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Chapter Five: RAW & Basic Editing

Hi there! Yuukon once again, presenting you the new chapter of Photography 101! I can't believe this is the fifth already!

If you are new to Photography 101, I recommend you to check out the first four chapters before continuing:
Photography 101: Chapter 01: Basics - Looking
Photography101: Chapter 02: Composition - Location
Photography 101: Chapter 03: Lighting
Photography 101: Chapter 04: Light sources and WB

Today we will be tackling a subject I have answered many, many questions about over time:
What is RAW, and why is it "better" than jpeg?! :confused: 

  • What is RAW?
  • Pro's of RAW compared to JPEG
  • Cons of RAW
  • Basic Editing
Let me break this down for you!

What is RAW?

A RAW-file is something your camera creates but, what does it mean, and what can you do with it? A RAW-file is literally RAW, it's unedited, uncompressed and comes directly from your sensor to your memory card. Technically, RAW is what used to be our negatives on film. It still needs to be "developed". 
When you shoot in jpeg files, your camera will do the developing for you, and these adjustments are irreversible. Which means you will have less "freedom" editing your jpeg files, as the quality degrades with every edit you make, considering you manipulate the pixels. A key advantage of RAW is that when you edit it, you do not manipulate the pixels itself. Instead, you kind of "layer on" the edits you make.

You can compare it to this:
When you write on a piece of paper with ink, you can not remove it without any trace (jpeg).
When you write something on a sticky note and add it to the original piece of paper, you can remove it again (RAW).

So, when you stick the edits on as if they are post-it notes on RAW files, it means you can very easily reverse the edit when you don't like it, without having broken the pixels in any way. 

RAW file-formats differ from brand to brand. Canon, for instance, produces a .CR2 file when shooing in RAW, whereas Nikon produces a .NEF file. Sony's RAW files will have a different extension, and the same goes on for Pentax, Olympus, Kodak, and so on. 

To take full advantage of your RAW files, you'll need photo-editing software. I know that not everybody appreciates editing your work as much as I do, but keep in mind that editing doesn't mean "over-editing". More about this later in this chapter.

Pro's of RAW compared to jpeg

There are many, many pro's to raw compared to when you shoot in jpeg, I will list you a bunch with explanations:
  • Non-destructive editing
    When working in RAW, you will be sticking your edits on instead of editing on the file itself like in jpeg.
  • Get the highest quality from your camera possible
    When you shoot in RAW, you record all of the data from your sensor. This means that it still contains information from area's that might otherwise be lost. 
  • Easily fix under- or overexposed images
    Because RAW keeps all information, it will also keep (potential) information from under- and overexposed area's in your photo. This means you can bring back (some of) the detail that would have been lost when shooting in jpeg. 
  • Easily fix white balance
    With jpeg, your white balance will be your white balance. Forever. In RAW, you can easily change it to suit the mood in your photograph!
  • Ability to sharpen the image in post-processing
    If you were to sharpen a jpeg image, it very likely will ruin the image quality. In RAW, it won't, as you will "stick it on" instead of manipulate the pixels.
  • Optimize your picture for web or print
    RAW file can be converted to CMYK (for print) or RGB (for web) very easily, with barely any loss of quality, which is what you want! 
  • Better noise-reduction
    When applying noise-reduction on a jpeg file, you will often lose a lot of detail. With RAW, you can bring some of that detail you just lost back by for instance sharpening the picture.
  • Shoot better HDR pictures
    Shooting HDR means you shoot three images- one that is "overexposed", to get the details from the dark parts, a "well exposed" image and a "underexposed" image, to capture details in the lighter parts of your scene. In HDR, details are essential to the picture like with no other kind of editing. Mixing jpeg files for HDR will likely destroy the quality; in RAW, they will come together much better.

Cons of RAW

Of course, like with anything, there are also some cons to shooting with RAW:
  • RAW files are bigger.
  • It slows the camera down in writing the images to the memory card, since they are bigger.
  • They need to processed and converted, which takes more time.
  • They can not be shared right away, as they need to be processed.
However, there are solutions for all of these "problems". You can buy a bigger, faster memory card to fix the first two issues, and if you don't want to spend time on every photo for processing and want to share faster, you can always opt to shoot in both jpeg and RAW, to share the images that came out good in jpeg right away! 

