April 28, 2011
Shoot and Edit: Week 16 – Family/Friends…EDIT
Welcome to the 16th week of Shoot and Edit: Part 2. Click HERE for all the details and upcoming prompts/themes (also including previous editing tutorials). 

This week’s theme or prompt was to show us one “Family/Friends” SOOC shot (this was just a suggestion, you can show us any SOOC shot). Hopefully you linked up with Jill’s blog earlier this week. Today I will talk about the advanced functions of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and using a “spotlight” to enhance your photos.

Each Thursday, I will take my SOOC shot and provide some basic editing tips (I will try to keep it basic and work my way up). You can then try these tips on your own photos and link up here – linky will now open EARLY on Thursdays and be open THROUGH SUNDAY. If you’d prefer, can simply share your own edit and show us what you did to achieve the look. We want this challenge to be a learning experience, so feel free to teach us something new too! Also, it does not matter what editing program you use. Although I tend to work within Adobe CS5 (Photoshop), Photoshop Elements and Adobe Camera Raw…it does not mean that you have to use the exact same program. I hope you’ll be able to take the concepts and apply them in the program you feel most comfortable using.

Once again, here is my SOOC shot:
Family Photos SOOC RS
The other day, I was tinkering around with one of my photos when it occurred to me that I may have even more functionality in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) than I realized. I’m not sure that anything in particular set me off, but I also started wondering if I could also use presets when working with ACR. These two questions (or wonderings rather) took me down a very exciting path that I’m happy to share with you today.

Both Photoshop Elements and Photshop CS# come with a plug-in called Adobe Camera Raw, which converts your raw files to a format (such as JPG) that can be edited in Elements and/or PhotoShop. For today’s purposes, I will show you both versions (I use CS5 and PSE7). The biggest difference between the ACR plug-in for Photoshop vs. Elements is that the one in PS CS# has almost all the functionality of Lightroom while the Elements version is pretty basic. Further said, PS’s version of ACR is compatible with ACR presets (often heard of with Lightroom)….Elements’ users have much more limited abilities (actually, I thought that you could not use presets in Elements…you can, but it’s a different download – similar to PS vs. PSE actions). 

So, building on what we’ve learned in the past 15 weeks (Week 1: Edit, Week 2: Edit, Week 3A, Week 3B, Week 4: Edit, Week 5: Edit, Week 6: Edit, Week 7: Edit,  Week 8: Edit, Week 9: Edit, Week 10: Edit, Week 11: Edit, Week 12: Edit, Week 13: Edit, Week 14: Edit, and Week 15: Edit), start by opening your photo in Adobe Camera Raw.

As we’ve discussed, the easiest way to adjust your white balance is by finding something white, black or grey in your image and using the eye dropper tool to select and then let ACR adjust. You may need to make a few manual adjustments, but that’s generally a good starting point. I used my sister’s white dress. Another tool I’ve found useful is the highlight warning tool (upper right corner). Click on that button to expose any areas of your image that may be clipped (too bright, or too dark). As you can see in my image, I have a few areas that are too bright according to my histogram. 
Clipping Screen
Much like the days of learning Photoshop, I went to the Coffeeshop Blog to check out Rita’s free presets. Typically, by studying how presets (or in the case of PS, actions) work, I tend to learn a lot about how the actual tools within any given program are supposed to function. So, I downloaded a few of her presets and followed the INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS. For purposes of this tutorial, I used Coffeeshop’s Vanilla Latte preset in her Coffee Bar Preset Bundle. There are two downloads within that link – one for PS users and one for PSE users.
Before and After ACR
By activating the preset, ACR will do a lot of the work for you. Above, I’ve included the basic adjustments – I think I may have added a little more fill light and used my recovery slider to get rid of my clipped spots. Since I’m still learning how to really use ACR, here’s a video that better explains the functionality – seriously, watch it!
I thought it might also be helpful to share my other tabs so you can a sense for how they changed based on the preset.
Advanced ACR
Just using Adobe Camera Raw, I am able to get a really nice black and white conversion. And…I can batch edit using Adobe Camera Raw. I’m only working with one photo here, but you would select multiple files and then use your preset to apply the same adjustments to your images. You can then go into each image and make subtle adjustments. Talk about a TIME SAVER!
Family Photos CS Vanilla Latte RS
I did bring the image over to Photoshop after my ACR adjustments. I wanted to lighten up my grandfather’s face just a little bit, so I created a duplicate layer with a screen blending mode and used a layer mask to paint over just my grandfather’s face. I then watermarked the photo and sharpened for the web. With that said, here’s a final look at my SOOC and final image in Photoshop.
Family Photos Before and After
If you’re using Photoshop Elements, the process is similar. Amanda @ Everyday Elements recently wrote a tutorial on editing images in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). Click HERE. I wanted to follow a similar pattern to my other ACR adjustments using the PS plug-in.

But first, I realized after walking through an alternative approach that PSE users can use presets. From Rita at The Coffeeshop Blog: “To use ACR presets in the “lite” version of ACR which comes with Photoshop Elements 6 and 7, you have to be a bit tricky. I include a folder of .dng images for PSE users. These images are labeled with the preset name and are photos I applied a CoffeeShop preset on in LR2 and then saved as a digital negative file (.dng).” Rita has always been great to think of PSE users when she creates a new action or preset – not all presets will work for PSE. I wanted to try her approach:
IMG_4182-2 Preset Version RS
I will tell you that there are very few differences – the biggest being that I cannot create a vignette within Elements’ version of ACR. And in my opinion, that’s not a deal breaker, at all (especially considering I’m now having a hard time seeing the difference). Here’s the comparison:
Family Photos Preset Compare
So, if you’re really interested in using presets in ACR, that’s one way to do it. I also though I’d share an alternative approach. It starts with some basic adjustments:
PSE-ACR Adjustments
If you want to quickly convert your color images to black and white, this might be one way to do that – from a bulk editing perspective at least. I think it needs a little more color – in the future, I might add a photo filter layer once I pull it over to Elements.
Family Photos ACR RS
All that aside, I thought I’d share what I did instead: the spotlight effect. After making any other adjustments that you feel necessary (in my case, I made a curves and levels adjustment after bringing the photo over from ACR) and merging your layers, you’ll want to create a duplicate layer (ctrl+J). Go to Filter (top of your screen) > Render > Lighting Effects: you’ll get a pop up window like the one below. I encourage you to experiment with the settings and placement. Once you’re done, click okay. I then lowered my spotlight to 70% opacity.
With those adjustments, you get the following (like I said, I should have applied a warming filter):
Family Photos PSE Final RS
And the comparison:
Family Photos SOOC and PSE Adjustments
So, to recap our lesson, we learned how to use the advanced functions of Adobe Camera Raw (including presets) and rendering a spotlight. For your edit, I would love to see you continuing using the lessons we’ve covered in the past 15 weeks. I also encourage you to give this lesson a try.  Oh, and Lightroom users…feel free to walk us through your steps in a little more detail – I know there are a few LR users out there that would live the additional guidance.

With that said, here’s a final look at my SOOC, PSE Edit and PS Edit. I hope you found today’s lesson useful. If you have any questions or need more explanation, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Family Photos Final Comparison
By the way, if you just fell in love with Lightroom or ACR presets…in addition to the Coffeeshop Blog, here’s another free resources: I Break for Bokeh and Presets!

I hope you all have a great Thursday and I look forward to seeing your edits!