Why to shoot RAW

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Why to shoot RAW
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Image by Steffen M. Boelaars
Today I was making pictures of water. And today (as every day in this time of year in India) was a day with much much sun. This showed me once more that you really have to take pictures in RAW format, and I just wanted to show you that. If you have a camera that’s capable of doing RAW: USE IT!

When taking the pictures, my camera went very much to the limit of how fast it could do an exposure. I had the lens set to f/1.4 because I wanted only the middle fountain to be in focus. Looking on the LCD of the camera, the shots looked allright. Maybe a bit bright, but nothing the computer wouldn’t be able to fix when dealing with a JPG.
However, small LCD screens are misleading. The picture you see on the right is what I got when opening it on the computer.
I then took out the RAW (NEF) image and adjusted the settings in Adobe Camera Raw (Photoshop CS3 plugin) in the way you see under the image on the left, and see the result!
When shooting with JPG only, I would have lost all that details completely and the picture was basically a complete waste. Now I’ve got some pretty good shot I think. And I took about 150 pictures, so I’m pretty damn happy with the RAW’s!

Remember this the next time you start taking pictures: switch to RAW!

CRW 4001
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Image by thoughtfulbloke
In the Cactus House, Dunedin Botanic Gardens.

I am trying out the photoline image editing program at the moment and used it on this image. I teach photoshop in my day job and use GIMP at home, so in light of that, some key points about photoline:
-very unfreindly GUI: You really need to understand why image editing software works the way it does generally.
-can do almost everything in Adjustment layers: So far better adjustment layers than Photoshop or GIMP. This includes adjustments in LAB Channels on RGB images.
-can open my RAW images as 16 bit colour images without downsampling. This actually freaked me out a bit to start with. I’m used to having to apply the histogram etc right at the start.

The things I like about GIMP that Photoline doesn’t match:
-added noise reduction plugins that work really, really well

(I wouldn’t buy photoshop for myself, I don’t actually think there is a lot of point to it unless you are in a professional photo workflow environment)

I’m going to use Photoline fairly intensively over the next 30 days to try it out, but I suspect at 59 Euro, it will go into the maybe oneday pile, in the sense of if I was to buy an editor it would probably be this, but GIMP is good enough for me for the moment.

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