Editing in raw – the greatest step towards better photography

Editing in raw – the greatest step towards better photography

Not an uncommon result from a sunset. The sky is over-exposed and the foreground black. The red part in the sky is a marker for over-exposure. Now we decreased white and highlights. But in reality we can see the foreground too. This is how it looks when we have increased the light in shadows and black. Here we have increased Clarity and Vibrancy. Had we instead decreased Clarity, the result would have been a bit like a soft-filter. We also increased colour saturation. Now we have sharpened the image. One of the advantages with Camera Raw is also that you can make adjustments to all images at the same time. Of course you can increase the saturation for each colour. Now we are getting close to how it looked in reality. Each colour can be made lighter or darker. ...And the orange can be redder. Curves are also a popular function in Camera Raw.

The greatest improvement, from shooting with your mobile to using a digital SLR, is probably the ability to use raw format. The advantages are great and many.

The information from the image sensor in your camera needs to be interpreted in order to produce an image. The question is if you are leaving it to the camera or if you are doing it yourself. If you want to do it yourself you need to shoot in raw format. You’ll find the rewards amazing.

Raw is the format your camera use to collect and manage the sensor information. The files are much larger than for instance jpg, but in return it contains much more information. This means that you can change white balance, exposure and much more afterwards. In our opinion this is the greatest innovation in photography since Tri-X.

Raw is not a standard format. It’s unique for every camera vendor. This is why Apple and Microsoft constantly are updating their operating systems, so that you can see the images on your computer. Adobe has developed the DNG-format in response to raw, which contains the same data and has the same advantages. This can be good to remember if you have old images and want be absolutely sure to keep them in the future.

Choose your photo editing software for the future

LightRoom is great for achieving a nice result. You import the images you want to use and they are saved to a database. You can then tag them and mark them as favourites and search. It sometimes feel a bit slow compared to Camera Raw and you still need a program for tasks like isolating motives or beauty editing.

LightRoom is great for achieving a nice result. You import the images you want to use and they are saved to a database. You can then tag them and mark them as favourites and search. It sometimes feel a bit slow compared to Camera Raw and you still need a program for tasks like isolating motives or beauty editing.

Camera Raw, a module in PhotoShop and LightRoom, both from Adobe, are today the leading photo editing programs. In my view it seems LightRoom sometimes produces a slightly nicer result than Camera Raw. I don’t know why. But I also think that camera Raw is more rational, faster and easier to work with.

The camera vendors also provide software for raw editing. Some provide a version of LightRoom, some, like Nikon, provides their own software for photo editing. Apple is selling Aperture and Corel a program called After Shot. And there is other software available for download on the net.

Unfortunately there are often problems with freeware. For instance regarding for how long they will remain free. The leading freeware is Gimp. It’s part of Open Source, powerful and available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It will most certainly remain free, but unfortunately the raw support is either non-existent or hard to find and install, especially if you are using Mac or Windows versions.

If you are in the process of choosing software you should keep in mind that the vendors produced software often only works with their own specific raw files. If you in the future change your camera brand, you may have to change software as well. Furthermore the future of Corel is somewhat uncertain and most of the free software on the net may also turn out to be dead ends. For those reasons I recommend LightRoom or Camera Raw.

Safer with raw

When on a assignment I feel much more confident shooting in raw. Under- or over-exposed images can be rescued with raw format, while it’s otherwise impossible to doo anything about completely white or black areas.

I have often worked on events. It’s a common problem with different light sources in the same motive. For instance daylight, tungsten, fluorescent light and projector lights. They all have different colour temperature and it’s not unusual that the most important part of the motive is in a smaller part of the image. The automatic white balance in your camera normally adjusts to the majority of the motive. And to use manual settings for the white balance is no solution. A speaker can often move between different parts of the set. With raw it’s easy to adjust the white balance for each image and if needed even for just a part of the image.

Another example when raw format is more or less necessary is when shooting nature, and especially sunsets. When capturing sunsets the result normally comes out with an over-exposed sky and a black foreground.

With raw you can adjust the exposure for white, highlights, shadows and blacks. It’s possible to tune the image to look like reality and even better.

When shooting interiors it may be preferred to adjust the colour balance to a warmer light. And when shooting night images raw are absolutely necessary, in my view. If the motive contains a street lamp your image may otherwise appear with awful colours.

From raw to Instagram

I like very much the function for saving and naming files from Camera Raw. You can save images in a certain quality and name the files cleverly. I usually give names with numbering, enabling me to get the right sorting through alphabetical order, provided I edit the images in the right order.

This is handy when uploading the images to a slideshow. I only wish I could set size and resolutions for the images as well. Today I need to open the images in PhotoShop and set size and resolution for each image or to run a conversion program.

For my private images I use quite high jpeg-compression and drops my images to Picasa. From there I can get them on all my computers and other devices. And then it’s easy to share your images by Instagram, Eyeem, FaceBook or Google+.

About the slideshow above

An example of some of the things you can do by raw editing. We have demonstrated the most common or useful functions. In the tool bar in the top there are also some useful functions, such as a quick fix for red eyes, cropping the image, removing spots and pimples and zooming. But the perhaps coolest tool is a pen for painting settings to a part of the image. With that you can adjust white balance, exposure, colours and sharpness or blur, by painting the adjustments to parts of the image.