Professional photography , today, is available to everyone. SLR cameras have more or less affordable prices (even if they are the most basic models), and most mobile phones on the market can shoot photos in RAW format like the professionals. This format gives us greater freedom when retouching, editing and improving photos. However, this format is not as compatible as JPEG or PNG, so to be able to open them, and especially edit them, it is necessary to use special software. And one of the best is Camera Raw , from Photoshop.
What is the RAW format?
The RAW format could perfectly be translated as “raw”. This format is named after the way it saves all the information captured by the camera sensor, that is, raw. When we take a photo in this format we are literally saving all the possible values that the sensor, or CCD, is capturing of it. Thanks to this, it is possible to use specialized software to be able to retouch that information and to be able to make small adjustments in a professional way.
For many, RAW is the equivalent of the “negative” of old cameras. Thanks to it we can retouch brightness, contrasts and even the white balance without damaging any of the other parameters of the photo, always maintaining its balance.
Advanced photographers shoot both in RAW and JPEG. In this way, the photos that look good will already be in the format ready to be saved, and those that need to be retouched can be modified from this file. Shooting RAW alone means spending a lot of time editing afterwards.
Advantages and disadvantages
The RAW format, as we have said, has several advantages. The quality of the photo is the highest it can have, since no compression is applied to it. In addition, having all the sensor information, the modifications we make will balance the rest of the elements.
But this format also has its drawbacks. Without going any further, RAW photos take up much more space than a JPEG, so we will need a larger memory card to save them. In addition, it is not a very compatible format, so we will always have to depend on specific software to be able to edit it.
How to open RAW photos in Photoshop
How could it be less, Photoshop supports the RAW file format. This means that the Adobe program can open these types of images to allow us to work with them. But it does not open them directly as it happens with JPEG or PNG, but it is necessary to use an intermediate program that acts as a “bridge” between Photoshop and the photo: Camera Raw .
Camera Raw is a free plugin that is included by default in Photoshop that will be responsible for opening the photo within the program. This plugin is compatible with most of the formats of professional cameras, so we shouldn’t have a problem when opening any photos with it.
If we have Photoshop configured in Windows to open the photos by default, we simply have to double click on the image to start editing it. If not, another way to open this photo is by right-clicking on it and choosing the option to open with> Photoshop CC.
We can also do it from Photoshop itself, by selecting the File> Open menu and selecting the photo in question.
When we try to open a photo with Photoshop, the program identifies what type it is. If it is a normal photo it will open directly in the editor, but if it is a RAW photo , regardless of its extension (which depends on the camera with which it was taken) then it will open directly with this plugin.
The Camera Raw interface is very simple. Most of this is reserved for the preview of the image, while the right is where we will enter all the editing and retouching options. Of course, the changes we make to the photo will be non-destructive, so, having the raw values, we can modify them again, or return to the originals, at any time.
As we can see, this program will offer us all the existing information about the photo , from the color curve to the type of lens used, the ISO and the diaphragm. Now we, using the different panels on the left side, we will be able to make the edits and corrections that we want. And if we do not want to complicate ourselves, the “Auto” button will allow us to adjust the image automatically, although the result will not be as good as if we do it by hand.
Here we can dedicate as much time as we want, or as we have. The possibilities are almost unlimited. Of course, it is important to have a good screen that allows us to appreciate the real colors of the photo. And have it well calibrated. If not, when we print it, or open it on another PC, the photo quality will not be the same. And that can be a serious problem.
How to Save Modified RAW Photo from Adobe Photoshop
And what do we do when we already have the RAW photo? Once we have it processed and retouched, we can save the changes within the RAW itself, although that is not the most advisable. The idea is that the RAW photo always remains original , without modifications, and that the changes are saved in a different file. If we save the changes from Camera RAW, the original file will be kept, and an XMP will be created with the new values. But it is not ideal either.
If we already have the photo ready, what we can do is save it directly in JPEG. This format takes up much less space, but uses compression techniques. Therefore, if we do not want there to be a loss of quality, it is necessary to save the photo in the highest possible quality.
We can do this directly from Photoshop itself. In Camera RAW, we click on “Open” to load the image into the Adobe program. Once the photo is open, we move to the File> Export> Export as menu, and we can see a window where we can choose how we want to save the image.
We will choose the format we want (JPEG, for example), compression, image size, etc. All the values we want. As we select options we can see that the size of the photo is changing.
When we have it ready, we save the new file and that’s it. The resulting JPEG photo will already be retouched.
Other ways to open RAW photos without Photoshop
If you don’t like Camera RAW, we obviously have other options. If we are not one of those who spend hours in front of the PC retouching photos, but we like the RAW format for not having compression, nothing happens. There are many programs that are capable of opening and processing these files so that they behave, roughly, like a JPEG or a PNG. Windows 10’s photo viewer, for example, is one of them. We can double click on this file and see how it is able to visualize the image.
And there are also many other programs beyond the control of Adobe. With them we can both open and edit this type of photos as if we were professional photographers.