolsinto

one

window.

Besides

thelarge

preview

window,

youhavea



small

Toolbox

containing

someold

friendsand

a

specialized

toolfor

adjusting

yourwhite

balance

(explained

later),as

wellasthe

panelon

theright

whereyou

tweakyour

settings.

Thereare

moreways

toadjust

theview,

including

arrowsfor

rotating

yourphoto,

belowthe

preview

area.



HandandZoomtools.TheseareintheToolboxatthe

upper-leftcorneroftheConverterwindow.Youusethem

hereexactlythesamewayyouwouldanywhereelsein

Elements.Thekeyboardshortcutsforadjustingtheview

(page63)alsoworkintheRAWConverter.



Rotationarrows.Ifyouneedtorotateyourphoto,click

oneofthearrowsbelowthelower-rightcornerofthe

previewwindow.

Viewpercentage.Yougetapop-upmenuwithpreset

sizesbelowthelower-leftcornerofthepreviewwindow.

Justchoosethesizeyouwant.

Onceyou'vegottenagoodcloselookatyourphoto,youneed

todecide:didElementsdoagoodenoughjobofchoosingthe

settingsforyou?Ifso,you'redone,unlessyouwanttosharpen

yourphotohere(explainedlater).Ifyouprefertomake

adjustmentstoyourphotointheConverter,readon.



8.1.1.2TheRAWConverter'sSettingsmenu

ThelongstripdowntherightsideoftheRAWConvertergives

youmanywaystotweakandcorrectthecolor,exposure,

sharpness,brightness,andnoiselevelofyourphoto.Whenyou

firstopenafileintheConverter,Elementsmakesitsbestguess

forthesettingsitthinksyourphotoneeds.

That'safeatureyou'lleitherloveorhate.Thegoodnewsisthat

youdon'thavetolivewiththedecisionsElementsmakesfor

you.Ifallthisautostuffdrivesyoucrazy,youcanturnitoff

completely.You'lllearnhowinaminute.

Ifyoulookattheupper-rightcorneroftheConverter,youseea

Histogramatthetopofthewindow.Thishelpsyoukeeptrack

ofhowyourchangesareaffectingthecolorsinyourphoto.

(Chapter7containsmoreinformationaboutreadingHistograms

onpage165.)

JustbelowtheHistogramisapull-downmenuthatsays

"CameraDefault."Italsooffersyouacoupleofotheroptions.



WhateverischoseninthismenudetermineshowElements

convertsyourphoto.Here'salookatwhatthechoicesmean:

CameraDefault.Elementscontainsaprofileofnormal

RAWsettingsforyourcameramodelthatitusesasits

baselinefortheadjustmentsitmakes.That'syourCamera

Default.

SelectedImage.Choosethisafteryou'vemadechanges

intheConvertertoreverttothesettingsyouhadwhenyou

firstopenedthisphoto.

PreviousConversion.Ifyou'vealreadyprocessedaphoto

andwanttoapplythesamesettingstothisone,choosing

thissettingappliesthesettingsfromthelastRAWimage

youopened(butonlyifit'sfromthesamecamera).

Custom.Onceyoustartchangingsettings,youseethis

insteadofoneoftheotherchoices.

Sinceindividualcamerasofthesamemodelmayvary,the

defaultsettingsmaynotbethebestonesforyourcamera.You

canoverridethedefaultsettingsandcreateanewsetofdefault

settingsforanycamera.Youalsouseprettythemuchsame

procedureifyoujustwanttogetElementsoutofAutomode.In

eithercase,youneedtocreateyourowndefaultsettings.This

isveryeasytodo,usingthepop-outmenushowninFigure82.



Figure8-2.Ifyou

don'tliketheway

Elementsconvertsyour

photos,youcanturnoff

theAutobuttonsor

makeanyother



changestoyour

settings.Thenclickthe

arrowinsidetheblue

circleandselect"Set

CameraDefault."From

nowonwhenyouopen

aphoto,you'llseethe

settingsyou'vechosen.



ToturnofftheAutosettings:Ifyoujustwanttoput

Elementsinmanualmode,turnoffallfourcheckboxes,

thenclickthearrowandchoose"SetCameraDefault."

You'restillusingthesamebasicsettings,butElements

won'tdotheAutothinganymore.

