Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Why I prefer RAW rather than JPEG

One of the big controversies, right now in photography is do you shoot in RAW or do you shoot in JPEG.  Also, if you do shoot in RAW do you also make a copy at the same time into JPEG.  So I going to give you my personal opinion.  When I first started into photography with a digital camera, I really did not understand the difference between the two formats.  As I have progressed in my learning, I have come to realize that there is a big difference in the two modalities.  To me JPEG is where you take the picture, the camera processes the picture and you go to the local store and print out your pictures.  RAW on the other hand is like taking a negative into the darkroom and utilizing all your adjustment tools that you have available to create what you feel the picture should be.  Since, when I export a picture that I created in RAW for use nowadays on the web, I can convert that picture into a JPEG, which now has all the adjustments I made to the RAW file.

Let me show you what I mean.  Here is a photograph of an eight point buck that I took earlier in the year.  It is a JPEG of the RAW file without any adjustments either in Lightroom or Photoshop.  To my eyes, the picture is pretty bland.
White-tailed Deer – Original

Now here is the same picture, which is a JPEG of the raw file that was converted into a TIFF file during my post-processing.  Originally I was happy with this picture, however, as I was reviewing older photographs, I re-looked at the picture that I had converted and was not happy.
White-tailed Deer – Original Edit

Now, if I had taken this picture only as a JPEG, it would been more difficult to re-create my original impression of what the photograph should be.  Since I had the original RAW file I was able to reprocess the photograph, utilizing first, Adobe Camera Raw in Lightroom, then exported the file to Photoshop, where first, I increased the canvas size to give me more room on the right side of the picture, use the magic wand to select the new area of the campus and utilized contents aware fill to to fill in the extended canvas.  Next I utilized the NIK software (each in their own layer), first Vivezia then Color Efex Pro 2-Detail Extractor, Tonal Contrast, and White Neutralizer, then adjusted each of the filters utilizing control points.  I saved what I had created as a TIFF file.  I then wanted to see how the picture would look with the edges vignetted, so I restarted and a new layer, Color Efex Pro 2 and selected the vigennting filter and applied the effect.  I then re-saved the image as a new TIFF file.

Here is the final results
White-tailed Deer – Final Edit
White-tailed Deer – Final with Vigennting