How and why, shooting RAW photography
Shooting in RAW may seem really daunting, but it’s not that bad at all and it will actually help you produce better photographs in the long run. If you are doing any kind of work on your photographs in a program such as Lightroom, capture one, DxO OpticsPro, or one of the other great processing programs, then you might as well be shooting in RAW.
These are the benefits:
More latitude in post processing
If you’re slightly out on the exposure, there’s much more information in the RAW file so you will be able to bring it back to what you wanted in the first place, recover highlights and recover shadows
You control the sharpness, and push it further.
You don’t have to worry too much about white balance
It has a ton of information when it comes to white balance. I tend to set it to what I think it should be (unless I’m filming) and then tweak it afterwards.
All in all you’ll be separating the photographing and editing so you’ll end up with better photographs. When you shoot Jpegs – the camera tends to do all the sharpening, colour profiling, etc for you so you lose that ability to change things after the fact. In RAW, you shoot the photograph….as long as it is in focus, there’s no motion blur (unless that’s what you want), and the exposure is almost there, you can then take this RAW file and process it to make it shine!!
The files are pretty big, so you will need plenty of hard drive space. I’d recommend getting an external hard drive to back up your images on.
You have to post process
Nowadays people use filters, tweak their settings, etc. so you might as well learn to do it properly and get the most out of your image.
You have to have a computer or tablet to process the files
This is one of the things with photography, you do need a computer or now with the introduction of Lightroom CC a tablet to process your images well. But at least you don’t need a darkroom and tubs of chemicals!!
You need to know Lightroom or capture one or similar program to develop the photographs
Once you get a program like Lightroom, you do have to learn how to use it. The best way to do this is to just use it, and the best way to do that is to just go out and shoot.
I use Lightroom and have done for a while now. It’s a great program and works really well with photoshop which is a photo editing beast! If you don’t have Lightroom and want to start shooting in RAW, you can download the trial version from the link in the description.
If you’re not sure whether you want to invest in Lightroom, remember, editing is half the process. If you’ve spent all of this money on your camera gear, you might as well spend some money in getting the most out of your camera. You wouldn’t buy a sports car and just keep it in comfort mode would you…….well I wouldn’t!
So I want to squeeze the most quality I possibly can out of my camera gear….and shooting in RAW is the key to this.
If you shoot Jpegs and you process your images in Lightroom or similar software, you might as well shoot in RAW. The latitude in editing that you will get is so much greater that you will be able to push and pull your images around so much more to get them looking how you want.
If storage and file size is a problem, Memory is so cheap these days so having an extra hard drive for your images is not so expensive any more.
You can even shoot both Jpeg and RAW images (most cameras have the ability to store both) if you’re unsure.
And this is the process:
Set your camera to RAW
Shoot as you normally would.
Then when you bring your images into your computer, import them into lightroom or which ever bit of software you are using, organise them into their appropriate catalogues and then start editing them with the develop module.
The image may start off looking flatter than you’re used to, but with a little practice, with the sliders in Lightroom, you can really make your images pop.
As you can see here, I have an image I shot as a Jpeg, and then I shot in RAW. If I adjust the sliders on the RAW file to bring back the highlights and boost the shadows, and then copy these setting across to the Jpeg, the Jpeg looks pretty bad. Also, I have shot this second image with the wrong white balance, again, I will make the adjustments to the RAW file and then sync them across to the Jpeg.
Also, If the conditions are similar throughout your photographs, you can process one image and then sync these settings to all of the other images.
Basically there’s not much to it, it’s just a case of taking the plunge and adapting your workflow to suit the new format. Then getting out there and taking photographs….and I always say this, the only way you’ll get better is to keep shooting!
So here’s a challenge, try Shooting in RAW for a month, get out and shoot at least once a week if not more and process those images as soon as you get home or maybe after a cup of tea and let me know how you get on! If you have any issues or if you have any questions leave a comment below or email me. It would be great to help you through this process to get better images.
And that’s about it, don’t be discouraged if your photos look flat, just do some research on editing your photographs in Lightroom and you’ll be set.
If you have any other tips on shooting in RAW, comment below or drop me an email, it would be great to hear your ideas.