Monday, June 16, 2008

The power of Adobe Camera Raw-Amazing!

What does your digital workflow really look like? If you are a busy shooter like me, you undoubtedly have a basket, drawer, or something loaded with DVD's of your personal work, waiting to be processed. I not only have a huge basket full of DVD's, but two 300 gig hard drives patiently waiting for my attention.

It is really not that bad because since I have no urgent need for those photos and prefer to process them leisurely rather than urgently. I go through the folders and pick at least one image a day to process and this is today's image.

It is from one of my favorite places to shoot, Death Valley, and is across the road from Devil's Golf Course. I was teaching a workshop with my dear friend Brenda Tharp and we spent the morning with our group photographing the golf course. When we were about to wrap up our morning, I was in the parking lot with a few students when I spied this view about a mile away. I call them the Neapolitan Hills because they remind me of a bowl of different flavor ice cream with some various syrups poured on top.

I'll show you how I did it:

I attached my 300mm to my Canon 5D and aimed it the hills. I shot various sections of the scene and then also made sure I overlapped a few frames to make a panoramic image.

These files have sat on the hard drive for 6 months and the reason is that when I looked at the thumbnails of the images, they looked very flat and boring like this one pictured. I was not inspired! However, today I needed a challenge and decided to look for an image that can be rescued and here it is.

I opened the image in ACR and first went to the curves dialog where you can see a very flat image with all the data compressed in the middle. I needed to pull the shadow areas closer to black and the lighter areas closer to white. I selected and pulled the black anchor point in closer to the black area of the curve, then did the same pulling in the highlight anchor point.

I next went back to the Basic panel and adjusted the WB to 8000 to reduce the blue/gray cast that was prevalent. I also slid the Black slider up to almost the middle while watching the histogram to make sure I did not go to far. I also considered the fact that there really was not a black in the scene so I did not move the slider to far. I next bumped up the brightness and contrast a little, added some Clarity, and some Vibrance and Saturation. Here I am "sliding to taste" or until I like the image.

I then selected the HSL panel in ACR and slid the sliders for almost all the colors to the right slightly to increase the saturation.

I then opened up two more images that were the left and right of the first image and when they opened in ACR I selected the Previous Conversion from the drop down menu on ACR and processed them with the same settings as the first image so they matched. Finally, I opened Photomerge in Photoshop and selected these three images and stitched them together.

Digital RAW files and Photoshop......truly amazing!

1 comment:

Brenda Tharp said...

Wow, Charlie! Delicious!! I love the results of this image. I was there and know what potential it had. Funny, I too look at my RAW files sometimes and yawn, uninspired - but when I jump into them and get started working on them, I get more excited! This proves the power of ACR and Photoshop.