Friday, December 15, 2017

Post-Processing - RAW

At the last meeting, the topic of RAW came up briefly, but was met with some interest by members who may take their photography to the next level -- professional use.
To be clear, I am a firm believer that 90% of all good photography is a function of being in the right place at the right time. The other 10% is due to experience and style.
But I would like to look more closely at that 10%. Of that 10%, 70% is photographic skill, while the remaining 30% can be attributed to POST-PROCESSING skill, aka "shopping" - using Photoshop or other post processing software.
So how do we explain all the great photography taken before the age of computers? Simple, there, the post-processing skill took place in the dark-room.
Perhaps one of the more famous and acclaimed photographers was Anselm Adams. No one has ever seen an Anselm Adams photo that wasn't  shopped. He just used chemicals, enlargers, and filters, to achieve the same results you can do today in your computer.
So what's all this about RAW?
Most digital cameras today will let you save your images in one or more digital image file types such as .jpg, .bmp, .gif, and a variety of files types known as RAW. By far, .jpg, is probably the best known and most convenient file type to use. But professional photographers more often than not prefer to use a RAW format, e.g., .nek, .crw, or cr2,  depending upon the brand of camera used.
The professional advantage of RAW is that it gives you more flexibility in the virtual dark-room (e.g., Elements, Photoshop, Light-Room).  While .jpg is a great format, it does have shortcomings. Those shortcomings actually allow it to be saved in a compact file format whereas RAW files contain more digital information about the image at the expense of file size. Where a .jpg might be 5 megabytes, the same image saved as RAW might be 25 megabytes. This is a serious consideration when you have to store those files on a card, stick, CDRW, or hard-drive. The larger files also take more time to process, which may affect how fast your camera can take additional photos, and how much time you spend in post-processing.
If all you do is aim-shoot-and-show your photos, stick with .jpg.
If you don't mind spending more time in the post-processing, you might like RAW.
After all  it's your hobby or vocation.
For those of you who want to learn more about RAW, I have put together a Post-Processing YouTube Library with several videos that explain the basics of RAW and things you can do with a RAW file. Just click this link to go to the online library:

You don't need to view them all, but start with 1 and 2, then poke around the others until you are bored ... or engrossed.

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