Back to Basics: RAW

*A step-by-step guide to editing RAW in Elements.*


Reading the magazine, you might get the impression that if you're not shooting RAW files, you might as well not be shooting at all. Often enough, that's true. But what if you're new to DSLRs, or if you're not quite ready to commit to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or Photoshop CS4? You should just stick with JPEGs at first, right?

Wrong. RAW is much easier to work with than you think, and because the files contain so much information, they're actually easier (and thus more satisfying) to tweak and edit.

RAW files need to be converted before they can be printed, so it's more than likely that your PC doesn't recognize them as image files. The result: Windows won't automatically download them, and you need special software to convert them into JPEGs or TIFFs for sharing or printing. Sometimes it's more of a headache than it's worth to try to use the software that came with your camera or to download the right operating system updates to get your machine to work with them.

But there's an easy solution: Adobe Photoshop Elements. Get version 7.0 for Windows, and you'll be reaping the benefits of RAW in no time-no matter which DSLR you use. Check out the gallery for a step-by-step guide.

****Step 1: Put your memory card**** in your card reader as usual. When Windows opens with the choice of what to do with the items on the card, choose Organize and Edit using Elements 7.0.
******Step 2:** If you don't get a window**** when you put your card in, don't despair. Just open Elements 7.0 and pick the organizer from the welcome screen. Once there, go to File > Get Photos and Videos > From Camera or Card Reader. Click the button in the bottom left to get the Advanced Dialog. Choose your device, pick your photos, and fill in the blanks on the right.
****Step 3:** When your pictures** have been imported and you’ve found one you want to print or share, it’s time for the conversion process. Here’s where you take advantage of all of RAW’s power. Go to the Editor pull-down menu in the top-right corner of your screen, and choose Full Edit.
****Step 4:** Instead of bringing you** straight into the editor, Elements will take you into the RAW converter. Here, you can make adjustments to your image before going into the main Editor. Make all the edits you like—you can always open your RAW file again and redo it later. (Elements will always remember the last ones you did.)
****Step 5:** Because you're working** with a RAW file, you can get all kinds of detail out of your image that you didn't think was there. This shot was exposed for the sunset in the background, but a little tweak of the Blacks and the Fill Light brought the foreground detail right back. When you like your image, click the Open Image button.
****Step 6:** Now you’re back in the** familiar world of Elements. Here, you can do all your cloning and other retouching. You can print right from here, too, but to lock in your adjustments, you need to save the file as another type. Go to File > Save As and choose TIFF if you want to save without compressing it, or JPEG if you just want to e-mail it to a friend. Next time you want to work with that picture, open your edited version or go back to the RAW file to convert it in a whole new way.