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Adobe Photoshop Tutorial




Getting Started with RAW

ACR - Top Tool Bar

We've discussed all the main tabbed tools on the right of the screen but there are some more right at the top of the ACR window. The top menu bar holds a selection of tools more normally associated with digital editing.

acr top menu bar

Lets look at these from left to right. If you click mouse on the icons in this image you can go directly to the part of this page that describes their use. First is a magnifying glass icon, this is the Zoom Tool and with this selected if you click on your image in the preview window it will enlarge. You can continue to zoom in to 400%. More than enough for anyone. To zoom out hold down the Alt key. You will see a little minus sign appear in the magnifying glass cursor telling you you are about to zoom out. Click on the image with the Alt key depressed and the image will shrink. You can zoom out to 0.5%! Why you would need to go that far is beyond me. You can see the amount you are zoomed in or out by at the bottom left of the preview image.

acr bottom menu bar

You can also use this box to select a zoom ratio direct by clicking on the little arrow next to the size window and selecting the desired size from the pop up list.

Next to the magnifying glass icon is a hand icon. This is the Scrolling Tool. with this selected your cursor changes to a hand and you can pan around your image in the preview window when you have zoomed in to a size that is larger than the preview area. You can also do this on the fly with any of the tools selected by holding down the space bar on your keyboard. As you hold it down you will see your cursor change.

There are then two eyedropper tools. The first one that looks like it is filled with grey ink is the White Balance Tool. If you select this tool and click on an area in your image that 'should' be neutral grey, ACR will automatically adjust the white balance for the whole image accordingly so that the area you clicked on 'is' now neutral grey. This can be very useful if you shoot a grey card before of immediately after a series of shots as you can select all the images in the thumbnail view and apply the same white balance setting to them all with just one click. Lets see this in action. The image below is as it came off the camera with the white balance on Auto.

acr white balance corection

At first glance you might think this is OK but it really wasn't as cold as it looks here. That is because with the overcast sky the auto white balance hasn't quite got it right. I could select 'Cloudy' in the drop down tab to the right of the screen. This is what I get then...

acr white balance correction

...not bad, it certainly looks warmer but it's a bit pinky. I could manually play around with the slider to get the right temperature and tone but the simplest way for a quick fix is to use the eyedropper tool. If I carefully select the distant cliffs that will be greyed by the haze in the moist air I can get a pretty good result.

acr white balance correction.

OK, in your web browser there might not seem much difference between the two but on my screen the grass is a little more green and the sand slightly more yellow.

The second eyedropper icon is a Colour Sampler Tool. With this selected you can measure the colour values of the pixels under your cursor and the reading is shown just below the histogram on the right of the screen. By clicking on the image it will place a marker there so you can identify this exact spot again. The values recorded there will than appear at the top of the preview window just beneath the tool bar. See below.

acr colour picker

The markers will not show on you final image and you can clear all markers by clicking on the 'Clear Samples' button that has now appeared.

The next icon showing two interlocking set squares is for the Crop Tool. This works much like it does in Photoshop. Just drag it over the image and it will show you the area you are about to crop. There are handles on each corner that you can adjust as you require to either enlarge or shrink the selection or even rotate it. The image below shows a gulls head with a lot of unrequired blank space around it.

acr crop tool

I think it would look far better cropped so I am going to select the crop tool and drag it across my image. By holding down the 'Shift' key as I drag I can confine the shape to a square.

acr crop tool

If I hit the 'Escape' key I can cancel this selection. To save it I need to hit the 'Enter' or 'Return' key. when you do you won't see much change. All that will happen is the little corner handles with go but the image isn't cropped. That is because, if you remember, any edits you perform in ACR are totally non destructive. The original image won't be cropped but the converted version will be. If you forget to hit 'Enter' or 'Return' the crop outline will remain but when you go to convert the image the crop won't be enacted.

If you save the crop but later change you mind all you need to do to remove or change it is to select the crop tool again and the handles will re-appear.

