The elements raw feature in Photoshop Elements allows you to easily
process pictures that were shot in raw format.
For the most part, raw files come from DSLR cameras however there are a
few high end point and shoot cameras that will create raw files.
A raw file can be thought of as a digital
negative, that is, no
in-camera processing has been performed on the file - it's the raw
information that you saw when you looked through the viewfinder.
When a picture is shot as a jpeg file then some in-camera processing
Things such as sharpness, white balance, contrast, saturation and some
level of compression are typically applied to jpeg files in-camera
which means you've lost control at this point. You can still mess
with some of the adjustments but not all of them can be modified back
to the original information.
With a raw file none of these adjustments are applied - what you see is
what you get. As a result the raw files are huge because of the
enormous amount of information they contain.
In truth, a smaller jpeg file is typically fine for most situations but
if you've got a camera that shoots raw and you have to ability to work
with the elements raw feature then give it a go - you may well love the
When you double click on an Elements Raw file in Adobe Bridge this is
the screen that loads.
It's a substantial screen so let's take a look at it in more detail.
Across the top at the left are the tools including ...
Red Eye Brush.
Rotate Image buttons (left and right).
These are pretty much the standard tools you use in Elements.
Also at the top of the screen above the image preview are the Preview
Check box and the Minimize button.
Along the bottom of the preview window are ...
File Name (n the middle).
Save Image Button.
Bit Depth Selector.
As well as the standard image buttons that can be modified with the Alt
Cancel (becomes the Reset Button when the Alt key is
Open Image (becomes Open Copy when the Alt key is pressed).
Elements Raw Screen
This is where the magic happens with your Elements Raw files.
At the very top of the screen is the image Histogram with two little
up-facing arrows. When the little
up-facing arrows are each clicked then the clipped areas of the image
will be highlighted.
Clipping occurs when either the shadows or highlights are either too
dark (shadows) or too bright (highlights) to contain any
The left one will show the shadows that have been clipped and the right
one will show the highlight areas that have been clipped. You
know when they are active because there is a little box around each of
the up-facing arrows.
The clipping will show on the image ...
Clipped Shadows will be blue.
Clipped highlights will be red.
Here's the image once again with clipping easy to see ...
More on this later when we discuss how to fix clipping.
There are three tabs across the top of the Adjustment Slider ares -
Basic, Detail and Camera Calibration.
Elements Raw Screen
This one contains most of the adjustment sliders. The top ones
have to do with White Balance. If all is well then just leave
these ones alone.
If not then drop down the list or move the slider to correct White
This slider adjusts the brightness of the image. When the slider
is move to +1.50 it is similar to increasing the size of your camera
f-stop by 1.5 stops.
If you hold the ALT key down while adjusting the slider then areas that
are clipped will show up as colors that conform to the color channels.
When the little highlight triangle in the histogram is clicked then any
clipped highlights will show up as red in the preview.
The Recovery slider will attempt to recover some details from the
Likewise, with the shadow triangle in the histogram clicked, then any
clipped areas in the shadows will show up as blue in the preview window.
Moving the slider to the right will lighten the shadows (similar to
adjusting the shadow slider in Shadows/Highlights in the Elements
editor). Another analogy is the results are similar to using a
fill flash when the picture is taken.
This slider specifies which input levels are mapped to black.
Try it - that's all you need to do.
This is similar to using the Exposure slider. Instead of clipping
the image, this slider compresses the highlights and expands the
shadows as the slider is move to the right.
In general, Adobe recommends adjusting the brightness after setting the
white and black clipping points with the exposure slider.
This slider adjusts the midtone contrast in the image. It is
generally best to adjust contrast after setting the previously
The last three sliders (Clarity,
Vibrance and Saturation)
are at the bottom of the basic screen.
This one sharpens the clarity of edges in the image and helps restore
detail and sharpness that may have been lost in some of the previous
This slider adjusts the saturation to minimize clipping as the
colors approach full saturation. It changes the lower-saturated
colors while minimizing the effect on higher saturated colors.
It also prevents skin tones from becoming over saturated.
This adjusts the image for -100 (monochrome) to full saturation +100.
Elements Raw Screen
The Detail Tab is used for Sharpening and Noise Reduction.
This section enhances the definition of the edges in an image.
The Zoom Level must be at 100% to see the effect of the sliders.
This adjusts edge definition - a value of 0 turns off sharpening.
Select a low value for clean images - or simply adjust until you like
This slider adjust the size of the details to which sharpening is
applied - kind of difficult to get your head around that one.
Use this one until you like the results as well.
These are getting more confusing as the list goes on - this slider
adjusts how much high-frequency information is sharpened in the image
and how much the process emphasizes the edges.
The slider controls an edge mask. At 0 everything is sharpened by
the same amount and at a setting of 10000 sharpening is mostly near the
Adjusts the color saturation from -100 (monochrome) to +100 (double
Adjusts greyscale noise.
Adjusts chroma noise.
Elements Raw Screen
Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) uses profiles to process raw images. This
tab lets you select which profile to use and there are three choices
ACR 4.4 (newer and improved profiles_
I just leave mine on Adobe Standard and changing the profile doesn't
seem to do much of anything.
Once you work through the Elements adjustments you have a number of
different choices ...
Save the file as a modified Raw file (click the Done
Save the file in another format (Save Image ...).
Open the image in Elements (Open Image).
Press and hold the ALT key to Reset the adjustments, or
Press and hold the ALT key to Open a Copy of the image..
When the file is saved in Adobe Bridge it will show the adjustments
that were made in the Elements raw screen. The great thing is
that all of the adjustments that were made in Adobe Camera Raw can be
removed and the file reverted to it's original state.
Here is an original file and a saved copy after doing the adjustments
In the top right corner of the adjusted image is a little circle thing
(outlined in red)
- the little circle thing means that some adjustments have been applied
to the raw file.
If you decided at some point that you are not happy with the
adjustments then right click on the image with the little circle,
scroll down to Develop Settings and then down to Clear Settings.
This will remove all of the adjustments you've done - one of the really
cool advantages of using Raw files.
Once the elements raw editing is done you can open the file in the
full version of Photoshop Elements by clicking Open Image and then you can use any
If the Depth in the Elements raw editor was set to 8 bits then all of
the adjustments are available right away.
If the Depth in the Elements raw editor was set to 16 bits then some of
the adjustments will not be available until the bit depth is lowered to
8 bits (Image > Mode > 8
Bits/Channel). This could drive you crazy until you figure
it out - I know because it drove me crazy until I figured it out.
You can also set the bit depth to 8 bits in the elements raw editor
with the drop down selector before the image is loaded into Photoshop
And here's the picture after the adjustments done with the Adobe Raw