I definitely recommend to shoot in RAW. Ever since I started shooting in RAW, my photography has thoroughly improved, and so have my editing skills. Yes, it takes a bit more time, but, it is definitely worth your while.


Basic Editing

When it comes to editing, there are many things to be discussed. However, it is not my intention to tell you how to edit, but more what possibilities you have if you do choose to edit your photographs. These are the subjects I'd like to discuss today:
  • Why edit?
  • Software
  • Editing tools

Why edit?

If done right, editing will improve your photograph. Those bright, vivid sunrises and sunsets you see did not come straight from the camera. I know no professional photographer that does not edit, especially considering some basic retouching is part of the job. 
Editing is a trick you will have to learn, and it is something you will develop your own style in over time. (no pun intended! Just smile and nod)

Let's start off by me telling you why I edit my photographs:
I edit my photographs to improve them, to create the atmosphere I want to showcase and because without editing, they don't feel "complete" to me. I used to not edit my photographs, but at some point I swayed and started doing so. To this day, I am still glad I did. It has become an important part of my process and editing helps me express my feelings and bring it across to the person looking at my photograph. 

Any photographer you ask will very likely have a very different, but possibly very similar answer to mine. I'm almost never happy with a photograph straight from the camera, as there is always room to improve!

Software

As I mentioned earlier in this article, there are many, many different kinds of photo editing software out there. We have the big fish, like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, and DxO Optics Pro, but those are all very expensive. There are also many free alternatives that do the job just as well! I used to work with GIMP back in the day, and that suited my needs just fine for a very long time. 
I have drafted a Photography Resources List on which you can find many software, for different platforms. And the best part: they are all free! 
So if you don't want to spend money on software: don't worry. There are plenty of fish in the sea to devel... eh, plenty of software on the internet to develop your photographs with! :yayay: - NaNoEmo 24/30 + Plz 

Editing Tools

There are a lot of different software out there, and they all differ. But, they all have something in common: they all have the "same" basic set of tools. Down below I will list a bunch of these tools, tools I also use a lot, and explain what you can do with them.

  • 33d6f6c819[1] by Yuukon Move Tool
    The move tool is a pretty straight forward tool; it is, as the name does suspect, to move things around in your work. For example, if you want to apply a watermark on your photograph, but don't like the automatic placement, you use this tool to move it to the place where you want it to be.
  • Ss+(2016-05-16+at+07.25.20) by Yuukon Rectangular Marquee Tool
    The rectangular marquee tool is a tool that you use to select a rectangular/square area of your canvas. If there is something you want to copy, you can use this tool to select the area. 
  • Ss+(2016-05-16+at+07.25.55) by Yuukon Crop Tool
    The crop tool is also pretty straight forward. It is used to crop your photograph. If you think there is too much empty space around your photograph, you can use the crop tool to remove this, and create a better fitting composition.
  • Ss+(2016-05-16+at+07.26.07) by Yuukon Eyedropper Tool
    The eyedropper tool is used to select colours. When you select it, you can click anywhere in your work, and the colour palette will show the colour you have just selected. 
  • Ss+(2016-05-16+at+07.26.26) by Yuukon Spot Healing Brush Tool
    The spot healing brush tool is to heal spots in your photograph. If you have a piece of dust on the sensor of your camera for instance, it might show up on the photograph. You can use this tool to remove it, as it will look for a colour similar to the one surrounding your spot, and "heal" it by layering a similar, but clean area on top of it.
  • Ss+(2016-05-16+at+07.26.46) by Yuukon Clone Stamp Tool
    The clone stamp tool is very useful if there is something in your photograph that is bothering you. Like a small light in the background, or maybe your dog's leash. With the clone stamp tool, you select a "clean" area, close to what you want to remove, and brush over the area you want to remove, like your dog's leash. 
  • Ss+(2016-05-16+at+07.27.06) by Yuukon Blur Tool
    The blur tool is to blur things. If there is something in the background of your photograph for instance, but it's not blurred out well, you can blur it a bit further using the blur tool. 



That's all for today! 

