Home Photography Quick and easy photo editing using Photoshop Raw

Quick and easy photo editing using Photoshop Raw

November 13, 2016

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

Back in September I wrote a post about how I edit my iPhone photos using Snapseed and VSCO (you can find that post here), and I’ve been wanting to do a follow-up post ever since on how I edit my camera photos on my computer. I take almost all of my blog photos as well as a lot of my Instagram photos with an SLR or mirrorless camera, and I always start the editing process in Photoshop.

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

I’m definitely not an expert in Photoshop. I know of and use maybe 10% of the features. But I’ve edited a sh*t ton of photos in my life and this process is what I’ve settled on in the last year or so. This is a quick and easy way to edit photos on a laptop to make them bright and clean using Photoshop. If you don’t have Photoshop, they now offer a monthly subscription service – $10/month for both Lightroom and Photoshop – and I think that’s absolutely worth it for anyone taking loads of SLR photos. You can do so many amazing things with your photos using Photoshop – this little tutorial is just the tip of the iceberg!

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

[ Step 1 ] Open your photo in Photoshop Raw. Actually the first step should be “start shooting in RAW format” (read why here) but it’s not a necessity. If your photo is in RAW format, just open it in Photoshop like any other photo and the Raw Editor will pop up automatically. If you’ve got a jpeg, open your photo via the Open dialog, click the “Options” button at the bottom, and select “Camera Raw” under the Format dropdown.

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

[ Step 2 ] If your original photo is in RAW format, open the “Lens Correction” tab (the 6th icon on the right panel). Then select “Enable Profile Corrections”. This will fix lens problems such as distortion, vignetting, and perspective correction.

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

Notice the darker corners and borders in the left photo compared to the right photo. That’s the vignetting being removed.

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

[ Step 3 ] Navigate to the Transform panel (the 8th icon in the top menu) if you’ve got some perspective issues like I do here. My photo is somewhat rotated but I also took the photo closer to the right side of the crib than to the left and that created some horizontal skewing. Photoshop Raw has an amazing automatic transformation (works perfectly 80% of the time for me). If auto transform doesn’t work, the right-most button lets you draw your own guides (trace along lines that aren’t horizontal and vertical but should be horizontal or vertical).

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

Check out how the crib and framed art lines are all straight now in the right photo.

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

[ Step 4 ] Now it’s time to do the bulk of the editing! Go back to the Zoom panel (the first icon in the top menu) to edit exposure, white balance, etc. I start with everything below “Exposure” because I pretty much always use the same values for these properties (see the above screenshot for my usual numbers). I then up the exposure and go back to tweak the other numbers just a touch depending on the photo itself. Lastly I adjust white balance. Outdoor photos usually have pretty good white balance, but for most indoor photos I lower the temperature quite a bit (move the slider to the left) and make the tint a touch more pink (move the slider to the right).

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

The photo on the left is significantly brighter and cooler than the photo on the right. Blacks also pop out more and the colours are a little more vibrant.

Note: If you’re wondering why I lowered whites and highlights when I’m so pro-bright whites, it’s because brightening a photo with exposure is a much nicer way of achieving that clean, white look. You don’t get that over-exposed, overly contrasty look this way. Lowering whites and highlights and then compensating that darkening with upping the exposure a bit more makes whites more uniform, which makes them look cleaner (and less contrasty).

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

[ Step 5 ] I do a little further colour correction on most of my indoor photos via the “HSL / Grayscale” tab (the fourth icon). The whites are still a little blue and purple tinged in this photo so I lowered the saturation of those two colours. Since this particular photo has an aqua pillow and framed picture, lowering the blue desaturated those two items a little too much for my liking, so I upped the aqua to make up for it. Desaturating specific colours really depends on the photo and your subject. In my house I have hardly any yellows, greens, blues, or purples, so desaturating any of those colours usually works to get my whites desaturated to a truer white but the difference really is minimal. So feel free to skip this step, especially if you have a lot of colour in your photo. Like I said, the difference is hardly noticeable (but I’m a perfectionist when it comes to white haha).

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

The whites on the left are still blue-tinged vs. the left where whites are now more desaturated.

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

[ Step 6 ] If you want to brighten skin tones just a touch, up the oranges and yellows a bit in the “Luminance” tab.

