phill @

RAW Image Editing How To Guide

Discovering North Yorkshire through Photography and Video

Raw Image Editing How To Guide. So we have a collection of photos that we want to develop using a RAW image editor such as Lightroom or perhaps the editor that we received with our digital camera.

RAW and JPG – Unprocessed and Processed

RAW Image Editing How to Guide

The important point to remember when shooting in RAW format is that a RAW file is an image that is not developed. When you shoot in jpeg format, the camera is developing that RAW date in the image for you, and renders the image on how it perceives to be the best way. This can be a little risky allowing the camera to make these decisions and it also lacks creativity. A RAW file is much larger than a jpeg because it contains all the data the camera collected when taking the shot. So remember, a RAW image is unprocessed and a jpeg is a developed image. A RAW file can be modified by the photographer much more deeply than a jpeg can. When a RAW image has been finely tuned to the way we want it, we can then export it to a much smaller jpeg file.

Colour Space

RAW Image Editing How to Guide

We firstly need to decide which Work Colour Space we are going to use. Most cameras will allow you to select the colour space from the menu. Standard RGB is best for web use but is limited in its range of colours available. Adobe RGB has a wider range of colour and your image will look more vibrant. Many photographers use Wide Gamut because it too contains a wide range of colours making your image quite vibrant and these colours are able to be printed. Pro-Photo RGB will return the best colours but the image will very limited in its use. This is because the colours are unable to be printed and may not be efficient enough to use in a web page. Are you intending to print out this image or display it online? Or perhaps the image is only to be viewed on a screen? Well the answer to these questions will determine which colour space to use.

Editing Your RAW Image to Create a Perfect Shot

RAW Image Editing How to Guide

White Balance

White Balance is the colour temperature that coincides with our scene. Interestingly, it is measured in kelvin. However, more simply we can select the cameras range of installed white balance methods such as Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash and so on. What we are talking about however is how warm or cool the colours are to be presented. We mention a sunrise or sunset looks fantastic with the use of the Shade setting, as it adds warmth. On a bright sunny day, daylight maintains the blue/cooler looking colours that marry up with the environment. It all depends on the scene when it comes to deciding white balance and image temperature. Try to avoid using auto white balance and try to develop the habit of adjusting the white balance for each shot. If you it looks wrong, don’t forget that with a RAW image you can adjust the white balance in the editing software.

Adjusting Contrast

RAW Image Editing How to Guide

Most of us understand how sharpness works when we adjust the picture quality on our TV. It is interesting that we mention contrast in this way, because the way we have our picture settings on our television at home is often to our own personal taste. The same is true with photography. High contrast will contain bright highlights (the bright elements) and also retain dark shadows (the dark elements) in your photo. Bold colours as well as texture will also be emphasised. However, in low contrast images, there is a narrow range of tones leaving the image looking flat or dull. I paint a bad picture of low contrast, and oftentimes you wouldn’t employ it, yet there may be occasions when it will benefit the style of an image. You can attain the correct contrast for the image by moving the slider left and right, the right side being the stronger contrast.

Adjusting Brightness

RAW Image Editing How to Guide

Again, you are more than likely familiar with brightness when you set up the picture quality on your TV set. Additionally, it can be personal preference just as much in photography as it is on your television. However, brightness in photography can also be employed to achieve a particular effect too. Moving the slider to the left will make the image darker and moving it to the right will increase the brightness. How much so will depend on the scene and the effect you are engaging to achieve.

Basic Photo Editing Features
Basic Photo Editing Features on the right of the screen (refer to below)

Adjusting Shadows

RAW Image Editing How to Guide

The shadows in photography are the darkest parts of the image, typically and literally shadows that we capture in our image. When we move the slider to the right, the shadows are less prominent, removing the darkness from a photo and giving it a completely different look. How much you adjust shadows in an image, again lies in the eye of the beholder, in other words personal taste. Having said that, if you are trying to achieve a particular look and style in your image, you may desire to adjust it accordingly.

Adjusting Highlights

RAW Image Editing How to Guide

Highlights is simply the opposite of Shadows. They are the bright points, normally created by illumination such as the sun, bright sky, bright electric lighting and other sources. If you can imagine for a moment, a woodland scene. The trees create shadows whereas the sky is often very bright, especially in strong summer sunlight. This can make the shot look unappealing, but if you reduce the shadows appropriately, and then the highlights, you can attain a much better looking image. So the slider reduces or even increases the brightest parts of your image.

Adjusting Colour Tone

RAW Image Editing How to Guide

Colour tone is a range of colours that are associated with the original colour. So moving the slider left or right may change the appearance of your image in terms of colour. For example, moving the slider to the left will make the image more reddish whereas moving the slider to the right will render the image more yellowish.

Adjusting Saturation

RAW Image Editing How to Guide

Colour Saturation is basically the intensity of colour brought out in your image. Moving the slider left will reduce the intensity of colour, even rendering the image monochrome. Moving it right will increase the intensity of colour making the image far more vibrant. This setting can help you create some interesting styles for your images.

Adjusting Sharpness

RAW Image Editing How to Guide

When we talk about sharpness in photography, we are talking about overall clarity. This can include fine detail, contrast, texture and even focus. However, you may jump to the conclusion that if we remove the slider right to its fullest extent, we are going to receive the best image possible. Well, not really. You see there is something else to consider here, because moving the slider too far will create a noisy photograph. Noise is a photographers worst enemy. Therefore, use this feature moderately and appropriate to the scene.

Adjusting Colours

RAW Image Editing How to Guide

With most image editing software there will be a tab where you can adjust an individual range of colours such as red, orange, yellow, green, aqua, blue, purple and magenta. You will also notice that each colour range has 3 sliders for Hue, Saturation as well as Luminance. Let’s take each at a time.

Editing a photo's individual colour ranges
Editing a photo’s individual colour ranges (see below)


Hue is the aspect of colour such as red, yellow etc. So if we wanted to eliminate or reduce Blue out of our image, we would move the slider left.


We have already touched on saturation and the same applies here. The only difference is that we can adjust the saturation (intensity of colour) for each colour range. In other words, if we wanted to increase the intensity of reds in a sunrise image, we can move the red saturation slider to the right.


Luminance is simply another word for brightness. If we want to make a particular range of colours brighter then we would move the slider right. Therefore, it is simply put the intensity of light emitted from a particular colour range in your photo. This should not be mistaken for overall brightness in an image.

Lear Key Camera Skills