header image containing links to pages link to home page link to photographic art link to links page link to contact details
link to pet portraits galleries

Sally Jane Photographic Art

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial




Getting Started with RAW

Went working with RAW files with Adobe software you really need to understand 3 new programs as they are all interlinked. These programs are Adobe Bridge, a sidecar file management program that comes packages with Photoshop cs2 onwards; Adobe DNG converter, a plugin that converts RAW files to smaller DNG files, and Adobe Camera RAW or ACR for short which is another plugin that works with Bridge and Photoshop.

That list is probably enough to send you screaming for the door but don't worry. It really isn't as complicated as it sounds and all these programs are free as downloads if not already present with your version of Photoshop.

N.B. Photoshop 6 or earlier does not support RAW conversion and Photoshop cs came with a different manager so the following information might no be fully relevant. You will also have to check with the Adobe web site to see if your camera make and model are supported by your version of ACR (Adobe Camera RAW). If not you should be able to download the correct update for it here Windows or Mac. Click here for instructions on how to install these files once downloaded

One thing to note. In order to work on RAW files you do not need to be running Photoshop. It can all be done directly from the Bridge, so much so, that you might not need Photoshop for any editing at all. More about that in the next tutorial.

Step 1 - Importing your RAW images

When you connect your camera to your PC or insert the memory card you will probably be prompted to select the program you want to use to import the files. If not it is probably because you have already set a default program for this task. The list of programs should include Adobe Bridge if you have installed it. Select this option to get the Adobe Bridge Photo Downloader window up.

importing raw files

If you don't get the option to choose to import them via Bridge you can start by opening Bridge first and then clicking on File>Get photos from camera. This will then launch this same window but initially you won't see any images. You will need to browse for the right drive in the 'Get photos from' drop down box top left. Once you have selected the drive all your images should appear.

By default all the images should have a little tick underneath them. If you do not want to upload all the images you can use this box to deselect those you don't want.

On the right there are various options. First the Save Options. Here you select where you want your images to go and can specify a folder name. You can also request the files are renamed. I have requested that they be renamed with the date and time of shooting plus a number that corresponds to the file number provided by the camera. I could also add a custom name but I usually leave this out.

In the Advanced options you can request that the cameras RAW format be automatically converted to DNG files. Remember this other plugin I mentioned above? DNG files are about 2/3rds the size of the cameras RAW files format on average so it is a good space saver. You don't need to convert them though as the down side is that once converted you will only be able to use them with Adobe Camera Raw converter and any software provided by your camera manufacturer may no longer be able to use these images. I use a Nikon so my cameras RAW files are NEF files. Nikon supply a program called Capture NX but it can only read NEF files and won't touch DNGs. I don't use Capture NX very often if ever but I like to be able to keep my options open so I don't convert my images to DNG files. You, on the other hand, may prefer to do so to save space. If so tick this box.

importing and converting to dng

When you do check this box you can view the settings. I recommend leaving these at their default values shown here. The whole point of shooting in RAW would be lost if you check the box convert to linear image and similarly there is no point in checking the Embed Original Raw file as if file size wasn't a problem then you wouldn't be converting to DNG in the first place. Just click OK and return to the main importation window.

The other two options in the Advanced section here are self explanatory so we will move onto Apply Metadata. If you have created a metadata file in Bridge you can select it in this drop down box. I have created one that applies a copyright notice to my images so I have selected that to apply it automatically to all my images on import.

When you are happy you have all the settings as you want them click 'Get Photos' and the process begins as shown below. In this image you can see that I am actually converting the files to DNG files on import although this is not what I normally do.

importing in progress

Once complete, if you checked the box 'Open Adobe Bridge' then the Bridge will launch automatically. If not, open bridge and navigate to the folder where you imported your images to. You will see them displayed as thumbnails much like they are below unless you have changed your default display in the 'Preferences' dialogue.

adobe bridge

While in Bridge you can assign Keywords to these files either individually or in batch. I assign the camera make and model as well as the lens I used to every image. I might then assign keywords about subject matter. I do this before converting them from RAW because otherwise you will have two sets of images to assign keywords to rather then one. To assign the same keyword to all as a batch just click on one image and then Ctrl+click to select them all. Assign the keywords you want and then click on another image and it will automatically do the rest. Don't be tempted to delete any images at this stage as you don't really know what you have got until you open them in ACR (Adobe Camera RAW). The exception would be any out of focus images as focus in my opinion cannot be fixed.

RAW introduction

RAW - Camera Settings

Step 2 - Using ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) The Interface Explained

Creating Presets in ACR

ACR Basics & Exposure Tools

ACR Sharpening & Noise Reduction

ACR Curves tools

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"


Home - Site Map - Blog - My flickr


Contact Sally Jane

Tel. 07956 448690

e-mail - Images@sally-jane.com