Basic Editing

Basic Editing

This video demonstrates how easy it is to perform basic editing tasks to enhance RAW images using the tools in the Basic and Detail panels.

Photos: Dina Douglass, Andrea Livieri

I’ll be using the tools in the Basic and Detail panels. Exposure is an advanced non-destructive editor and organizer. It supports many cameras and image formats, including RAW, TIFF, JPG, PSD, and DNG.

Exposure also features helpful keyboard shortcuts that speed up your workflow. I’ll be using some of them to do my edits. I have two RAW files here – one landscape and one portrait. During this video, I’ll flip back and forth between the images with the arrow keys. Both photos are really nice, but they would really shine with a few basic tweaks.

The first thing I’ll do is apply cropping and straightening, as needed. For the portrait, I’ll crop a little bit to help focus the attention on my subject. For the landscape shot, I can crop and also use the Angle slider to straighten it. Exposure enables me to draw a line in my image to serve as a reference point.

Now I’ll begin making edits in the Basic Panel.

I can keep each image in color or change either to B&W. I’m going to leave them in color.

If I want to cool down or warm up an image, I’ll adjust the Temp slider. With the portrait, I’ll bump it up to add a little warmth to the skin. I’ll use the E and R keys to adjust the temperature.

Exposure features modifier keys for fine tuning or making larger adjustments. The Shift key lets me adjust the value by a larger amount, for the Temp slider it’s 15. The Alt key lets me fine tune the adjustment by only .01. These shortcut keys are really helpful when you’re editing.

I’ll use the tint slider to shift the tint a little toward the red side.

I can also use Exposure’s white balance color picker. It sets a point in my image that will become the neutral color for the white balance. A good place to choose is a white area, like on the teeth or eyes.

I like the exposure in the portrait shot, but the landscape could be a little brighter. So I’ll adjust the exposure with F, and the Alt and F key combo for fine-level increases. I’ll also bump up the contrast a bit, to give the landscape a little more dimension and impact.

Now I’ll do a before and after comparison of both images by holding down the backslash key.

Let’s make some adjustments to the darker areas in the image. It’s a good idea to adjust the shadows first, to recover or enhance shadow details. Then use the Blacks slider to make adjustments to the darkest areas.

In case of any clipping in my original RAW file, where detail has been lost in the darkest part of your photo, it’s a good idea to set the Blacks slider to to the point just before the detail is lost.

There’s another way to make these changes, that’s in Exposure’s Histogram. The histogram shows me at a glance if there’s any clipping, or lost detail, anywhere in my image. Here, I can see I’ve got some overexposed highlights. I simply drag that region in the histogram to fix it. Notice that the corresponding slider in the Basic panel is adjusted. This helps make editing even easier.

Next I’m going bump up the clarity to make the landscape a little more vivid. I’ll use the O and P keys to adjust the value up to where I like it.

Another great way to enhance my images is to boost vibrance and saturation.

I’ll start with vibrance because it controls the intensity of the more subtle or muted colors, without adjusting colors that are already strong. It’s a good choice when adjusting skin tones. See how well it works on the portrait shot.

If I wanted to intensify all the colors in the photo, I could go straight to saturation. I’ll do that here with the landscape to bring out the reflections and the sky.

I’ll press the backslash key to show you a before/after comparison of the landscape. You can see how it pops more than it did straight out of the camera.

If an image seems a little soft or noisy, I can adjust that in the Detail panel. I’m going to sharpen the landscape image just a bit.

I’ll zoom in to 100% or 1:1, so I can accurately see how my sharpening adjustments will look. I’ll use the navigator panel to move to a place in my image where I can see the sharpening in action. I pick a small detail with hard edges as my focus, since that best shows me any sharpening adjustments.

Temporarily moving the Amount slider to the maximum amount is helpful since it lets me easily see the results in the Radius, Detail, and Masking sliders.

The Alt key is really handy when sharpening. Holding it down shows you a real-time visualization of your adjustments. I’ll show you what I mean by holding it down while I adjust the radius. I can easily preview the sharpening area around each edge in my image.

Next I’ll adjust the detail to control how much textures like stones and reflections in the water are boosted, as well as grain.

Lastly, I’ll tweak the masking to control how much contrast there needs to be between colors for them to be sharpened. I’ll choose a higher amount if I want to sharpen only higher contrast areas, or a lower amount if I want to include lower contrast areas. I’m holding down the Alt key for that real-time visualization. As a final step, I’ll adjust the amount slider to taste.

Now I’m finished making basic edits. I’ll compare the edited versions to my original RAW files using the Before/After view.

The edited versions have more impact, don’t you think?

One nice thing is Exposure is that any edits you make in the Basic and Detail panels remain unchanged when you apply presets, so you can edit in these panels right at the start of your workflow if you want, without later losing them when you apply presets.