Last week, I said I would delve some into my experience with RAW images. If you have looked into reasons why shooting RAW is the way to go (in many cases, though not all*) if you want to achieve professional results with your photography.
Now I’d the first to say that I’m not a professional photographer. I’m using an older digital camera that is just a few steps away from one of those old Instamatic Polaroids and not even as convenient to use as newer ones because I still need to find someone to print my photos.
Left image ≠ right image, but they’re more similar than you might suspect.
But I do have some advantages too. With my G5, I have a full manual mode, allowing me to set my f-stops, ISO and shutter speeds. While I still usually use the automatic white balance, I have toyed with it in the manual mode, and I’m enjoying the flexibility of manual focus and being able to add specialized filters and macro lenses to my camera for different effects.
However, I’m starting to think that the best feature of my camera is the ability to shoot RAW images as well as jpeg files. If you’ve ever worked with film negatives before, you know how powerful a tool they are. I actually never used them myself, but I’ve seen the different ways a single negative can become a multitude of different images.
You can do this sort of processing with a RAW image a lot more precisely than you can a jpeg (although there are a lot of programs out there to help you with your jpegs too).
Now a RAW image pretty much is “meh” if you use a viewer (like Picassa) to see it. Booooring! Colors are washed out–the amazing reflected sunset we saw that night was just…well gone.
So I used RAWtherapee to tweak the white balance and saturation (as well as applied some noise reduction) as per this page (A Simple Workflow for RAW Processing) to get this:
It still needs work. A lot of work actually… But it’s a start.
I’m still learning all of this stuff–in fact today was my first “close to successful” attempt to use RAWTherapee for processing my RAW images. I was taking them all this time, without being able to really use them, because I knew someday I would.
I need to decide if I want to pay for a Photoshop subscription for further editing, so I just applied a few finishing touches in Picassa to the second image for this final result. I like it. I think it’s a pretty cool tree too.
* There is a movement (in part because of the direction camera manufacturers are taking in their technology) that advocates using the built-in camera jpeg format as opposed to the more work-heavy RAW processing. My own camera does OK with jpegs, but its 5MP limitation and the blue-haze it edges things with often make RAW mode work a necessity. Look at both sides of the RAW/jpeg debate and choose for yourself–it’s still worth considering despite changes in the technology. What’s the worst that could happen? You learn something new to try later. 🙂