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Adobe Photoshop Tutorial




Working with RAW files

Step 3 - Using ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) Fine Tuning Your Images

OK so we have looked at the tools available in ACR now it's time to get out hands dirty. I have taken a batch of shots and deliberately not paid too much atention to their exposure so I can use them for this tutorial. I will show you how you can apply changes as a batch or individually and how you can ssave preset custom settings to apply with just one click. I can't explain every tool in detail as it will take too long but I will go through all the main ones reasonable thoroughly and try and touch on the rest. You should have a sufficiently good understanding of how it all works by the time you have finished this tutorial to be able to experiment with anything I have left out but if there are specific topics you would like me to cover that I have missed or just explain better do please e-mail me. My details are at the bottom of each page.

arc interface

Above is the kind of display you will get when you open up a batch of images in ACR. Remember if you only open up one image at a time you will not see the thumbnail view down the left hand side.

Creating and Using Presets acr preste window

The lens I used on this set of images is a new one and I currently have not set up a preset set of settings for it so that is the first thing we shall look at. As a reminder her is the presets window that you will find by clicking on the far right tab underneath the histogram. The lens I have used is a 60mm macro f/2.8 so lets start creating a preset for it. You will first need to know what settings are specifically required for the lens which you will only really know after using it for a while. For instance, some lenses are softer than others so a little subtle sharpening may need to be applied to all shots taken with it. Some lenses are less contrasty so you might want to boost the contrast on all shots taken with that lens as a starting point. These are settings you can safely apply without actually seeing the images becasue they are characteristics of the lens and camera combination. For this acr sharpening windowlens and for the sake of this tutorial I am going to say that in general the images taken with it require a small amout of sharpening, a contrast boost and acr esposure settings a little extra vibrancy. So first I click on the sharpening tab which is the third from the left and looks like two triangles (see left). By increasing the size of the image in the preview window to 100% I can see the sharpening changes take effect. Sharpening in ACR is quite subtle. I'll move the amount up to 75 and leave the rest as they are. Just enough to give that little bit extra punch without it actually noticing that I've sharpened it. Now I'll go back to the Exposure settings window or 'Basic' as it is called, by clicking on the far left tab that looks like an iris (shown right). I shall move the Contrast slider to +45 and the Vibrance to +10. OK that's all I want to do for a general fix for this lens so now lets save this as a preset.

acr saveing settings - presetsIf you look at the title bar just below the tabs you will see on the far right a tiny icon that looks like a paragraph format icon with a tiny black triangle next to it. Click on this to bring out a another window with a list of options (see left). Towards the bottom of the list is one that says 'Save Settings' Select this to be taken to another window that asks you to select wich settings you want to save (see below).acr saving settings - presets







For my requirements as I have not made any other changes to the default settings other than those I want to keep I am happy to leave all these boxes checked but if on reflection I decided that increasing the Vibrancy might not be needed for all shots I can simply uncheck it here and only the sharpening and contrast will be saved. Once happy with the selection click on save and you will be prompted to assign a name for this preset (see below). give it a name that will be meaningfull. I use the model of the camera first 'D300' followed by a description of the lens which in this case will be 60mm macro. Click on save and it's done.

acr saving settings - presets

acr presetsNow when I go back to the presets window my new preset is listed with the others.

To use a preset on your images you first need to select all the images in the thumbnail viewer, on the left hand side of your screen, to which you want to apply the changes to. Then, with any of the tabbed windows showing, click on the little icon on the far right of the title bar below the tabs to get that other widow with the list on it out as we did before. acr applying presetsClick on 'Apply Preset' and another window will fly out listing all your presets. Select the one you want and all those changes will be updated on the images you selected automatically.

You will also be able to use these presets directly from Bridge without even opening up ACR. This links will take you to a tutorial that explains how.





In the next tutorial I will be looking at making changes using the options in the Exposure or 'Basics' tab.


RAW introduction

RAW - Camera Settings

Importing your RAW files

ACR Interface Explained

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"


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