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RAW creativity: Working with Snapshots in Camera Raw

Camera Raw — either in Bridge or Photoshop — is my favorite RAW processor. If it only had virtual copies to explore effects as Lightroom Classic does. Well, there are Camera Raw snapshots. What are they?

Every adjustment made in Camera Raw can be captured with individual snapshots. This makes it easy to compare color variations, different crops and even transforms and masks! It’s super simple to use. Here’s how.

Creating a Snapshot

Open a photograph in Camera Raw. This works on RAW files, TIFFs and JPEGs, too. Click the Snapshot icon.

Using Snapshots dialog in Camera Raw
Find snapshots in two places in Camera Raw.

Next, click the new snapshot icon and name the snapshot. Another way is to click the three-dot menu and select Create Snapshot.

Name the image out of the camera “01-Original.” This is the starting place for every other version.

Refine the photo

Make a new snapshot for each version.

Screenshot of the Snapshots panel shows the original plus the cropped and face brightened versions.
Each version is shown in the Snapshots panel

The original camera photo needed cropping. Afterward, I used a Radial Mask to brighten the model’s face. Here are the original, the cropped version and the one with the brighter face.

Now it’s time to play!

Here’s the place to experiment. Explore the different panels in Camera Raw. For this series, I used the Color Mixer for color changes. Then I went crazy with Dehaze and Clarity then back to Color Mixer to change the blue around the model to purple.

I took a snapshot of each version. I named each one with a beginning 2-digit number followed by a brief description. Then I made more versions.

Saving versions

Camera Raw has a Save As icon in the filmstrip that shows while hovering over a preview. Right-clicking opens a contextual window with a Save As option.

Two photos previews showing in the Camera Raw filmstrip
Hover over a preview to reveal the Save As icon.

Using the snapshot’s name

I make individual photos out of each snapshot that I review to pick my favorite. The file name and the snapshot description for each photo tell which version I want to use. Here’s how to make that happen without retyping the snapshot name.

Open the Snapshot window. Choose the version by clicking on it. Right-click and select Rename Snapshot. It appears with the original name highlighted. Copy the name to the clipboard by typing Cmd + C (Ctrl + C on Windows).

The Camera Raw Snapshot dialog with the contextual menu.
Choose the Rename Snapshot option, then copy the name.

Click the Save As icon in the preview in the film strip. In the dialog under file naming, add a dash in the window under the Document Name menu then paste the snapshot name by pressing Cmd + V (Ctrl + V on Windows).

Add the snapshot's name to the document name in the Save as... dialog
Add a dash then paste the snapshot name into the File Naming section.

Click Save. Repeat for each snapshot you want to see as a photo. I put them into a window in Bridge to compare.

Tip: When viewing in Bridge, tap the space bar to view a full-screen version. Select up to four images then press Cmd + B (Ctrl + B on Windows) to see them side-by-side.

Three snapshot versions displayed side-by-side in Adobe Bridge
Cmd + B (Ctrl + B on Windows) displays three selected photos side-by-side.

Three more versions

Play: The key to creativity

Play is important for all photographers. Play with focal lengths, light, color and ideas for the image. Explore the possibilities available in Camera Raw (or Lightroom) to express variations of your vision.

Have fun!

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Rafael Jones

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