Image Processing

The rise of the iPhotographer

Many of you will be taking your own photos and using them on your website.

Smartphone cameras have shown steady improvement, and side-by-side comparisons with DSLR cameras give impressive results.

Still, whether or not you used a "proper" camera or a smartphone, or even if you bought a pic from a photo library, it's likely to need a tweak or two to improve the pic.

We are talking strictly the tone and colours of a pic, not changing the placement of pixels, or adding or removing things in the pic.

For this you need a good image processor.

Lightroom et al

The best program for this is a RAW processor like Adobe Lightroom.

Some links to articles about alternatives to Lightroom are at the end of this article.

They recommend Apple Photos and Google Photos which also have powerful built-in controls.

Photoshop vs Lightroom and other image processors

Photoshop

Photoshop is primarily for changing areas of pixels in a photo: compositing, making collages and editing, which is why it is referred-to as a photo editor.

Lightroom

Lightroom - sometimes named "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom" - is a different beast to its namesake, Photoshop.

Lightroom is simpler. It's a processor, which implies that it processes the whole photo.

In actual fact Lightroom does have rudimentary selection tools, but its main strength is in its algorithms - the mathematical formulas that underlie the controls.

Lightroom and other image processors have a range of powerful controls which adjust the various aspects of a photo in ways that have a closer bearing to the real world than what Photoshop can easily achieve.

Or do they?

Hello there, Photoshop Camera Raw

It seems Photoshop has something to say.

If you don't have Lightroom, but you have Photoshop - which is more likely to be the case - you have access to a sort of "Lightroom Lite", the Camera Raw processor.

The Camera Raw processor in Photoshop features a set of controls very similar to Lightroom.

In fact if you're willing to live without the workflow and cataloging features of Lightroom, Photoshop Camera Raw is all you need.

So much for the previous section.

Update Camera Raw

Your version of Camera Raw may need to be updated.

Find the correct version for your version of Photoshop here.

Using Camera Raw

Here's how to access Camera Raw from inside Photoshop.

  1. Open Photoshop
  2. Go to File > Open
  3. Locate the folder with the pic you want to open
  4. Select the pic with a single click ie. without opening it
  5. (On a Mac, click the Options button, bottom-left. I don't know if there's something similar in Windows).
  6. At the bottom of the Open Dialog Box, go to Format
  7. Choose Camera Raw
  8. Open the pic

The controls are fairly intuitive and although each slider influences every other slider, they are quite linear by the fact that they are sliders, and the workflow progresses from top-to-bottom (the sliders), left-to-right (the panel switches at the top).

Once you've worked your way down the panel, tweaking settings, move back up to the top and switch to the next panel using the panel switches:

Lightroom Panel Switches

The first five panels are the ones you'll probably find most useful.

See here for a guided walkthrough video.

Once I've gone through all the controls I sometimes go back to the beginning and work through them again, improving what I've done already.

In fact I always do that. Sometimes many times.

Lightroom / Camera Raw can be really addictive.

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