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Foundations of Adobe Photoshop CC

Lesson 10 of 36

Use Camera Raw With Photoshop

Dave Cross

Foundations of Adobe Photoshop CC

Dave Cross

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Lesson Info

10. Use Camera Raw With Photoshop

Lesson Info

Use Camera Raw With Photoshop

The other factor that comes into play here is this thing called RAW. On cameras, most cameras today and some phones actually now, have the ability to capture this file format called RAW. And it's a wonderful thing because it gives you, if you open it, I talk with my hands anyway but I'm gonna do it even more now. If you open a JPEG file, you've got this much information. So if you try to edit it and say I want to, maybe it's too dark and I try to make it much lighter, at a certain point, you're pushing the limits of it. So it starts to look bad 'cause it just can't really handle that much adjustment. When you take a camera RAW file, it's this much information. So now you can say wow, that was way too dark, I can push it really far, I can do all these things because this format called RAW preserves much more information. What throws people off about RAW and it's just the reality of cameras, is you take your nice DLSR and you do your settings, you take a photo, after you look at the back...

of the camera and go that is perfect. I love the way the sky looks. Fantastic. You open the RAW file, it looks dull and nowhere close to what you saw on the back of your camera. What you're seeing on the back of the camera is a JPEG preview that the camera manufacturer says, well, of course we want our camera to look really good so we're gonna add a few little things here. So you're like how fantastic and you open the RAW file and go, it doesn't look the same. It's because it strips all of that out but that's the point of it is now you can adjust it however you want with all this latitude to make huge changes to it. And as an added bonus, by nature RAW editing is nondestructive, there isn't even a choice. So I shoot RAW almost exclusively unless there's some compelling reason like I used to take photos at my son's soccer games and after the first game realized RAW is not a good format for shooting lots of photographs of a sporting event, 'cause it was just like not happening. And even then, part of it was the net result of those photographs was to appear on a website this big. So to take these enormous, big RAW files for something that's gonna be this big didn't make sense. But any time that I'm on a trip somewhere, that I'm unlikely to go back to or I'm taking portraits of someone or anything where I think there's even a remote chance that I want much more opportunity to edit, I'm gonna use RAW as my capture format. Now, some photographers say well, if you really know how to take photos and have the great settings with your camera, you can shoot in JPEG. That's fair enough. But I just like the opportunity, I mean, often there are times I open the RAW files and go I don't need to edit anything, it looks okay. But let's talk about this a little bit. Here is a RAW file. I use a Nikon camera so my file format says NEF for the Nikon RAW format. Depending on your camera, it'll say something else. I'm still in Bridge, I'm still using Bridge as my opening mechanism. But the difference is instead of going right to Photoshop, it's not a JPEG yet or it's not a TIFF yet, it's this file called RAW. I need to do something to convert it from this RAW format into a format that I can use in Photoshop. So in here, when I double-click to open it, it actually launches a separate program. So it looks like its going into Photoshop, 'cause it kind of does but it then interrupts Photoshop and says here's this thing called Camera Raw. Now, we'll talk about Lightroom in a second, it's separate. But here's what I would say about this. Let me don't look while I do this. Okay, so this is actually how the photograph was taken. So, it came in looking like that. So, I'm gonna suggest to you that when it comes to overall, global adjusting, you wanna do as much of it as you possibly can in Raw. Either Camera Raw or Lightroom. Because here's the difference, when I was in Photoshop before and I show you that menu of adjustments, it said like levels, curves, what the heck is that? Where here, look it says exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows with little sliders and the slider, oh, look, if I moved to the right, it looks lighter. I bump to the left, it looks darker. That's pretty intuitive. So, to do what I just did here in Photoshop, I would've gone, well, I guess I'll use levels and then I'll maybe click on this triangle and it's easier to use Raw. So when it comes to global work and by global, I mean the entire photograph, I want the whole photograph to be lighter, darker, more vibrant, whatever, use Raw. Whether it's Camera Raw or Lightroom, the engine is the same, the sliders are the same, that part's no different. But the other nice advantage of this is that by default and you kinda saw it before when I first opened it, I hadn't edit this in a while, but it still remembered that I had previously changed the settings but I just put it back to square one, just with one quick command. So unlike Photoshop, where you have to deliberately be nondestructive, Raw is by nature, in fact, there is no option to like unintentionally save over the top of the file, 'cause you can't. That's just the way it works. So, I always tell brand new people in Photoshop before we start talking too much about adjustment layers and all this Photoshop stuff, use this. It's so much easier 'cause it's just you look at it and if you're not sure what I wanna adjust, they're just slides. Well, what if I adjust the shadows and I lighten the shadows, that does that. What if I take the whites and do this or maybe this way. Oh, okay. So, you've seeing an exact preview of what you're gonna get and once you're finished, then you hit open and it brings whatever you've done and opens it into Photoshop. So let's pretend for a moment that I'm finished. I hit Open Image, now it comes into Photoshop as if I brought in as like a JPEG but I did all that initial processing in Raw. The way I did it for now means there's no relationship between this image and the Raw one, other than they look the same. Meaning the Raw file is still as I left it with all those sliders available to edit but now I've open this version of it. So it's almost like if you think of it as, in the good old days, we'd have a negative and make a print, the negative never changed but the print could, depending on what you did to it. This is the same thing. So that the digital RAW file is our negative, in that sense and this is a version of it. So, now I can do all sorts of Photoshop things to it. Which would suggest I'd have to then save this as a PSD file, as my master file, right? Then once I'm happy, I save a JPEG. So let's think about this for a second. And for this particular photograph, if I did that, I would have the JPEG to deliver to my client or whatever the delivery is, I'd have the PSD file with all my Photoshop editing and the original RAW file that still can be edited completely. So I've