Photography in the RAW

Today's post is for photographers; professionals and hobbyist alike!

     Photographers; what's the first thing we did when we got our cameras? Learn our camera! That's what I did. I spent six months just learning how to shoot in manual! I took classes, I studied under other photographers and I asked questions whenever I could. I spent most nights falling asleep as I was reading hundreds of blogs and websites explaining manual. Once I understood it, then I spent the next six months practicing it. I would take the same photo ten times, adjusting the settings slightly with each image. I took pictures of anyone and anything I could get my hands on. Finally I understood it. After a year of submerging myself in all things photography I felt like my camera was a part of me. I could adjust my settings at a moment's notice to accommodate for my surroundings. Then I was comfortable announcing myself as a photographer and charging for my services. 

    BUT one thing has been bothering me for a long time. It is something that I am embarrassed to even admit. I shot only in JPEG and I was terrified of shooting RAW.  I have been researching the pros and cons of RAW vs. JPEG for a while. I understood it definitely had its benefits but I was terrified to try it. I finally decided to face my fears and just go for it! What a difference! I am SO glad I made the change! 

   For those that may not know, RAW is essentially the negative of an image. A RAW image captures all of the data with an image while JPEG condenses a lot of the data therefore it gets lost. Another big difference is you can simply upload or open your JPEG images into your software to edit them. RAW images are required to go through a processing stage first. Often the RAW images may look dull or even sub-par to the equivalent JPEG images at first; however, the processing period allows you to pull out any lost data creating a much more vivid and detailed finished product. I made a few examples just to stress the difference. This image was shot with a small aperture outside. These images were taken only seconds apart with the exact same settings. 

The one on the left is JPEG and the one on the right is RAW. Both of these images were edited the exact same in Photoshop. The details and the color on the right were a result of processing. 

    Here is another example. This was taken outside using a large aperture. Again, both pictures were taken seconds apart using the exact same settings. The difference is remarkable. 

These pictures were both edited the exact same in Photoshop but I was able to pull out such detail during processing. The results are pretty hard to argue with. 

One of the biggest benefits of shooting RAW is that it allows the photographer more of an opportunity to 'save' a picture that may have otherwise been un-savable. Here is an overexposed picture of lemons to show how easy it is to fix. 

   The first image is SOOC (straight out of camera). As you can see it is extremely washed out and pretty much unusable. The second image is a result of me uploading the image straight to Photoshop (skipping the processing step). I attempted to edit the picture as I normally would to "save" it. It is much better but still much underexposed. The third image is a result of processing it prior to Photoshop, What a difference! It is almost the perfect exposure, not to mention much more vivid and detailed. 

   Long story short, I am team RAW all the way! While JPEG definitely has it's time and place, I highly recommend RAW whenever possible. I cannot believe it has taken me this long to finally take the plunge, but I am so glad I did! 

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