Monday, March 19, 2012


There is a quality setting on DSLR cameras called RAW.  Simplified, this is a setting that takes in much more information about a picture than normal settings or JPEGs.  This file is about four times the size of a JPEG image.  The benefits are many.  When you pull the file into software, in my case, Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, you have almost complete control over the image.  Other than correcting a blurry picture, you have the ability to correct a lot of elements:  White Balance, Exposure, Contrast, Brightness, etc., etc.  With this control, you can really save any picture from almost great, to downright awful.

I went back out to Breckenridge Park in Richardson, TX a few nights ago after work to get some shots.  By the time I got there, the sun was pretty much gone.  Prior to then, I had tried shooting in RAW, but had never been able to convert the files back to JPEGs.  (JPEGs are the easiest file type to use, post production)  I decided this was a great time to finally learn.  I shot for about an hour in RAW with the understanding that if I could not figure out how to convert the files, I would have wasted my time.

I went home and figured out how to convert the files and I was pleasantly surprised.   I still have a ways to go in perfecting the fine tuning, but as you'll see below, the benefits of shooting in RAW speak for themselves.  Now, a bit of a warning.  I can't vouch for the composition of the pictures.  It's kind of hard to line up a picture in pitch blackness.  Other than that, please enjoy.

 These pictures were taken in virtually darkness.  The picture on the left is how it came out of the camera.  The picture on the right is after I processed it through Photoshop Elements.

As you can see, you have so much control to be able to take a ruined picture and with enough time and practice, make it look very nice.

There are many practical applications where shooting in RAW will help you.  The first is with high speed shooting.  I think back to when I was trying to take pictures of ducks flying.  I needed a fast shutter speed, but with a fast shutter speed comes less light hitting the sensor, resulting in a darker picture.  Shooting in JPEG, you sacrifice speed for light and end up with blurry pictures.  In RAW, you can speed up your shutter and be able to correct the exposure in Photoshop.

The second is with my cousin's wedding coming up this summer.  In July, chances are, the day will be very sunny.  With lots of light, you run the risk of losing details, particularly in the dress.  Also, when the reception moves indoors, you have to deal with often times, not so great lighting conditions.  Shooting in RAW will allow me to worry about shutter speed and composition to avoid blur and be able to fix color later.  Much of the shooting I have been doing over the last few months has been practice in preparation for my cousin's wedding.  I want to do the best I can for them.

So, that is my introduction of RAW shooting.  I hope that you've been able to see the excitement I felt with learning this application.

Until next time...

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