How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW

How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW

Last week Little Miss Katy did a fab guide on how she edits her Instagram photos. I’d been thinking about writing something similar for my blog photo process so when Katy wrote “DUDE. Please write a blog post on how to edit Raw” I thought I’d have a go!
There are a few things you should know before we dive in:
  • I’ve used examples which are some of the more extreme edits I’ve done so that you can see clearly how much of a difference it can make, not all of my photos need this much work!
  • When I’m able to take photos in natural light I don’t need to edit as much. However when you only get to take photos at evenings and weekend it can be a real struggle. That’s where I find that editing really helps.
  • I use the Sony Cybershot DSC RX100. It isn’t a DSLR and doesn’t have interchangeable lenses, but I think it holds up pretty well against the big guns. All the below photos are shot in AP mode, where I have set the aperture and point of focus and the camera automatically adjusts the other settings.

Shooting in RAW Format

Most digital cameras nowadays offer you the ability to shoot in multiple formats with the two common ones being JPEG and RAW. You should be able to find how you can change between these fairly easily in your camera settings.
I shoot and edit my photos in the RAW format.

JPEG files are small because the image information is compressed, but this loses some of the image quality and every time you make an edit on the photo the quality deteriorates further, so if you play around with them too much they get all grainy.

RAW on the other hand is a lossless format which means that it preserves all of the file’s original data. This means better quality as you still have all that image information to perform edits against. However the larger file sizes mean that you will need more storage capacity if you take lots of photos.

With RAW you need to view and process your images through a Raw editing programme since the file format cannot be read with standard picture viewers. I use the Adobe Photoshop Plug-In Camera Raw. Once all my changes are complete I save them into the JPEG format and then upload them to social media or my blog from there.

Why I Use Photoshop

Photoshop isn’t cheap to buy but a monthly subscription is less than £10 a month. There are lots of free editors out there, some with really good reviews, but as soon as I started using Photoshop Camera Raw I instantly knew that it was right for me. It’s simple to use and I can transform a photo in less than a minute with a few button clicks.


How I Edit My Photos

I don’t follow the same process for each photo because different lighting / focus and subject matters all come into it, but here are the things I do on an average edit.
First let’s look at the before and after, then I’ll step you through.

How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW

The before picture is dark and has a yellowy tint due to the indoor lighting at the restaurant. Here it is in the Camera Raw editor.

How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW

Exposure

I love light, bright airy looking photos, it’s my signature style. However a lot of the photos that I take are indoors and if I’m at an event or in a restaurant I can’t control the lighting. I NEVER use the flash, it flattens the image and just looks unnatural to me, so instead I adjust the exposure in RAW.

How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW
How: As a first step I brighten my photos by setting the exposure to 1.0, then adjust the slider up or down accordingly to see what looks best.

White Balance

With indoor lighting pictures can end up with a yellowy tinge. This is most noticeable in food shots or where you have a lot of white in the photo, so I adjust the white balance to correct this.

How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW

How: I select ‘auto’ from the White Balance drop down options. It’s that simple!
If it still doesn’t look quite right I use the slider to set a Custom Temperature. Dragging it to the left cools the tones, dragging to the right increases the warmth. Alternatively you can type a number into the box instead.

Contrast

How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW

Next, I add a bit of contrast to avoid a ‘washed out’ look from upping the exposure earlier.
How: I type in a setting of +10 as my default and then adjust as needed.
Some people go the other way and create much softer, calmer images by lowering the contrast, so I’d suggest having a play with it to get the right mood for your pictures.

Other Tweaks

If it needs it, I’ll adjust the clarity up or down by a few points – between -10 and +10 for either a slightly softer look or a little bit of extra sharpness. A few points go a long way.
Occasionally I’ll use the other sliders too – it only takes a second to type in a number and slide it up or down, and if I don’t like anything I just set that particular dial back to zero again. The black and white sliders can help your images to pop and the Saturation and Vibrance options can enhance or tone down the colours.
My aim is always just to make the end photo look like what I saw in real life, so I use the sliders sparingly.
Here’s the whole sequence:

How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW

Here’s a picture that I took at Center Parcs. It was night time and we had the lights on in the apartment which created a horrible yellow glow on my photos. I was going to bin this shot because frankly it’s terrible, however I ended up salvaging it in Raw and using it in a collage. I’ve included it here as an extreme example of what 1 minute of editing can do. The transformation in picture 3 from yellow to white is one single click – the magic of White Balance!

How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW
How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW
How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW
How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW
How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW
Here are a couple more examples of 1 minutes edits, again following the same process of adjusting the White Balance with the drop down menu and then typing a + or – number into the adjustment boxes.
How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW

How I Edit My Photos In Photoshop RAW
…and that’s how I edit my photos!
If anyone is interested in another post showing you some other handy things you can do in RAW and Photoshop please do let me know in the comments or by tweeting me @lovedbylaurac .

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