OK, first off I must stress that this is my top 7 tips to rescue your RAW shots. It may not match what others say, but I find these are the ones that I use the most and that they work for me. When you take images in JPEG the images are saved as is, any problems relating to tone, colour and composition are more or less set in stone. The post processing advantages of the RAW format mean that you can fix these problems without compromising the quality of the final shot.
This article is using the Adobe Camera Raw editor for the processing.
So lets get started.
- Reveal detail and remove noise
Raw shots can sometimes suffer from underexposed shadows, meaning that when you print them out the shadows print black. By draging the Fill Light slider to about 45 you can restore shadow details without blowing out the highlight details. This can reveal colour noise, so its best to click the Detail tab and drag the Noise Reduction Colour slider to around 50, then boost the Saturation to about +15 to remove it.
- Fix overexposed highlights
Overexposed shots suffer from flat highlights. To help identify and fix the problem, click the Highlight Clipping Warning icon and clipped highlights will appear as red patches in your shot. Drag the Recovery slider to around 80 to restore the missing highlight detail. You will probably need to tweak the Exposure to about -0.90 to refine the shot’s overall tone.
- Tweak tints and temperature
Some shots can suffer from a green or magenta tint, so use the Tint slider to correct these colour aberrations. You can also warm up shots by boosting the Temperature to about 5,800. This should remove unwanted lighting hues.
- Boost Colour
By boosting saturation you can create a more striking photo, but there is a danger that skin tones will look too orange. The Vibrance slider is designed to increase the shot’s colours but leave skin tones intact. Drag the Vibrance slider along to about +50 to boost the colours without leaving the subject like they’ve had one too many visits to the tanning salon.
- Sharper shooting
To sharpen a shot that isn’t quite in focus click on the Detail tab, zoom in to 100%, then drag the Amount slider up to about 65 and the Radius slider to 1.3. This will produce a crisper looking image that will give your prints that extra punch. Sharpening can add the dreaded halos and other artefacts to edges, so its best to sharpen the shot after you’ve finished editing the tone and colours.
- Correct colour casts
It’s easy to forget to adjust your White Balance setting to match the light conditions of the shot, this can leave you with phots that are too cold or too warm. To correct your shots click on the White Balance tools, click the eye dropper on an area that should be white and you’ll reset the balance for the entire shot.
- Correct exposure
One of the most common problems you’ll encounter is shots that do not have the correct exposure. Shooting and editing in RAW means that you have the ability to change the exposure setting without adding artefacts. You can use the Exposure slider to step up, (or down), an f-stop to recover your shot and give is a much better tonal range.