The Double RAW Converting Technique

I really love to have to most detail as possible in my images. Especially when I am making a composite I need a lot of detail because in my workflow I will eventually loose a lot of detail.
To get the best results doing this we will need a RAW photo to start with. It will also work with JPG’s but the results are not as impressive.
In this tutorial I use this technique on a photo of a male model shot in the studio, but it also works great on other types of photographs like landscapes, etc.
This technique which I learned from Calvin Hollywood, will give you a great way to add detail to your images.

Step 1.
Open the RAW in photoshop as an smart object from lightroom or open it in Adobe Camera Raw and hold the shift key. The “Open Image” button now changes to “Open Object”. Click on it to open the file as a smart object.
Open Smart Object in Photoshop

Step 2.
In the layers panel you can see the smart object sign on the bottom right of the thumbnail of the image.
smart object thumbRight-click the layer and select “New Smart Object via Copy”. This will make another smart object of the same image. Do not just duplicate the layer because that way the next step won’t work.
The layers panel will look like this:
Two Smart ObjectsStep 3.
Now on the top layer, double click on the thumbnail itself. Don’t double click the layer text, just the icon. This will open the Adobe Camera Raw screen again. This is where the magic of this technique is done. Because we made a new copy of the smart-object we can adjust this new smart object with it’s own settings in Adobe Camera RAW.
– First drag the saturation slider all the way down to -100%.
The next settings depend on your image, but I usually adjust more or less around the same way, just with different numbers.
– I pull up the Clarity a lot. The Clarity will give way more detail and sharpness (I used 77).
– Next I pull down the contrast to compensate for the high amount of clarity (I used -16).
– The highlights I pull down and the shadows I pull up. Usually I pull up around the same amount for shadows as I pull down for highlight. In this particular case I pulled down the highlights a little more because the photo has a lot of highlights.( I used -64 for highlights and +53 for the shadows)
If the photo is a little over or underexposed I compensate a little with the white and black sliders. In this case that wasn’t necessary.
Settings Smart ObjectWhen you’re done click on OK.

Step 4.
Your image is now a nice black and white photo, so now we need to bring back the color by adjusting the blend mode of the black and white layer to “Luminosity”.
Blending mode Luninosity

As you can see this brings back the color. You might want to fine-tune now by again double clicking on the thumbnail if your not pleased yet.

The end result is a much sharper image with much more detail. Of course you can bring down the Opacity of the layer to bring down the effect on the image or use a layer-mask to add this technique to just part of the image.
Before & After the Double RAW Converting