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Thread: Raw Processing Tutorial

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Raw Processing Tutorial

    Starting out with RAW

    So, you are shooting in JPG and might be interested in changing to shoot in RAW, this tutorial is written to give you a bit of an overview of RAW processing.

    A few things about RAW


    When you take a photo, the sensor transmits data to the camera about what each pixel-site “saw”. This data is the RAW information. A RAW file is the equivalent of a negative, in film terms.

    RAW files need to be opened in software that can read the RAW data and present it on your monitor. There are numerous RAW programs, often called Raw Converters, available. Which you chose is entirely up to you, but they all allow you to do similar things.

    RAW files are much bigger than JPG files, so you might find you will want larger memory cards, if you decide to shoot in RAW all the time.

    Some of the advantages of RAW. Edits to a RAW file in your Conversion software are ‘non-destructive”, they can be un-done, changed, redone without any degradation to your RAW file. White balance can be changed, Exposure can be changed, along with many other advantages. For a good description of RAW - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAW_image_format

    Things you need to do

    - To shoot in RAW, you will need to use your camera’s menu system and select RAW
    - You will need to have some RAW converter software installed on your PC.
    - You will need to have uploaded the RAW files from your camera to your PC.

    This tutorial will use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), you can choose other RAW converter software, the basic instructions will be the same, and you will just have to interpret them for your software.

    There are several ways to open a RAW file into ACR, one of the easiest is to use photoshop and File > Open and locate your raw file on your hard disk and double-click it. Photoshop will automatically open ACR when it detects a RAW file.



    On the above screen capture, there are a few things to look at.
    - Above top left of the photo are several tools, these include a crop tool, a straighten tool and more. These are worthwhile experimenting with in your own time.
    - Down the right side is a histogram, some more tools and sliders. (to understand how a histogram works, which is worthwhile to learn as you can use the histogram on your camera's LCD to check exposure etc at the time of shooting, read this)

    We are going to look at some of those sliders.


    White balance can be altered by clicking on the drop down menu and choosing another setting, or you can move the sliders for temperature and tint. You can also type a Kelvin temperature into the box next to the temperature slider.

    Exposure, you can adjust the exposure of your RAW file. Note how on the histogram for this photo, there is a lot of bunching on the left hand side (the left hand side is the shadows of your photo, the right hand is the highlights). You can adjust the exposure slider to compensate and correct this photo and produce a better histogram.

    Recovery, allows you to recover some of the highlight area, and reduce their brightness. Note that blown highlights are very difficult to recover effectively and its better to get that right in camera, rather than try to repair a blown out sky etc.

    Fill light, works on the shadow areas, to bring more brightness to the darker areas of your photo. Over use of this can create noise in the photo.

    Blacks, gives the shadow areas (blacks) a rich deep black. Use carefully.

    Brightness and contrast, these sliders adjust, well the brightness and contrast, amazingly enough.

    Clarity is sharpness, you can sharpen now, though convention says that sharpening should be one of the last things you do in your work flow, and Photoshop (other editing packages) give you more control over sharpening.

    Vibrance and saturation, both adjust the intensity of colours in your photo.

    So, these are the main controls you can use when processing a RAW file, feel free to have a play with the other settings, to see the results of using them. Remember to watch your histogram as you adjust the settings.

    Below is the same RAW file, with the sliders changed to show you the results of adjusting them.


    Once you are complete with your RAW processing you have a couple of choices, you can click Open Image, which will open your processed RAW file in Photoshop for further editing, or you can click Save Image, to save it in DNG (adobe RAW), TIF, JPG or PSD format, for editing in Photoshop at a later time.

    This tutorial only breezes over the entire process, but following it you should get a basic understanding of how RAW conversion works.

    Below is the same photo, processed with a change of white balance, and some further processing in Photoshop, to show you the scope of what can be achieved from shooting in RAW. It is worth comparing the photo below, to the first one in the tutorial above, to see what shooting in RAW allows you to do.

    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
    Nikon, etc!

    RICK
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    That was good, thanks... I'm still working up the courage to switch mode from JPEG on my SLR
    Cheers, Chris.

    Please critique my shots, and be brutally honest. I'm here to learn!

    [Canon EOS 350D -- Canon USM 28-80mm -- Canon 75-300mm -- Canon 18-55mm]
    [http://www.chrishermann.net]

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    Member peterst6906's Avatar
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    Nice intorductory tutorial Rick.

    RAW converters, especially since the release of the last generation, have expanded significantly in their capability in the last couple of years.

    Not that long ago, the idea of a RAW converter was simply to convert the data to an image and get it into Photoshop as quickly as possible. Now they offer almost complete color and tonal adjustment control and combined with batch processing, the post processing overhead that many people dread is very manageable.

    Definitely a subject that can be discussed at length and I hope your tutorial encourages a few people to take the plunge into RAW and to ask a few questions.

    Regards,

    Peter

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    Really well done Rick.

    Paul

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    G'day
    Some people must have lots of spare time; that was well written and I hope some JPEG snappers will now give raw a go. It is worth it and raw puts the photographer in control

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by IanB View Post
    G'day
    Some people must have lots of spare time; that was well written and I hope some JPEG snappers will now give raw a go. It is worth it and raw puts the photographer in control

    Cheers
    Not really a lot of spare time, but I have a series of tutorials I want to get written over a period of time to help guide members. So when I do get an hour or two free, I hope to get them done, slowly, one at a time.

