Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


Opening RAW photos in CS2

Filed under: — adam @ 10:33 pm

Another very informative article from Photoblog 2.0, this time on ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) 3.0.

Again, I mostly agree, with some comments.

I wholeheartedly believe that adjusting raw images in photoshop is an integral part of the modern photography workflow. The camera is an input device for getting your raw material. Obviously, the better the raw material you have to work with, the better your final product will be, so photoshop is no substitute for learning how your camera works, improving your shooting technique, or taking good pictures. But the latitude that you have available to you in photoshop is something that can’t be ignored.

A few general things about that:

  1. You can now adjust exposure by a whopping +/- 4 (yes, FOUR) stops! Using the full extent of this is likely to give you some severely messed up shots, but I’m totally stunned at the amount of detail (and noise!) it pulled out of some old badly underexposed raw photos that were almost completely black. Note – this is an excellent argument for shooting raw and keeping your raw files around – the raw processors are only getting better, and you can keep revisiting old frames to see if they can be improved with the new tools. If you shoot jpeg, you got what you got. [Update: Here's an example of a +4 stop recovery.]
  2. You can choose to apply sharpening to the preview only, and leave your actual image sharpening for full photoshop. I highly recommend you do this. In Bridge, it’s under Edit>Camera Raw Preferences.
  3. You can now open a bunch of raw photos, make adjustments, and save the changes to the raw files without ever opening the photos themselves in photoshop. This can save you a bunch of time in batch conversions. Also, ACR does batch processing in the background while you’re doing other things.
  4. A fun ACR trick – holding down the alt key (option on a mac, I think) while you slide the exposure or shadow slider shows you just the highlight and shadow clipping. This is supplemented by the checkboxes at the top for showing these in color overlaid on the image.
  5. If you want settings saved in the the sidecar .xmp files instead of a central database, you need to change that in the Bridge preferences (Edit>Camera Raw Preferences).

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