the glories of shooting RAW

i have seen this debated countless times, and i certainly am not going to claim that my way is the highway, but i shoot RAW. i am not ashamed.

bad reasons to shoot RAW:

1. so i can fix all of my images later
2. i dont have to worry about exposure

no doubt you want to get it right the first time. and in all honesty, once i began mastering getting the correct exposure in camera, it opened up a whole new world of exploration in the realm of techniques done strictly in the camera. ill tell you, that also saves me a heck of a lot of time on post processing!

here is an example of why i looooove raw. now, mind you, some of this process can be duplicated, with a little more work, with jpeg files, but not with the quality of result, imo….

here is an image straight out of camera:


first, ill tell you that the sun is directly behind me blocked by a large hill, meaning that the subjects are in the shade. now i would love to expose for the people in this image and have a nice blue sky behind them, but seeing as how they are in the shade and the sun is pointing directly into the sky behind them, i cant do that in camera without adding some variation of artificial light. i had none at the present time, as is the case most of the time right after a ceremony, so i digress.
now, helping this a little is that at the time of the image, it is sundown, and there is some blue at the top of the image, due to the sun not being quite as harsh at that time of day. here is where RAW comes in to play…

when you shoot RAW, you do have a large gamut of exposure with which to work with, nondestructively. so i open the image in ACR (adobe camera RAW, for those taking notes 🙂 ) and make my color adjustments there. open that image into PS. then go back to the RAW file and open another copy of it into ACR and underexpose the people and bring all that information that is left in the sky, that appears to be gone (and of course would be if i had shot in jpeg). now ive got two identical images opened as psd files in PS. drag one of the images onto the other and create a layer mask, filled with black on the top layer. then take a soft white brush and begin revealing that top layer in the areas where i want it. so basically i am now painting in the nice blue sky the way it was when i was actually there, not some manufactured sky (which we all have seen) done in PS that looks fairly unbelievable.

and here is the result (along with a contrast bump and a little TCDW, no soft, from the totally rad action mix):


will say that when using this technique, it is better to try to get the subjects completely below the sky line for more accurate masking (avoiding those fairly ugly halos that reveal your secrets of post processing seen here 🙂 )



~ by paparazzipictures on January 22, 2008.

4 Responses to “the glories of shooting RAW”

  1. Awesome! Feel free to post tutorials anytime. 🙂

  2. ooh, cool! I was actually planning on begging and pleading with you later this week to ask you a ‘how to’ do something along the same lines. So excited about this. I have an image in mind that I need to try this on. You rock!

  3. Sweet post Erik (post meaning post and post…) I’ve been using the same technique for awhile and it rocks for people shots and landscapes – but here you kinda had both. Nice. Sock it to all of the jpeg-only shooters. 😉

  4. Oh wow!! Learned something new today, thanks so very much!!!

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