given myself even more of a backup plan. So, as an example, sometimes people open a photograph and say, I think this might make a nice black and white photo. Well, if I just convert to black and white, hit save, it's now black and white, period. The color is gone. In Camera Raw, I can click one checkbox and say make it grayscale but it's just a checkbox. If I come back a month later and go never mind, I just uncheck it and now the color's back. So there's so much more control and flexibility which is why I tell people all the time if you wanna give yourself the easiest way to work in Photoshop, don't work in Photoshop. (laughs) At least to begin with. Start off in Raw and you may find that there's not even the reason to go into Photoshop 'cause you do some editing in Raw and go, well, it's great, I'm done, I didn't do anything. The main reason why there's both is raw editing like Camera Raw and Lightroom do a great job globally but not a good as Photoshop selectively. Meaning, if I open this photograph and say but I want that red building, only the building to be more vibrant, that's a job for Photoshop. 'Cause it's much harder in Camera or Lightroom to do selective work very accurately then it is in Photoshop. So that's why we have both. There are many people that take 200 photographs and for 190 of them, they only work in Raw and go, looks great. But then for the other 10, they're like, on this one, I need to clone that out or edit that or do that little selective bit of work in that corner. As soon as you say, that area, that bit, that piece, that means go to Photoshop to do it. So they are tied together in that sense. I started in Raw, I made adjustments, I said open and it opened this version of it but just to show you, if I go back to Bridge and double-click this and make a dramatic change and hit Done, see nothing has happened because that's the version of it that I opened. Now my original RAW file is temporarily edited but it's just temporary and it'll stay that way until I change it again. That's the nondestructive nature of working with RAW files is you have so much latitude to do anything that you want because by nature, it's not permanent. So, to kinda summarize that, in Photoshop you have to make an effort to be nondestructive. In Raw editing, it happens automatically. You'd have to actually work really hard to not make it that way. So that's one of the great benefits of it. So, what I'm gonna do is I think at this point, we're just for time purpose, we'll probably start to wrap up here and then after lunch, we'll start off so I can just into Lightroom a little bit, just to show you how it works in a similar but slightly different way. When you talk about RAW files, are you talking about that it has all the pixels, you know, this is all about changing pixels and everything. Right. So, in other words, when you're taking a picture in RAW file, it's bigger because it has more pixels. Well, it's bigger, I mean right out of the camera, a RAW file or a JPEG have the same megapixels, it's just within those pixels, it's almost like there's more depth of ability, more flexibility to change it. So, the file size coming out of the camera, it's bigger but not a huge amount bigger, it's just it's the nature of that RAW, it means it's much more editable to begin with. There's no kind of constraints to say, like the JPEGs have already had some settings applied in the camera, so it just means you have less room to continue to edit it. You still can but not as much as a RAW file. Yeah, my second question is we have Lightroom and we have Raw. Right. So what would be the advantage of working in Lightroom versus Raw file. You said like many people will just work on RAW files. Sure, so the difference is Raw is what you saw there, it's strictly I opened this photograph and I can adjust it. That's basically it's goal in life is to adjust a photograph. Lightroom is also an organizer, a library, so you can say I'm gonna classify my photographs, put them in folders, so many people use it because it not only edits the RAW file but let's you do more of an organizational, you know, putting things in certain folders and things of that nature whereas Raw, it's saying wherever you put that folder yourself, that's up to you. I'll just open it and let you to edit it. So, the reason many people like to use Lightroom only is 'cause in one place they've got their library of all their photographs, so they can keyword and search for, they can make global adjustments, they can export, they can do various things with it. The reason why I think we still need both is as soon as you enter into that item to make a change to this area, that's where you could do it in Lightroom, to me it's not as effective as doing it in Photoshop. So they're tied together Thank you very much. Marilyn asks once you're in Photoshop, can you put the picture back in Raw? Interesting question. Well and the best way to think of it is that whole negative versus print. So the RAW file is always your negative, that never changes. So, when you bring into Photoshop, you've made like a version or print of it that you can work with in Photoshop but that negative is still there. So, it's not like one or the other, they're kinda work in concert, where you're always gonna have the RAW file and you can choose to open it in Photoshop to continue to work on it. But the RAW file will always be there. What you can't do is RAW files only come when they're captured in that format. In other words, there's no options say, I wanna take this JPEG and make it a RAW file. That doesn't happen, so you can't go the other way. It has to start life being captured in RAW format from your capture device. Whether it's your phone or, and as an aside, by the way, 'cause some people are like what do you mean phone? There is a version of Lightroom called Lightroom Mobile, which recently, on certain cameras, can actually take a photograph in RAW from your phone, which is crazy. So, for those people like, I like to use my phone but I always get a JPEG, not anymore. It's very cool. That's awesome. What's the best way of doing sharpening? Is it best to do it first in Camera Raw, which is nondestructive and then later in Photoshop or how do you-- That's a short question that has a much longer answer, so I'll say that first of all, there's, in our family we use the term umpteen to say a unit of large measurement, there's umpteen different opinions as to how to sharpen. Generally what most people do is kinda divide it into something called capture sharpening, which means soon as you've taken the photograph, you apply a little bit of sharpening in Raw, whether it's Lightroom or Camera Raw and then bring it into Photoshop and see if it needs more sharpening. However, that's a really condensed version 'cause sharpening also depends on is it for screen, is it for print? You know, there's so much to it but generally speaking, in fact, by default whether you know it or not, camera on Lightroom both do a little bit of sharpening. Even if you didn't go in and touch that, it's always sharpening your photos because the nature of RAW files is they need a bit of sharpening just to begin with and then you can do further sharpening in Photoshop.

