July PS/PE SIG notes – Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Black and white photos.


You can view these notes online at https://2014photoshopsig.wordpress.com and also download them as a pdf.

For this Month

  1. Introduction to Adobe Camera Raw (ACR)
  2. Black and White Images
  3. July Challenge

Any Suggestions/Requests for the next few SIGs?

So far there has been only one request/suggestion from a SIG member.

If you have any requests or suggestions, please let me know.

What is Camera Raw and Why should I use it?


Most of us are used to using the JPG format to save and send pictures to our friends and family.

But there is another format called camera raw (RAW) that comes with today’s digital cameras. You are given a choice to save your photos – jpg, RAW, or both.

I hope to convince you to try shooting in RAW and having a go at post production in the PS/PE Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plugin.

Basically, ACR lets you make changes to the image on a global basis. Then you can use PS/PE to make changes to individual parts of the  image – such as make sky look bluer by using a layer mask.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using RAW


(1) RAW saves everything that you camera sees in the image. If your photo looks too dark/light, you can easily correct it in Photoshop.

(2) ACR gives you full control  over all the data, complete white balance control (sunny, shady, light bulb, etc.), more colors, control of exposure, detail and noise

(3) ACR gives you as many non destructive adjustments in as many different ways and saves them all to the original folder. Hopefully with names other than Variation 1. Dng, Variation 2.dng.


(1) Large file size. You will need a larger memory card than just shooting with JPG. But these days, an 8 or 16 GB camera is pretty inexpensive. So you can shoot in RAW without worrying about filling up your card. Please don’t tell me that you never download from your camera to your computer!

(2) Raw files take longer than the similar Jpeg files to be uploaded on your camera memory card and your computer as well. This means that the time between shots with your camera increases because of the extra time needed to transfer the data to the memory card. If you are an amateur photographer like me, then this is not a problem. But if you are trying to shoot in burst mode (3 to 5 shots per second), then the speed of your camera and memory card become important.

(3) Longevity – will ACR files go the same way as audio and video cassettes?

Here is an example of before and after. From http://digital-photography-school.com/raw-creativity/

The Before – RAW image opened in ACR.

Initial giraffe

Final image with the ACR technique applied. I reduced overall saturation, darkened the blue sky, and desaturated the greens a bit, all in ACR.

After giraffe

Opening a Photo in ACR

There are several different ways to open an image in ACR.

Method 1 – Using Bridge
(1) Locate the image that you wish to open and click on it.
(2) Right click on the preview and click on Open In Camera Raw. Or use the keyboard shortcut Control + R.

More information at: http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-editing/cs6-camera-raw-open-files/

Method 2 – Using Photoshop
(1) Click on File/Open As/Camera Raw. It should look like this.

Open image in Photoshop ACR

(2) Click once on the image that you want to open.
(3) Click on Open. this will open the image inside Photoshop ACR .
(4) Now it should look like this:

Open in Photoshop ACR


(5) The next part is to simply have a play with the different sliders to show you some of the capabilities of ACR.

More detailed information can be found in Camera Raw 6 Users’ Guide. you can download this from here.

I hope that you have a chance to read through the pdf to get more ideas about how to use ACR.

Black and White

Why would you want to show your photos in black and white? I thought that was what colour was for.  But the Digital Photography School has a good explanation. Now I can call myself an artiste?

“Colour photography is very literal. It depicts the world as it really is. Black and white, on the other hand, gives us a new way of seeing. Removing colour takes us a step away from reality and towards creating an artistic interpretation. Shape, form, tone and texture are revealed to the eye, rather than overpowered by colour.

But the appeal of black and white photography goes deeper than that. The monochrome image, at its best, is beautiful. It’s art. It captures the beauty and soul of the subject. It moves people. It’s powerful and it endures.”

Source: http://digital-photography-school.com/see-black-white/

Here are a few sample images in black and white (b & w).


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Source: http://digital-photography-school.com/a-collection-of-powerful-black-and-white-images/

When you shoot, here are some tips to help you get better images to post process into black and white:

(1) Shoot in RAW.

(2) Shoot in colour. Then change it to b & w in post production.

(3) When to shoot – try for black and white when the light conditions are dark and gloomy.

(4) Composition – continue using the tips from the Photoshop SIG over the last six months.

For a lot more details, try here: http://digital-photography-school.com/5-black-and-white-photography-tips/ .

Changing from Colour to b & w

Method 1 – not recommended because you lose so much data.

(1) Open your image in PS.

(2) Duplicate your image and rename it

(3) Close the original image.

(4) Pat your self on the back for avoiding the walk of shame.

(5) Click on Image/Mode/Gray Scale.

(6) Done! How quick was that?

(7) If you have made a mistake, then use F12  to revert the photo back to where you started.

Method 2 – Using Image/Adjustments – use on a duplicate layer.

(1) Open your image in PS.

(2) Duplicate your image and rename it

(3) Close the original image.

(4) Duplicate the background layer by clicking on

(5) Click on Image/Mode/Gray Scale.

(6) Done! How quick was that?

Note: I may be wrong about this. My impression is that any time that you use Image/Adjustments/Your choice of one of 25 selections then you are doing a destructive edit to the image. It looks like this:

Image - Layer - Adjustments

Try to avoid the above by using instead Layers/Adjustments/Your selection:

Layer - Adjustments

Method 3 – use a layer adjustment that is a non-destructive edit.
(1) Open your image in PS.
(2) Duplicate your image and rename it
(3) Close the original image.
(4) Click on Layer/Adjustment/Black and White. You should get something like this.
(5) Go through the presets first to see if there is anything that appeals to you.
(6) Then use the sliders to make further adjustments until you are satisfied with the result.

Other methods include Desaturate, Lab Colour Mode, Colour filters, Channels, Channel Mixer, Hue/Saturation, and probably a few more that I have not come across.

The August PS/PE challenge

Since the last few challenges have  gotten such a limited response, I will try to offer up a few challenges in this month so that there is hopefully something for everyone to try.

August Challenge 1 – Use ACR to edit an image (Introductory skill level )

Go out with your camera and take a few photos in your backyard

  1. Open your favourite image in Bridge/PS/PE and edit it using ACR. .
  2. Save it as a jpg.
  3. Please send your before and after jpg images to me at (photoshop@ausom.net.au).

August Challenge 2 – Open a photo in PS/PE, duplicate the layer, and use blending modes to create an image effect (Intermediate skill level)

  1. Use the same or another image for this challenge.
  2. Use whatever method of non destructive editing to change a colour image to black and white. (Hint,hint – use a layer adjustment)
  3. Please send your before and after jpg images to me at (photoshop@ausom.net.au).

That’s all, folks!


About woldham

Concise! Retired and loving it!
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