Why should I shoot in RAW? What’s the BIG deal?

I’ve always heard about the power of shooting in the RAW format (for photos).  As far as I know, only DSLRs are able to do this. So if you have a DSLR and you’re not shooting RAW, shame on you!

I thought I’d share a real world example of why it’s good to shoot in RAW. Yes, every image you shoot in RAW has to be processed before it’s viewable and useable. Yes, this can be and is time consuming. BUT, if you’re off your game and the image is a little over exposed/under exposed or the wrong color temp., those are totally fixable if you shot RAW. If  you shot only JPEG, well, you’re screwed! Enjoy whatcha got!

This first image is the RAW conversion with no adjustments (opened up in Photoshop, saved as a JPEG). Having a window in your shot is never a pleasant experience. What do you expose for? If  you expose for the inside, the outside looks like a nuclear explosion happened just as the shutter closed. In a perfect world, you’d treat the window with ND and CTO… but that ain’t happening! That’s where RAW can really save the day.

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This second image is the corrected/adjusted RAW image of the same scene. Notice that you can now see the hand rail just outside the window and now you can really see what the items in the foreground are. The handrail is really not that important, but the fact that you can now see it is amazing to me! I’ve corrected the image and done some lens correction (lens correction doesn’t affect the level or color, just the shape).

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Here are the settings/adjustments I used to save this image from utter darkness (litterally). I just wanted to show all the parameters you can tweak. The first image is the image levels/color adjustment and the second one is the lens correction. CS4 doesn’t have the same lens correction settings (there are no presets). I’m not sure what Photoshop Elements has.

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I haven’t gotten into Adobe’s Lightroom yet, that’s my next quest. From what many of my photographer friends have told me, it’s much better and more powerful and easier to use than Photoshop.

To beat a dead horse here, if you have a DSLR, SHOOT RAW!

It will be worth it one day!

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On a totally geeky side note, if you’ve ever heard about or read about films that were shot with the RED camera, this camera shoots video (digital film if you will) in the RAW format. The RED One was the first version, now there’s several available. A few years ago, I got the pleasure of playing with some shots. The shots themselves were terrible looking, at first. There was no contrast, the color temp was way off, and the images looked totally blown out. I was not impressed. Then…. THEN I processed the footage in similar fashion to what I’ve done in Photoshop with RAW photos, and BAM! What I had was incredible! The difference was amazing. The RED One came way before the DSLR “film” craze that’s still with us. Anyway, just thought I’d share a geeky nugget with you… whoever you are!

Nope, not the Walton’s house.

I pass this house every day on my way to and from work. I’m not sure if anyone lives in it… I would guess and say no, but you never know!

I used 3 exposures, -2, 0, +2, and combined them and tone mapped them using Photomatix. Topaz denoise and Topaz Lens Effects were also used. The color (or lack of) was created using Photoshop’s “Vibrance” adjustment, taking saturation down and turning up the vibrance.

 

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Flickr

So I joined Flickr a while back. I’ve been posting new stuff at least once a week, sometimes two or three times a week. I LOVE me some flickr. Such cool stuff from all over the world! It frustrates me that there aren’t that many cool places around here to shoot cool stuff. I really like water, reflections, clouds, ocean surf, that kind of stuff. Winter is pretty much here too, so that makes things even worse. Snow is cool, so maybe we’ll get some of that this year.

If you’re interested in checking me out on flickr (like anyone ever reads this crap) here’s a link:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/hoovdaddy/

Here’s one of my new favorites that I took on Black Friday as I was on my way to find a few things. This was taken in my home town of High Point NC. There’s not much there these days it seems. The Furniture Market is still there and that’s a big part of the local economy. But like most places, there’s lots of abandoned buildings, overgrown grassy parking lots, even the mall is practically gone. Anyway, back to the photo… this is the train depot. I don’t think I’ve ever been here. Hard to believe I lived in HP all my life and never went down to the depot (at least I can’t remember ever going – which isn’t saying much since I can’t remember much anyway!) I shot 3 RAW exposures with a tripod,  merged and processed them in Photomatix, took it into Photoshop and did some levels, and chroma work, oh, and I use Topaz Denoise to clean up any noise. With this version, I treated it a little extra with some textures from Skeletal Mess (he’s on flickr). I think it’s cool. It’s funny though, how as a TV guy and now a hobbyist photo guy I try so hard to get images as clean and crisp as possible, only to turn around and “gunk” them up. It’s called art… I guess.

 

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