Next to the Crop Tool icon is an angles icon. This is an extremely useful tool as it is the Straightening Tool and it works hand in glove with the Crop Tool. I use this tool a lot as I hate anything not straight like that beach shot shown earlier.

acr straighten and crop

With the Straighten Tool selected click on the horizon at one end and drag to another point on the horizon. OK so I know I've not used the horizon here, I've used the coast line but as my horizon consists of gradually descending hills the coast is probably nearer horizontal. You will see a dotted line where you drag your cursor. As soon as you release it ACR will crop the image at an angle that will make the line you drew horizontal.

acr straighten and crop

Notice there are still little handles at the corners and on the edges so you can adjust the crop if you wish. Once you are happy just hit the 'Enter' or 'Return' key to accept the crop. Your converted image will be perfectly straight.

It works the same for vertical edges too. In this street scene below the buildings are on the lean.

This time I shall draw my line up the side of one of the buildings. I like to choose a good line that is as central as possible as some lenses will distort towards the edges.

The longer the line the more accurate the rotation will be. If you don't have many long lines you might need to zoom in on your picture to place your line accurately.

OK so that's straightened it up but I think I shall adjust it slightly to take in more of the top by just sliding it up as far as it will go.

There that will do, so I've hit return to accept the crop and the handles have disappeared.

The next icon on the tool bar looks like a brush with some little stars around it. This is the Healing Brush or Blemish Removal Tool. You can use this to remove spots and blemishes. I shall demonstrate it by removing one of the rocks in the water of my beach scene.

With the tool selected you will get a second dialogue bar with a slider for Radius and a drop down box providing one of two options, Heal or Clone. Make sure Heal is selected and forget the radius. Click on the centre of the blemish you wish to remove and drag outwards until you have enclosed it all in the red circle that appears.

As you release it a second, green, circle appears. As it does so the blemish will be replaced by blending the pixels enclosed in the second circle to match the surroundings of the first. If you had clone selected the first circle would be filled with an exact copy of the second circle which could result in hard edges or mismatched tones. The Radius will indicate the size of the circle you drew but you can pre-specify the value by typing a number in here and then when you click without dragging the circle will automatically be the size you specified. If you drag at all the radius will revert to whatever radius you drag your cursor to.

The eye icon is the Red Eye Removal Tool and this works much the same way as it does in any image editing program. I don't have any images to demonstrate on as I don't take portrait shots of people using direct flash but if I remember I will try and take some just to add to this web page. Unlike the red eye removal tool in Photoshop, this only works on human eyes that reflect red. Dogs eyes reflect green and ACR doesn't seem to be able to cope with that. To use it select the tool and click on a red area in the eye. It is best to be zoomed in well to use this tool. You should see all the red change to be desaturated and look more natural. If there is any left try clicking on that area again.

The next icon looks like a few lines of text. This is not a tool at all and it seems strange that it should be placed here. what this icon does is to open the ACR Preferences Dialogue window.

acr preferences

There are not many preference settings here compared to photoshop and you probably won't find much need to change anything.

The tow circular icons next to this are the Rotation Tools. The first rotates the image 90 degrees anti-clockwise while the second does it the opposite way around

The last icon we have already mentioned in a previous chapter. It is the Recycle Bin or Trash Can. This is the only tool that is permanent once you exit ACR. Up until that point you can change your mind. When you click on the recycle bin the image or images selected will have a little red cross appear in the top left corner. To remove them from the bin just click on the icon again and the cross will disappear. Once you exit ACR the images will be deleted.

Finally over to the right hand side of this menu bar is a little check box called Preview. If you remove the tick here by clicking on it any changes you have made will no longer be visible (but still there). You can use this to toggle between the before and after views of your editing. The last icon toggles your window from full screen to half screen mode.

Well I am almost finished with my ACR tutorials now. The last one will be about saving your files.




RAW introduction,

RAW - Camera Settings

Importing your RAW files

ACR Tools and Interface Explained

Creating and Applying Presets

ACR Basics & Exposure Tools

ACR Curves tools

ACR Sharpening & Noise Reduction

HSL/Grayscale tools (Hue, Saturation and Luminance)

Split Toning tools

Lens Correction tools

ACR Top Menu Bar (Crop, rotate and blemis removal etc)

Saving your settings and converting your RAW files

Bridge and Converted RAW Files



Recommended Further Reading for Photoshop

Return to introduction & contents page

"A-Z of Digital Editing"


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