Friday, 28 January 2011

Why shooting in RAW is worthwhile

Whale Beach afternoon , originally uploaded by Adriana Glackin.

Last week I met up with a fellow photographer friend of mine, Matt Penfold, and we spent a couple of hours clambering over the rocks at Whale Beach on Sydney’s northside. While it was more an exercise to check out a possible sunrise location, the tide was just right for some interesting seascape shots. The problem was the lighting, with the sun still being a little too bright and the shadows just that little bit too long and dark. Using ND filters certainly helped, but if you’re like me and you use Cokin filters, then you would have noticed the unsightly colour caste created when stacking two or more filters; a colour caste that does nothing for the image unfortunately.

This is where it’s really handy to shoot using RAW and not just jpeg. I actually shoot both; I use jpeg as my proof and I edit using the RAW file. The RAW file is considerably bigger and contains the complete image file as captured by the camera sensor and unedited by the camera software. I managed to “rescue” this seascape image from the trash thanks to having shot using RAW. Had I only shot using jpeg, I don’t know that I would have been able to rid the image of the murky muddy purple caste in the sky. Instead, using ACR and making adjustments to hue, saturation, colour temperature, levels and curves, I was able to eliminate the muddy purple hue in the sky and enhance the afternoon warmth instead.

One book that you might find handy is the Focus Guide Photoshop: Get More From RAW. I switched to RAW when I bought my first DSLR and I used this book to familiarise myself with ACR. Now, I do much of my editing in this format. The guide is easy to follow and is suitable for both PS and Elements versions. I’m not sure if this book is still available new, but it would certainly be available in second hand book stores and of course online.

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