RAW is a Headache
Shooting in RAW instead of JPEG can be a pain. Cameras are just so good at their automatic functions, that shooting in JPEG, as most of us do, is the best solution. JPEGs are usable immediately. RAW images need to be processed afterwards, to make them usable.
But shooting RAW can pay off, especially when shooting under difficult conditions!
I recently tutored a customer in the basic use of Adobe Camera RAW. ACR is the RAW processor that comes with Adobe Photoshop. Memento Press has produced many canvases from Robert’s impressive landscape & nature photography. Robert shoots RAW with his Nikon, but he wasn’t seeing any great benefit.
So he & I took a tour of Adobe Camera RAW (ACR), working on a few of his more-challenged files. He has plenty of experience using traditional Photoshop. But he had no idea what ACR could do for him, and how quickly.
In fact, ACR’s workflow & tools are so great, Adobe has added the ability for ACR to be applied to native JPEGs! These features would be instantly recognizable to Lightroom users.
OK, so why shoot RAW if you can use the great ACR tools on a JPEG? Very simply, JPEGs are a compromise, made on the fly by your camera’s relatively small brain, to save storage space. Even at maximum quality, some information will be lost by converting the raw pixel data from the sensor (aka RAW format) into the compressed JPEG format. A shot taken in RAW will have shadow & highlight detail that might be lost on the way to becoming a JPEG.
In the upcoming post, we’ll show how we exposed cloud detail in a landscape, when Robert thought the sky was completely blown out.
Robert has agreed to be interviewed for that future blog post. But while he’s off traveling for a few weeks, I thought you might find this before/after demonstration interesting.
You may have seen my earlier shots of the USS Iowa leaving San Francisco Bay for its permanent home as a museum in Los Angeles. Check out where one shot started, and where it ended up. Yes, it would have been nice if the old battleship had left San Francisco Bay during “the perfect light” (morning & evening). But we had to live with the haze we were handed.
In the first image, you might not even see the battleship at first glimpse!
Click On Image for Larger View
And here is where we arrived after about five minutes of work in ACR:
I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of each step in the recipe, but here’s an overview. This list provides a sense of what I did, and how long each step took.
1. Lens correction
– Eliminate distortion using lens profile
Time: 30 seconds
2. Level the horizon: yep, hand-holding a 400mm lens gets tiring!
– Use level tool
Time: 45 seconds
3. Set color temp: hooray, the whole battleship is neutral gray!
Time: 30 seconds
4. Fix Exposure & Contrast
– This histogram was incredibly clustered “in the middle”
– Spread it out using the “blacks”, exposure & brightness sliders
Time: 1.5 minutes
5. Add punch
– Using Clarity, Vibrance & Saturation sliders
Time: 45 Seconds
– Using ACR sharpening tools allows for better results than auto-sharpening in-camera
Time: 1 minute
7. Add Gradient Filters to add interest
– Gradient filter from top to high-center, low sharpness to full sharpness
– Gradient filter from bottom to low-center, low sharpness to full sharpness
Time: 1 minute
If you would like to learn more about Adobe Camera RAW, paying for a month of Lynda training (like $29) is well-worth it. Here is one course related to the latest version of ACR.
And you can always call us for a lesson! We can answer a quick question at no charge. Or you can enjoy a full hour of personal training for $105. You’ll be able to make all the changes demonstrated in this post by the end of your first hour! We can offer that training in-person, or via web meeting.
AND…you can always send your RAW images to us for processing. We are fast at it, and offer reasonable rates.
Excellent demonstration of the power of working with the raw image, Josh, thank you. The final is impressive to see (in print form in the shop), I would have never imagine the original was as you say, pretty much a ‘throw away’.