Doing the evaluation

Before beginning any adjustments in Camera Raw or Photoshop, take these steps to evaluate your image:

1. Open the image in Camera Raw.

To do that, find the thumbnail in Bridge of the image you want to evaluate, and click it. Then you can choose FileOOpen In Camera Raw or press Ctrl+R (^+R on a Mac).

2. View the image in the Camera Raw window and evaluate white balance.

You'll get more proficient at judging white balance of an image with practice. Taking this step for every image you process will get you there quicker. Look for a portion of the image that is supposed to be white. Does that area have a blue or orange/yellow tint to it? If so, your white balance needs to be adjusted.

Color temperature will become more blue when decreased and more orange/yellow in cast when increased. If your image has a blue color cast, increase the color temperature in Camera Raw. If the image appears too yellow in cast, decrease the color temperature.

3. Evaluate the image for correct exposure.

Judging whether an image looks too dark or too light seems an easy way to judge exposure. For some photographs, I'm sure that's fine — but Camera Raw offers features that really let you fine-tune exposure. I show you those foolproof techniques in Chapter 9.

4. Evaluate shadows.

As explained earlier in this chapter, evaluating shadows is judging whether the midtones of the image should be lighter or darker. Camera Raw lets you adjust this to your personal taste, but it also shows you when your adjustment is causing clipping (loss of detail) in the shadow areas of your image.

5. Evaluate Brightness.

Though I often adjust exposure just up to where clipping is introduced, I may want to make an image lighter or darker, depending on what I want to convey. I use the Camera Raw Brightness control to increase or decrease brightness to my taste.

6. Evaluate Contrast.

For my scenic photos, whether they be cityscapes or landscapes, I tend to lean more toward higher contrast. For portraits, I'll only increase contrast if there is not enough contrast in the image, making the skin tones unrealistic.

7. Determine how much color you want to add or subtract to the image.

The last evaluation I make to an image is saturation. With raw images, often the way to reveal the color in the image as you had envisioned while taking the photo is to move the Saturation slider higher.

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