Using The Camera Raw Adjustment Tools

Using Adobe Camera Raw to make overall adjustments to a photo is a great way to improve images, but what about when you want to make an adjustment to just a small portion of the image? While the sliders in the right-hand sidebar adjust the entire image, the Camera Raw adjustment tools allows users to make more specific changes. Here’s what beginner’s need to know about Camera Raw adjustment tools.

In most versions of Adobe Camera Raw, the toolbar is located at the top, towards the left. There’s tools like the magnifying glass and hand that simply change how you view the images, but there are also a handful of tools that help you fine-tune your images with more than just those helpful sliders.

White Balance Tool

The white balance tool, which looks like a dropper that’s half full, allows for exact white balance adjustments. Select the tool, then simply click on an area of the photo that should be white. The program will balance the photo, with that colour you selected as reference for white. This method doesn’t work well for photos where there isn’t something that’s pure white, but it’s a quick, accurate tool for many images.

Targeted Adjustment Tool

Can’t find a way to adjust a specific shadow, highlight or mid-tone? The targeted adjustment tool allows you to click on an area of the photo, and drag to adjust. If you click on a mid-tone, for example, all the similar tones in the image will be affected. If you click and hold on the tool, a drop down menu will pop up, allowing you to select what changes you’d like to make with the targeted tool. The options are parametric curve (default), hue, saturation, luminance and grayscale mix. The Camera Raw targeted adjustment tool is an excellent way to fine tune your adjustments.

Crop and Straighten Tools

Sure, you can crop and straighten a JPEG just as well as a RAW file, but a crop and a straighten tool are included in Camera Raw, to help make editing simpler. If you plan to crop, applying this first will help as you make all the other edits with that final perspective in mind.

Spot Healing ToolSpot Healing Tool

The spot healing tool will select a specific part of the image and repair it by using another portion of the image for reference. It’s located in the toolbar and looks like a paintbrush with stars. There are two types, a healing brush where the program will assess the image and try to correct the area based on the reference point. Or, the clone option, which copies another area of the image exactly. You can use the radius slider to adjust the size of the spot tool, while the opacity slider can be used to make the effect semi-transparent. The spot healing tool is a great option for fixing dust spots on the sensor, or a blemish on a portrait.

Red Eye Tool

This one is self-explanatory—it’s for fixing red eye. By fixing the eyes in Raw, however, you can adjust the darkness of the pupil as well as the size of the tool.

Targeted Adjustment Brush

Want to adjust the exposure, colours or sharpness in just one portion of the image? That’s where the targeted adjustment brush comes in. This tool allows you to paint over the portion of the image you want to apply the adjustments to. Select the tool (it looks like a plain paintbrush), then the adjustment option pop up in the right-hand sidebar.

The top section on the sidebar contains adjustments that work much like the sliders for editing an entire Raw image. Options are for exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, clarity and sharpness. You can also select a colour, which will adjust the tone of where you