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    Thanks Rick...a good overview, particularly as I've only recently started shooting RAW. Cheers
    Sean

    Gear: Canon AE-1, EOS 40D & 350D; Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM; EF 85mm f/1.8 USM; EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro; EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM; 430EX Speedlite; Manfrotto 190XDB with 804RC2 head


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    Member TigerLily's Avatar
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    Thanks, great tutorial!

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    Yeah so glad you posted this Rick, Ive taken the plunge to RAW just this weekend so this couldnt have come at a better time. Its amazing how much you can change an image. Is there a reason you took the original photo so "dark"? like does it let you get more out of the photo come PP. And that link to the histogram stuff is great, been wanting to know more about how to read it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomAus View Post
    Yeah so glad you posted this Rick, Ive taken the plunge to RAW just this weekend so this couldnt have come at a better time. Its amazing how much you can change an image. Is there a reason you took the original photo so "dark"? like does it let you get more out of the photo come PP. And that link to the histogram stuff is great, been wanting to know more about how to read it.
    Tom, if you look at the first ACR image in the tutorial, under the histogram, you will see this was taken at f16 for 15 seconds. The photo came out quite dark, cause it was almost dark, well after sunset. My camera (Nikon D3) lets me get away with this a bit as it lets me recover a lot of detail from the shadows, not all camera's are as effective. I chose this photo for the tutorial as I knew I could present a dramatic result in the tutorial.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Tom, if you look at the first ACR image in the tutorial, under the histogram, you will see this was taken at f16 for 15 seconds. The photo came out quite dark, cause it was almost dark, well after sunset. My camera (Nikon D3) lets me get away with this a bit as it lets me recover a lot of detail from the shadows, not all camera's are as effective. I chose this photo for the tutorial as I knew I could present a dramatic result in the tutorial.
    Thanks Rick.

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    I'm just posting this so this thread goes back up to the top where it should be so those who may have missed it will get a look in.

    Good reading if you are thinking about going [in the] raw.

    Cheers

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    Thanks Rick I''m another who is experimenting with raw rather than jpeg and its a great illustration of what can be achieved. In previous dabblings with raw converters I couldn't see any great advantage over using jpegs and photoshop, but that may have been due to familiarity. I will persist until I become as familiar with raw converting as I am with my current approach.
    Rod.
    You can see some of my photos at Flickr

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    Excellent tut -

    To those that are a lil scared of RAW - just try it, you will love it!
    (now I sound kind of like a pusher LOL)
    But RAW is so much fun - just make sure you have lots of room on your memory cards,
    as RAW will eat it up pretty fast.
    Canon 450D + 18-55 IS + 55-250 IS + 50mm 1.8 + Sigma 10-20 + Tamron 70-200 F2.8 + Grip + 430EX + Hoods + Cards + Velbon Tripod + Tamrac Bag = ME BROKE + NO L

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    I'll have to give this a go. I have a spare memory card now. Might just use that one for raw pics and try this out. You might convert me. Doesn't hurt to try.
    Thanks for looking....Cheers,
    Julie-Anne / Julie / Jules / Julesy / JAS

    MY ..... MY BLOG..... Feel free to look.
    Canon 40D / 24-105mm L IS / 70-200mm L IS / 75-300mm / 50mm 1.8 / Sigma 10-20mm / Manfrotto tripod / Bits and pieces to fill the bag.


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    Ahhh....thanks for that tutorial Rick. I 'switched' to shooting in RAW a week or so after getting the camera because a lot of people on here (and another forum) said it was better. But I never 'did' much with the pics as I didn't understand what all the sliders, etc did. Now I will be a bit more 'adventurous' and give it a bit more of a go. Plenty of room on a 4GB card...think in RAW mode it is 396 images. More than enough for a day out!
    Thanks again.
    Last edited by wanderer51; 09-08-2008 at 10:54pm. Reason: Bit more info
    Canon 550D/7D - Canon 24mm IS USM - Sigma 10-20mm - Canon 15-85 IS USM - Sigma 28-300mm | RS60E3 cable remote | B&W ND110, Hoya CPL, ND2, ND8, Cokin P series H250A GND 'kit' | An embarrassingly cheap SLIK tripod.
    Software: PS CS5

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    Thanks for the tutorial Rick. I was worried about using raw so i plucked up the courage on the weekend and gave it a burl. I set the historgram on the camera and tried using that. I love it but I still have sooooooooooooooo much to learn.

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    Member matilda's Avatar
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    I haven't read the entire thread yet, but you have no idea how much this thread has been a MASSIVE help to me. I just started shooting in raw and had no idea what I as doing when it came to the processing.

    So thanks again.

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    Thanks, really appreciate it! Looks like I will RAW more often

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    This is a fantastic tutorial! I'll definitely be giving RAW photography a shot (excuse the pun :P) as a result of reading this!
    Nikon Devotee: D200, F, F75 (N75), Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 + 55-200mm VR + 50mm 1.8D + 35mm 2.8 Ai-S
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    Slow shutter speed and low light lover, landscapes and distant subjects also favoured.

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