Photoshop Camera Raw Filter Series - Part 1 - Brighten Without Losing Highlight Detail

Welcome to the first in a 5-part series looking at the Camera Raw Filter in Photoshop.

This series will look specifically at using the Filter on JPEG files as a quick, powerful photo-editing tool for bloggers.

 

 
The first lesson will look at using the Highlight Slider to save the beautiful, sunlit areas of your photos while helping you to brighten those parts of your image lost in the shadows. This is a great tool for those of you that shoot images of rooms all the time.
 

 

What is the Camera Raw Filter?

The Camera Raw Filter is a programme that lives inside Photoshop (and Lightroom) to enable photographers to view and process RAW files.

Unlike JPEGs, you can't use RAW files straight from camera. Your camera takes all the data in an image and compresses it neatly into a JPEG you can use immediately. If you use a RAW file, you have to do the processing and compressing yourself. The extra work involved in processing RAW files is more than compensated for by having heaps of extra data, which means you have much more control over how the final image comes out.

I would recommend a move to RAW files if you've not considered it before. But, that's for another tutorial!

So, how does this help bloggers who don't shoot in RAW?

Even with a massively reduced amount of data, the lovely Camera Raw Filter gives us powerful photo-editing tools that can also be used on JPEGs.

 

Part 1: The Highlight Slider

The first lesson will look at using the Highlight Slider to save the beautiful, sunlit areas of your photos while helping you to brighten those parts of your image lost in the shadows. This is a great tool for those of you that shoot images of rooms all the time.

Anyone who photographs rooms regularly will know the problem of having either a well-exposed window with an underexposed foreground or, a completely over-exposed and blown-out window with a perfectly exposed foreground.

There are various ways to get around this, including combining two images, one exposed for the window and the other for the foreground. A mini-HDR image, if you like. But this is a little more time consuming, you need a tripod, and you'll need to do some masking.

The Highlight Slider in the Camera Raw Filter offers a quick fix for this problem.

If you look at the before-and-after shot below, you'll see that although the table has been brightened, the detail in the windows is almost identical.

This has been achieved by raising the exposure of the whole image to brighten the table, then lowering the highlights to get rid of any 'clipping' (blown-out areas).

This affect was achieved by moving just two sliders. You can then continue with the edit by working on clarity, saturation, contrast, etc, all accessible in the Raw Filter.

 

 
 

 

If you are looking for a quick edit, using the Highlight Slider is the way to go.

This tip would also work well on outdoor shots, when you need to protect the highlights in a cloudy sky.

 

Video Walkthrough

This video walkthrough will show you how to:

  • Convert your image to a Smart Object — a non-destructive and extremely helpful way to edit photos.
  • Increase your Exposure to compensate for the underexposed furniture in the foreground.
  • Decrease your Highlights to get rid of any clipping and bring back the detail in the windows at the back.

 

 

Over the next 5 weeks, I'll be looking at other quick ways you can use the Camera Raw Filter to boost your blog images.

This 5-part series will cover:

  1. Highlight Slider - brighten images without losing all the detail in the existing highlights. Great technique for room photos.
  2. Radial Filter - make the best bits of your image glow with the radial filter. Great for faces and fashion shoots.
  3. Shadows Slider - expose the beautiful details hidden in the shadows. Great for bringing out details and lifting an image without over-exposing it.
  4. Graduated Filter - add interest to a flat image or enrich skies or landscapes. Great for flat lays and travel images.
  5. Brush Adjustment - make really specific adjustments on your photos, and make sure the focal point of your image really stands out. Great for balancing competing elements in an image.

I hope that has tempted you to go in and give Camera Raw a try. See you next week.

[The stock images used in this series are available free from Pexels.]