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

It’s hard to tell since Nicolas is so small in this picture, but his skin is just a little brighter which gives him a nice, flattering glow.

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

[ Step 7 ] If you want to go a step further to brighten your whites, you can do so using the adjustment brush, like I did here to brighten the wall a touch more. The adjustment brush lets you paint on your picture and adjust individual properties of the painted surface (the part painted “red” in my picture). I upped the exposure and highlights a bit, lowered shadows and blacks to make sure any darks I accidentally painted didn’t brighten up, lowered saturation to further desaturate my wall, and lowered contrast a bit to make it a little more even.

Note: To be honest, I hardly ever do this. For blog photos I don’t feel the need to brighten the whites any further since that crisp, white look is more for my Instagram. And, for Instagram photos that I first edit in Photoshop, I’ll brighten the whites in Snapseed, which I find easier. (Tutorial for that here.)

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

The difference is really hard to see unless you overlay the images, but the crib rails are now a bit brighter as is the space above the crib.

And here it is again: the before and after. What do you think? What are your favourite ways to edit your photos and what filters do you use?

Quick and easy photo editing in Photoshop Raw

One last side note: I also get a lot of questions about what camera(s) I use. I answered that question in my recent Top 10 FAQs post. Here I’m using my Nikon full-frame SLR.

You might also like

16 comments

Linda November 15, 2016 at 2:15 pm

Wow. You call it simple but seems like you are putting in so much love and effort in making your pics perfect. Impressive!!

Reply
Sina December 19, 2016 at 10:56 am

Thanks so much Linda! There’s definitely a big change happening but I promise it’s quick to do 🙂

Reply
Karolyn November 15, 2016 at 10:40 pm

Love your posts, Sina <3

Reply
Sina December 19, 2016 at 10:56 am

Oh I just saw this, Karolyn! Thank you, as always hun 🙂

Reply
Rae Brown January 29, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Does this work in Adobe photoshop CC too?

Reply
Sina January 29, 2017 at 11:50 pm

It absolutely should! Camera RAW is a Photoshop plugin that you can download here (if CC doesn’t automatically come with it):
https://helpx.adobe.com/camera-raw/kb/camera-raw-plug-in-installer.html

Reply
Vlora March 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Amazing information! I find myself super frustrated with this whole blogging thing, but you have a lot of great insight. Will definitely continue to check out your content!

Thank you!

Reply
Sina April 13, 2017 at 11:40 am

Hi Vlora, so sorry I’m just seeing your comment now! I’m glad my blogging / photography content is helping you and I completely get your frustration. Blogging can be so tough sometimes but hopefully more and more bloggers will share their experiences so it becomes a bit more of a transparent venture 🙂

Reply
Grace Darling April 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

You. Are. Amazing. This is an absolute game changer for me, please keep inspring and creating you rock !!!!!

Reply
Sina April 13, 2017 at 11:42 am

Thanks so much, Grace! I’m glad my post was helpful to you 🙂

Reply
Koren Schmedith May 18, 2017 at 6:20 am

Thanks for describing the processes step by step. You have made this to process to understand easier by adding the step by step process. This tutorial is perfect for the beginners.

Reply
Sina May 23, 2017 at 11:18 pm

You’re very welcome! Glad my post was helpful 🙂

Reply
Shauna May 24, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Is this the default setting for your photoshop? My layout is completely different and I can’t seem to find the same tools!

Reply
Sina June 17, 2017 at 6:35 am

Hi Shauna, are you using the RAW editor rather than photoshop itself? Also, what version of Photoshop do you have? I have the CC – I know they keep switching up the looks but I believe the RAW editor has had most of the same features for a while now.

Reply
Pilar July 3, 2017 at 3:10 pm

This is so good, thank you so much! The great thing is that these settings are all applicable in Lightroom as well, which I use! 🙂

Reply
Sina August 13, 2017 at 8:32 pm

Hi Pilar, so sorry I’m just responding now! That’s great that you can do this all in Lightroom. I started on Photoshop pre-Lightroom so have never really gotten into it but really need to give it a try since I keep hearing how easy it is and all the filters as well.
xx Sina

Reply

Leave a Comment