Photoshop tutorial: Retouch photos beautifully using Photoshop CC’s Camera Raw filter

Learn how to use Camera Raw as a smart filter

Intro


Using Smart Objects in Photoshop is a great way to non-destructively edit your photos while keeping the RAW data from the original file embedded in the Photoshop Document. This allows you to go back later to give your shot a different look for a subsequent project, for example.

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In this tutorial, I’ll take you through my standard workflow for producing many recent photos in my portfolio, since Adobe added the Camera Raw filter in Photoshop CC – as well as giving you the details of how I applied this approach to this shot of the wonderful performer Eliza Delite. The Camera Raw filter is almost the same tool you’re used to from previous versions of Photoshop. It has a few extra adjustment features, but the main change is that you can apply it to any image at any point in your creative process – rather than just when you import RAW photos.

We’ll be looking at how to use Camera Raw as a smart filter: applying Exposure, Sharpening, Noise Reduction, Local Adjustments and Perspective Correction to a photo in the time it takes to make a cup of tea, with the option to double click the layer to go back and modify your adjustments at any time.

Time To Complete

5 mins

Software Needed

Photoshop CC with Adobe Camera Raw 8.1 or higher.

Step 1

STEP 1

Open your image in Photoshop and convert to a Smart Object. Right click on the layer in your Layers panel and choose Convert to Smart Object.

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Step 2

STEP 2

After converting your image to a Smart Object, you’ll see a little icon appear in the bottom right of your layer thumbnail that looks like this.

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Step 3

STEP 3

Now your image has been converted to a Smart Object, we are ready to start making some non-destructive modifications to our image. Go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter which will bring up the familiar Adobe Camera Raw dialogue box.

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Step 4

STEP 4

Lets make some general image modifications first.

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Select Basic from the tabs on the right, where you will find Exposure, White Balance and Clarity.

Use the sliders to correct as needed. I also tend to set Clarity to +10 to bring out the details in my images.


Step 5

STEP 5

In the Detail tab, move on to working with Sharpening and Noise. Sharpening is set to +25 by default, which is OK for most images.

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The Luminance slider is great for removing noise in images taken with a high ISO. For this image however, the ISO when shot was 100 – so I’m going to leave my Luminance at 0.

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Step 6

STEP 6

Moving along to the HLS/Grayscale tab, select the Saturation secondary tab. Use this to adjust the impact of the different colours in your photo.

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I increased the saturation in the red, orange and yellows of my photo using the sliders provided – bringing out the red and gold of the costume.


Step 7

Step 8

STEP 8

Click on the Colour secondary tab and turn on Remove Chromatic Aberration, which will remove any colour fringing around the edges of your subject.

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Step 9

STEP 9

Next, click on the Manual secondary tab, where you’ll find a feature called Upright for correcting perspective so that vertical lines in your photos are straight and, well, vertical. This is new in Photoshop CC – new even to the long-standing version of Camera RAW that appears when you bring a RAW file into Photoshop.

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Photoshop has four automatic settings, which detect lines in your image and help to correct tilt-shift or lens distortion. Here I chose A for Auto.


Step 10

STEP 10

The automatic correction has done a pretty good job, but I still wanted to make a few minor adjustments to deal with some minor distortion and balance the relative angles of her head and body. So I rotated the image -3.5 and added a distortion of +1.

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Step 11

STEP 11

After making the before changes to your whole photo, you’ll next want to use the Adjustment Brush to ‘paint’ effects onto certain areas within it.

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The Adjustment Brush can be found in the top row of icons above your photo. Begin to add local adjustments to smaller areas of your photo.

I brushed over the tops of her thighs, using a mix of Exposure and Tint to match the skin to the tones of her arms and face.

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Step 12

STEP 12

To add a second adjustment, select New at the top of the settings tab, above the sliders. A second pin will appear on your image in green. If you need to delete a local adjustment, highlight the associated pin and press Backspace.

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I wanted to match the gold cuffs to the gold in the rest of the outfit, so I created a second adjustment layer with the settings shown.


Step 13

STEP 13

The new Radial Filter is great for adding spot highlights or vignettes to your image.

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Here I set the Exposure to +0.3 and Clarity to +10, with Feather at 100 and Effect set to Inside. I drag the filter over the face to add a little radiance.


Step 14

STEP 14

Once you’re happy with the look, press OK in the bottom corner of the dialogue box to apply these modifications.

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Step 15

STEP 15

You can now make any final adjustments to your image in the main Photoshop workspace. Here I applied a quick texture overlay and an Iris Blur.

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STEP 16

Tip 1: Bring Lightroom settings into Photoshop

If you’ve previously been working on the image in Lightroom or Bridge, you may already have applied some Camera Raw modifications. To embed these changes into your Photoshop file, choose Photo > Edit In > Open as a Smart Object in Photoshop CC from Lightroom or hold down the Shift key in the ACR window to convert the blue Open Image box to Open Object.

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You now have the choice to skip step two and double click on the Smart Object to bring up your previous modification data for any minor modifications.


STEP 17

Tip 2: Lightroom profiles in Photoshop

Also, if you’ve come directly from Lightroom, you’ll also find a ‘Profile’ sub menu, where you can Enable Profile Correction and fill in your lens information from the dropdown menus to correct any vignetting or distortion.

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