Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why I shoot the way I shoot...

Ok, fair warning up front. This will be a more technical post. I can sense the eyes glazing over now, but I am going to do it anyway... :-)

Almost everyone that uses a digital camera or does anything with a computer will at least be familiar with a jpeg file. That is one of the most common forms of picture file that you will find today. However, with the advent of modern cameras, computers, and computerized cameras, that simple file was not keeping up with the ability of the hardware or software. That is where the "raw" file came into play.

For the non-techie folks that haven't turned and run screaming yet, allow me to set up this a little bit more so you can follow along as well. The digital camera works by exposing a sensor panel to light. It is the same mechanical process used by film cameras. The shutter opens, allows the light through, and the light is recorded. With me so far?

Once the camera has recorded the light on the sensor panel (for digital cameras), the camera interprets the data using a pre-set calculation. This calculated data file is then stored on a memory card. Typically, it is stored as a jpeg file. Hang in there, I am coming to a point soon.

The disadvantage of using jpeg files is that the only way to correct the camera's calculations was to completely change the file using an editing program. While this is fine, it is not nearly as accurate as working with the data before it was locked down. That is where the raw file has advantage over the jpeg. The raw file does not lock down the data. It allows you to take all the same data and tell the computer to calculate the visual image a different way. Using a raw processing program, you can adjust colors, color balance, color strength, saturation, clarity, and on and on and on...

Ok, I will have mercy and be done talking give you an  example. It is the same file. The first one is how the camera thought the data would look. The second is the one that I told the computer how it should look. What do you think? Difference should be subtle, but I can tell a difference. What about you?

original  vs  adjusted

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