Recently another photographer was kind enough to rework one of my photographs. I learned through him that Photoshop CS6, specifically ACR, was a game-changer. Why? Because one can manage light much more effectively when opening a RAW file.
Soon thereafter, I upgraded from CS5 to CS6. I am glad I did!
One of the single most difficult issues in processing digital images is the continuing issue of highlights and shadows. If one exposes for highlights, shadows overpower the photograph. If one exposes for shadows, highlights are almost always blown out.
Photoshop CS6, specifically when working with ACR, one gets the following options, which differ dramatically from what one sees in CS5.
Note the “Highlights” and “Shadows” sliders. These differ from CS5 where one has options for “Recovery” and “Fill Light.” The new sliders in CS6 make a world of difference in containing highlights and pulling details out of darks.
Here are some examples, click on any one of them to see a larger image:
In the original image of the Cheetah, the whites were very bright as were the highlights in its body. Using CS6 I was able to save the details of the whites while pulling out more detail in the Cheetah’s body.
In the image of the four Giraffes, the lone Giraffe was blown out and when trying to compensate by changing the exposure the details in the foreground Giraffes were lost. Now both are saved.
In the above photograph, the Cheetah on the left was overexposed as were the highlights on the Cheetah on the right. Using CS6, I was able to recover the whites and pull out more of the details in the shadow areas.
In the last example, I was able to pull out more details of the Cape Buffalo’s dark skin yet keep the highlights of the grasses in check.
OK Bill, show me an original shot and how CS6 changed it. Here we go:
After Editing in CS6 ACR
Kinda cool huh?
What has me excited is that I can now go back to old photographs I shot years ago and pull out details I never thought were possible. As in this shot of a Big Horn Ram, photographed in Glacier National Park.
In sum, as software continues to improve, many of our older photographs can be revisited because what was not possible two years ago is today.
If you haven’t bought or upgraded to Photoshop CS6, I highly recommend that you do so. Please note that I do not use the Creative Cloud, I simply upgraded CS5 to CS6 for $200. It was well worth the price. Hopefully, Adobe will allow users like myself to upgrade from time to time without getting into the Creative Cloud concept. I detest the new Adobe business model, but I do have a great deal of respect for Adobe’s engineers, they are the best in the world. Too bad Adobe does not match its engineers with good managers – I know, that is too much to ask.