Photoshop CS3 will be available soon, but before its release, you can download a relatively stable beta version from http://labs.adobe.com. I have been test–driving the new release and have seen some very exciting changes. I do not recommend using this release for production work, but it is a great way to test some of the new features.
The main enhancements and changes are a significant interface update (which takes a bit of time to get used to), support for Intel Macs (Universal Binary), big changes to the Bridge, improvements to Camera Raw, and other selection and colour correction tool enhancements.
There are a few areas in this upgrade that make me go “wow,” and one of them is the option to open a RGB, jpeg, or tiff directly into Adobe Camera Raw. I know, JPEG is not a raw format, but having the options and the power of this import filter is huge. Look at the image to the right, taken through a green–tinted window. To correct this using the tools in Photoshop would have taken me significantly longer and would not have turned out as well.
When I compare the images, one corrected in Camera Raw and the other in Photoshop, I see a few distinct differences: the amount of detail in the darker areas, the overall neutrality, the realism of the ski colour and the mountains, and the amount of pop are much improved in the Camera Raw correction. Not only that, but the correction was faster and more intuitive.
The great thing about using Camera Raw as opposed to opening an image directly into Photoshop is that you have a one–stop–apply–everything–in–one–move approach instead of making multiple hits on an image—the former approach translates into less destruction and image degradation. As well, there are adjustment tools available in Camera Raw that are not in Photoshop, such as lens vignetting, noise reduction during sharpening, advanced tone curves, and the ability to adjust images’ vibrancy rather than just their saturation. There is also the Auto option—it may not fix every image, but it is often a great start.
If your image has any grey, in it you can do a quick colour balance using the White Balance Tool (eye–dropper in the top left corner) and click on a grey area to adjust the grey balance. Fixing an image’s grey balance is like building a strong foundation for a house—everything depends on it.
So how do you access all these Camera Raw tricks? Simply open Photoshop CS3, select Open from the File menu, browse for the file to open, and change the image format to Camera Raw. Now the image will open in Camera Raw before coming into Photoshop, giving you all the options under the sun to fine tune your image.
The reason I really like working in Camera Raw is that all my adjustments are connected, enabling me to go back and forth between various methods without committing. You can also always see Highlight and Shadow clipping and a Histogram to ensure you are not losing information. It is also technically possible to do the above by using adjustment layers, which is certainly still an option.
I’m not advocating Camera Raw as a panacea, or saying that once you import the image from Camera Raw your work is complete. Rather, it is simply a better starting point with easier controls than Photoshop itself.
Angus Pady is the president of Digital Solutions. Complete colour control from desktop to press. T: 905.764.6003