Tochangeyourcamera'ssettings:Ifyouknowthatyou

alwayswantadifferentsettingforoneofthesliderslike

maybeyourShadowssettingat13insteadofthefactory

settingof9moveallthesliders(notjusttheoneswithAuto

boxes)towhereyouwantthemandchoose"SetCamera

Default."Fromnowon,Elementsopensyourphotoswith

thesesettingsasyourstartingpoint.

ToreverttotheoriginalElementssettingsforyour

camera:Ifyouwanttogobacktothewaythingswere

originally,clickthearrowandchoose"ResetCamera

Default."ThisalsoturnstheAutosettingsbackon.

IfyouhavealotofRAWfilestoprocess,Elementsalsogives

youafewwaystospeedupapplyingyoursettings.



IntheRAWConverter,Alt+click(Option-click)theOkay

buttontoapplythecurrentsettingswithoutactually

openingthefile.

IntheEditor'sFileBrowser,ifyoudouble-clickaRAW

photo'sthumbnail,you'llgettheConverter.Butifyou

highlightthethumbnailandpressEnter(Return),thephoto

openswithitscurrentRAWsettingsappliedtoit,skipping

theConverterwindow.

IntheFileBrowser,highlightthefilesyouwanttochange.

GotoFile ApplyCameraRAWSettings(Automate

ApplyCameraRAWSettings).Yougetadialogboxwhere

youcanchooseSelectedImage,CameraDefault,or

PreviousConversion,allofwhichweredescribedearlier.



8.1.2.WhiteBalance

Ifyoudecidetoadjustyourphotosyourself,thefirstcontrol

you'llseelistedisforwhitebalance.Adjustingwhitebalanceis

oftenthemostimportantchangewhenitcomestomakingyour

photoslooktheirbest.

TheWhiteBalancecontroladjustsallthecolorsinyourphoto

bycreatinganeutralwhitetone.Ifthatsoundsalittlestrange,

stopandthinkaboutitforaminute.Thecoloryouthinkofas

whiteactuallychangesdependingonthecurrentlighting

conditions.Inthelateafternoon,whiteismuchwarmer

becauseofthesun'slowrays,whileatnoon,there'snowarmth

(noorange/yellowcolor)tothelightatall.Inthesameway,

tungstenlightingismuchwarmerthanfluorescentlighting,

whichmakeswhitesratherbluish.

Mostdigitalcamerashaveawhitebalancesettingonthem,

althoughyoumayhavetotakeyourcameraoutofAutoor



Programmodetoseeit.Yourcamerawhitebalancechoicesare

usuallysomethinglikeAuto,Daylight,Cloudy,Tungsten,

Fluorescent,andCustom.WhenyoushootJPEGs,gettingthe

correctsettingherereallymatters,becauseit'stoughto

readjustwhitebalance,eveninaprogramlikeElements.With

RAW,youcanaffordtobealittlesloppieraboutsettingyour

whitebalance,becauseyoucaneasilytweakitintheRAW

Converter.

Gettingthewhitebalancerightcanmakeaverybigdifference

inhowyourphotolooks,asyoucanseeinFigure8-3.

Elementsgivesyouseveralwaystoadjustthewhitebalancein

yourimage:

Pull-downmenu.ThemenujustbelowtheHistogram

startsoutbydisplaying"AsShot,"whichmeansElementsis

showingyouyourcamera'ssettings.Youcanusethemenu

tochangeit,choosingfromAuto,Daylight,Cloudy,and

otheroptions.FromDaylightdownthroughtheother

choicesonthelist,eachsettingisslightlywarmerthanthe

oneaboveit.It'sworthgivingAutoatry,sinceitgetsit

rightasurprisingpercentofthetimeformanycameras.

Temperature.Youcanusethisslidertomakeyourphoto

warmer(moreorange)orcooler(moreblue).Movingthe

slidertotheleftcoolsyourphoto,whilemovingittothe

rightwarmsit.Youcanalsotypeatemperatureinthebox

indegreesKelvin(theofficialmeasurementforcolor

temperature)ifyou'reexperiencedindoingthisbythe

numbers.You'dusetheTemperaturesliderandtheTint

sliderinconjunctionforaperfectwhitebalance.

Tint.Thisadjuststhegreen/magentabalanceofyour

photo,prettymuchthewayitdoesintheQuickFix.Moveit

tothelefttoincreasethegreeninyourphotoandtothe



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