Modifications Using Photoshop Camera Raw’s Adjustment Brush (Tutorial)…

This post has been sitting in drafts for longer than I had intended… my apologies for the delay…

Last time I mentioned that there are some limited things you can do in Photoshop Camera Raw to ‘fix’ your photo for those times when you don’t have light modifiers on a bright sunny day.  The photo below was modified in Camera Raw, this post will show you how I did it…

pink pompom

Here’s the before/after comparison…  notice that I pulled down brightness on the blown out parts and brought up the exposure on the dark shadows…

camera-raw-comp_hp-LR500-wm

How To

I always take my photos in Raw format, that way I have more control of the photo when I get home.  Once in Bridge, you can select the desired raw photo and it should just open up in Photoshop Camera Raw (otherwise, you can right click on the image and select ‘Open in Camera Raw’).

Mine looked like this…

cr-baseline_hp-LR500

Step 1

The first thing I did was play around with the exposure and contrast.  I decided to lower the exposure (-0.15) and increase the contrast (+10).  It took some of the glare off and darkened the background a smidge…

step-1-exposure-contrast_hp-LR500

Step 2

Here’s where the magic happens… you can make changes to select areas of your photo by using the Adjustment Brush…

adj-brush_hp-LR500

I decreased the exposure to -0.90 and applied the brush to the blown out parts of the flower.  The whitish highlighted area is where my adjustments were applied – which you can see if you hover the mouse over the ‘pin’…

step-2-darken-flower_hp-LR500

Then I created a new adjustment brush…

new-adj-brush

And increased the exposure to +2.35 and applied the brush to the dark shadow areas of the bud (see highlighted area)…

step-3-lighten-bud_hp-LR500

The really cool thing about this tool is that you can set the modification (exposure, contrast, etc.) apply the brush, and then adjust the modification up or down until it looks right.

Lastly, I created another adjustment brush. I set the exposure to -1.65 and applied it to the blown out leaves…

step-4-darken-leaves_hp-LR500

Notice that each new adjustment brush has it’s own ‘pin’.  You can reopen the raw file and continue to adjust these pins by simply clicking on the pin and then adjust the modification.

If you need to remove some of the changes you’ve made, simply click on the pin and then hit the delete key on your keyboard… that one pin will disappear, but leave all the other pins.

This is how the file looked in Camera Raw when I felt I was finished modifying it…

zed-final-photo_hp-LR500
From here, you simply click ‘Done’.  One of the greatest benefits of making changes in Camera Raw is that it is non-destructive.  Which means that any change you make in this program is put into a ‘sidecar’ file (.xmp) it does not actually change your original file.

At any time you can return to the default photo and start over.  Which you can do by clicking on the little icon in the upper right hand corner and then select ‘Camera Raw Defaults’…

cr-defaults_hp-LR500

I hope this was helpful.

Until next time…
~nic

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