Set your camera to the combination of raw plus highest quality JPEG. This means that each shot will be saved twice- once in raw and also camera-processed as a JPEG. Plan and shoot three images in three different lighting situations. One should be in daylight, one in artificial lighting, and one high dynamic range. Open and process each pair of images, in your usual image processing software. In each case, take whatever opportunities are offered by the raw converter to make the best of the image.
Finally, compare the two versions of each scene. What differences, if any, do you see between the raw and JPEG?
I have never shot in RAW before, so this exercise was extremely useful! I only got my first DSLR at the start of this OCA course- and so never really knew much about RAW and always thought it was some extremely complicated setting that I could never use! I hope this exercise shows me the ease of using raw, and the advantages of it.
I had no idea of the benefits of shooting in raw, and so therefore before beginning this exercise I did a little research into the advantages of using raw on my camera. I found this great information in Ben Long’s book, “Getting Started with Camera Raw”, which explained it perfectly;
“If you shoot only in JPEG, then you may have already encountered the limitations of that format. Switching to raw may be the ideal solution for you if you’ve encountered any of these problems;
– You can’t get the colour in your images quite right. If you find that you can’t push and pull the colours in your images as far as you’d like, then shooting in raw may give you the additional editing latitude that you need.
– You want more exposure control. Precise controls of highlights and shadows is the goal of all photographers, and it’s much easier to achieve when shooting in raw.
– You frequently shoot in low light or in situations with lots of mixed lighting sources. The white balance controls offered by raw converters are ideal for getting accurate colour from these difficult shooting situations.
– You regularly crop and enlarge your images or print your images at very large sizes. You’ll prefer raw over JPEG for its lack of compression artifacts…” (1)
I chose to use snowdrops as my theme for this assignment. I shot them in three different lighting situations; Daylight, Artificial Light and High Dynamic Range. This was the first time I have shot in RAW. I set my camera to save the images in both RAW and JPEG; this was relatively straight forward. However, upon uploading the images to my laptop, I discovered that my Photoshop software didn’t contain a RAW converter! I then had to download a trial of a newer version- which I may have to purchase after experimenting with the greater freedom and control that RAW provides! Below are my three versions in JPEG and RAW.
Daylight: JPEG. I used an aperture of f10 as my tutor suggested that I should be using smaller apertures more often; as the camera’s prime aperture range is f7-f11. This has resulted in a beautifully detailed image. I wanted to ensure that I kept the softness of the flower whilst processing, as you will see in the edited image.
Daylight: RAW. I used Custom White Balance in my processing software in order to create my desired effect in this image. I warmed the image up a little bit by increasing saturation. I also recovered the shadows slightly in this image, and expected this to create a lot of noise; however I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the outcome, showing the high quality of raw files.
Artificial Light: JPEG. Again I took my tutor’s advice on board and used a smaller aperture than normal of f7.1. I used a higher ISO of 400 as I was indoors and still don’t have proper photographic lighting, so had to use a desk lamp. I think this image could have been much better with a fill in flash, which I intend to get in the near future! Photography is definitely an expensive interest to have!
Artificial Light: RAW. The slightly higher ISO of 400 created possibly a little noise when edited- but still far less than the equivalent JPEG file. I changed the White Balance setting from Auto to Shade to give the image a warmer feel. I also increased the contrast, saturation and clarity.
High Dynamic Range: JPEG. For this image I again used a good aperture of f7.1. I also used an ISO of 400. I captured this pretty snow drop in the studio on a dark background in order to create a high dynamic range scene.
High Dynamic Range: RAW. In the RAW file I wanted to darken the background slightly to produce a higher contrast image. Therefore I adjusted the shadows in processing to achieve this. I kept the WB settings as shot. I also adjusted the saturation, clarity and contrast slightly.
This exercise showed me how simple it is to shoot in RAW and I am now much more confident in working with the RAW setting on my camera.
(1) Long, Ben, Getting Started with Camera Raw (page 5)