Class Description

Join Dave Cross in this beginner friendly class starting at the very basics with Adobe® Photoshop® CC. You’ll learn how to begin navigating the software and what the best practices and work habits are to approach different projects.

Dave will cover:

  • Working non destructively on your files
  • How to resize, crop, and straighten images
  • Using layers with basic layer examples
  • Adding text, color, and painting to images
  • How to retouch and adjust images using selections and masks
  • Learn how to use the tools you need to create the image you want. Dave will demonstrate using sample workflows that take you through projects from start to finish.

Don't have Adobe Photoshop yet? Get it now so you can follow along with the course!

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017



I really like Dave's methodical teaching style. Step by step works best for my learning processes. He also has a lovely voice to listen to during his classes, that is important if you have to listen to someone talk for any length of time. I also like the "dance" he does by explaining what he is going to do, then does it, and then comes back to explaining the choices he made and why. Very, very easy to follow him in his straight forward explanations. He increased my understanding of so many tools I use and so many I have never used. Wow! Photoshop with Dave took away a lot of "fear"! (Wish I had a "happy face" to place here!) I bought this class today because I don't think I can get along without it!


A writer and an old person (over 60), I rarely use neat exaggerations like "great" or "fantastic," and never say "awesome" in the currently fashionable manner. However, I would call this class both great and excellently planned. Cross is well-spoken and a consummate teacher with a rarely non-irritating voice. It is information packed, clearly presented, well-organized, and extremely helpful. I wish I could afford his others.

Jim Bellomo

I was so lucky to get to attend this class in person here in Seattle. I have been a fan of Dave's for years and own a number of his courses from Creative Live. When this class was announced I almost decided to skip it since it was listed as a "beginners" class but decided that it "might" be worth it. One of the reasons I wanted to take it was that I am self-taught. I had started with Photoshop 5 (not CS5 but 5) about 15 years ago (at least). I figured it I took this class I might learn a little something that would help me in my work. Well, two days later I have 18 pages of handwritten notes, a whole new way to work and it has already paid off in a huge way in my daily workflow. I bill out my hours at around $100 an hour as a graphic designer and marketing person. That means in the two days that I spent 10 hours a day taking the class and commuting to it, it cost me about $2000 in working time. But it didn't. I can guarantee that I am way ahead on this one. I l learned so much. The real world things I learned will pay off for a very long time. Within one day after the class I had already started changing my workflow to be more non-destructive and faster. Dave is an awesome teacher and I can't say enough good things about this class. Even if you think you know Photoshop, you don't. I teach it in my small world but I learned so much.