When shooting in RAW I process my images in Adobe Camera Raw before opening the images in Photoshop CS5. The tools in the ARC converter represent some of the greatest innovations in photographic technology. There are other programs I could open my images in but my preference for processing images has always been the Photoshop programs.
As you can see when this Raw image is opened even though the histogram is good it is a little dark and a little cool. Both adjustments can be corrected using the adjustment sliders in the basic tool Pallet.
With this images I shifted the Exposure slider to +1.10 to lighten the image a little. If you look at the histogram on the top right it has shifted the information to the right without creating any clipping in the highlights. I also moved the black slider from 5 to 8 which gave me a little depth in the shadows. With the White Balance I selected Auto which warmed the image. Then I brought the recovery sliced to 31 which brought a little more detail to the clouds. There are many other wonderful tools that I have spent hours on in ARC but I seldom use them since I have started using Nik software. I will use a few of the tools in the Nik software suite to finish this image after I open the Raw CR2 file in Photoshop CS5
The perspective of this image is off and there are two ways to correct this. One is to get out my 4″x5″ camera out and make the adjustments to straighten the angles out before shooting by making bellows adjustments or use the transform tool in Photoshop when I get home. A good amount of my shooting time is spent teaching digital classes and I seldom bring my film cameras while I am teaching so I spend the extra time making the perspective adjustments using the transform tool after I get home.
Before you use the transform tool you must first create a duplicate layer of your images you can do this by going to the top Menu bar to Layer > New > Layer via Copy or use the shortcut Ctrl J to create a duplicate layer. Once you have done this go back up to the top Menu go to Edit > Free Transform. If you hold down the control key you can drag the corners to correct the perspective of the image. When I want to make precise adjustments I will create a grid by going to View > Show > Grid. After you have transformed the image, hit enter and you have transformed the perspective to the image.
When I have finished some basic adjustments I decide on which of the Nik software to use. With this image I have decided to use Film Effects in Color Efex Pro. On the right hand side there is a dropdown menu that has 33 different film types to chose from. When you scroll over the film type with your curser it will show you a preview of what that image would have looked like if you had captured that image with that type of film. For this image I selected Kodak Ultra Color 400UC. In the past I would have been limited to the types of film I had brought on location. This one tool in Nik Color Efex Pro opens up endless possibilities.
The next tool I decided to use is VIVEZA 2 which is also a Nik software tool. By dropping in a control point in the blue sky I moved the warmth slider to the right to give the sky a nicer blue. I then duplicated this control point by holding the Alt key and dragging a duplicate control point to the left and right. To avoid any overlap of the blues I had just enhanced I dropped in neutral control points into the clouds. In this case there was some overlapping and the neutral control points eliminated the blue overlap and put the original warmth back into the clouds. You can try Nik software for a 15 day trial and when you buy Nik you can use my discount code “EuropeanImages” for a 15% discount.
By using ARC and Nik software I have transformed a finished image into a printable file in just a few minutes. I usually find that I will go back and tweak an image in a day or two, so I am viewing the image with a slightly different perspective.