leverage RAW editing power for any image format

Most of us know that choosing to shoot in RAW image mode with our digital cameras affords us all kinds of additional opportunities to tweak our images in post-production (and if your camera can’t shoot RAW, check out this blog post to see how you might be able to add that functionality).

What you might not know is that you can leverage the enhanced retouching interface for RAW images within Photoshop even if the image you’re editing is not in RAW format.  That’s right, JPEG files, TIFF files, you name it…if Photoshop can open it, then you can tell Photoshop to open it the RAW image editor.  Here’s how:

1) Launch Photoshop as you normally would and choose “File” from the menubar and then “Open” from the drop down menu, just as you normally would to open any image.

2) Browse to the image you want to open and click on it’s name once to select it, but don’t double-click the filename or click that “Open” button just yet.  Notice the drop down menu next to the word “Format” in the lower left corner?

screenshot of Open dialog (1 of 2)

3) When you clicked on the file you selected, Photoshop automatically changed the “Format” drop down menu to suit the type of file you selected (in this case, I selected a JPEG file so the drop down was set to JPEG).  However, you can choose to override this behavior.  Click on that drop down menu and choose “Camera Raw” instead.

screenshot of Open dialog (2 of 2)

4) Once you have selected “Camera Raw” from the “Format” drop down menu, click the “Open” button just as you normally do to open a file in Photoshop.  Instead of the familiar Photoshop image window, you will see an interface that looks something like this (its exact appearance will vary from CS3 to CS4 or CS5).

screenshot of Camera Raw interface

5) Congratulations!  You are now editing an image in Camera RAW, even though that image is not actually in a RAW format.  Adjust your image as desired, and click the “Done” button when you are finished (or the “Open Object” button if you wish to continue working with your image in the normal Photoshop interface).

Due to the limitations of the actual format of your image, you may notice a few of the options in Camera RAW are disabled.  This is to be expected.  Still, you will also notice many tools and more tweakable options available to you from this interface (for color correction and other common retouching needs) than are available in Photoshop’s normal dialogs for Sharpening, adjusting Levels, Brightness/Contrast, Highlights/Shadows, and the like.

If you have never used the Camera Raw interface before, check out this video which provides a basic introduction to this powerful editing tool.  If you have used Camera Raw before but are new to CS5, you might also want to watch this video which describes the many new abilities added to Camera Raw in the latest version of Creative Suite.

Drew Wallner


~ by atw17 on February 6, 2011.

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