Since it's summer and such nice weather outside, I'll be going on a trip in June! This means the next issue of Photography 101 will be released somewhere in July August. 
I am wishing you all a fabulous summer, and take lots of photographs! :photobounce:

If you have any questions, please ask!
If you have suggestions for my course, send me a note!
If you want to learn more about photography, and receive feedback on your work, check out PhotographyGuide!

Next Chapter:
Photography 101: Chapter 06: Gear
 


Chapter five of Photography 101! I hope it's helpful to you!

Don't forget to check out projecteducate for more interesting articles! :eager: by darkmoon3636 
Add a Comment:
 
:iconlochnessica:
Lochnessica Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2018
If you converted a RAW file to edit in GIMP would it still have the same effect? And if so, what would I convert it to?
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2018   Photographer
You should be able to simply open the RAW files in GIMP to edit them :) If you somehow are not able to, I recommend looking up on Google how to do it, as I do not use GIMP myself.
Reply
:iconfootaches:
FootAches Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2016
I have the IQ of a brick. I thought my camera didn't have a RAW option but I just found it after searching harder for it. 
Needless to say, it's amazing compared to .jpeg. Thanks for the guide :) 
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2016   Photographer
You're welcome.
Reply
:iconthystyn:
Thystyn Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for mentioning RAWTherapee.  I didn't know about this and until now have been using an old version of Adobe Camera Raw.  I downloaded RAWTherapee and it recognises my old camera woohoo.  It looks very complicated, I will have to work through the manual to learn how to use it.  This is exciting.
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2016   Photographer
Good luck on figuring it out! I've never really worked with it myself, so I can't tell you how it works. I'm certain there are quite a few tutorials to be found, though!
Reply
:iconthetahelion:
ThetaHelion Featured By Owner May 25, 2016
A really great journal, but I'd like to make a suggestion for the following point:

Optimize your picture for web or print
RAW file can be converted to CMYK (for print) or RGB (for web) very easily, with barely any loss of quality, which is what you want!

The conversion into CMYK should be done at the stage at last as you know on what kind of paper you're gonna print (considering the image itself for the right rendering priority / intent > perceptual, relative colorimetric, etc.).
Keep the larger RGB color space as long as possible and convert the picture during the output process into the required color profile for coated or uncoated papers (or if available into an individual printing machine / print provider profile).

jm2c
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 25, 2016   Photographer
Thank you, and thank you for your suggestion! :)
Reply
:iconeruanna17:
Eruanna17 Featured By Owner May 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much! I've only just started using RAW so I'm still learning the ropes but my image quality is better overall. I also love that parrot :lol:
Aaand I'm using a free program called RawTherapee so maybe you'd like to include it in your list?
Also have fun on your trip :D
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 25, 2016   Photographer
You're welcome dear! RAW is definitely a great way to go! It gives so much more control! :nod:
Thank you, I hadn't thought of that one yet, I will add it right away!
Reply
:iconeruanna17:
Eruanna17 Featured By Owner May 25, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad I could help a bit :)
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 26, 2016   Photographer
:huggle:
Reply
:icondorenna:
dorenna Featured By Owner May 24, 2016
Nicely written article, plus bonus points for the Panda, and the Parrot. Thank-you.
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 25, 2016   Photographer
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Reply
:icondorenna:
dorenna Featured By Owner May 25, 2016
Helps a lot. I am an old analogian, so the digital advice is always helpful.:happybounce: 
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 25, 2016   Photographer
I grew up with film myself as well! Still use it quite regularly. There's something magic about it :nod:
Reply
:iconbarananduen:
barananduen Featured By Owner May 24, 2016   General Artist
Awesome article!! :D :clap:

Which RAW file handlers do you recommend?

I use the one that came with my Canon camera and I don't think I can convert to CMYK, and I definitely cannot do noise-reduction. Also, sharpening results in grain.
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 25, 2016   Photographer
Thank you!
I personally have used Lightroom since forever and a half, but the one that comes with Canon cameras is great too, I used that for a long time myself. I recently learned about RAWTherapee, might be worth a shot. Photoshop has CameraRAW built in as well, but that is not particularly cheap.
When it comes to conversion and sharpening I always use Photoshop, that gives the best quality for me. As for free software, try things like Pixlr and Fotor for sharpening, and GIMP is a good one for converting :nod:
Reply
:iconbarananduen:
barananduen Featured By Owner May 25, 2016   General Artist
waitwaitwait- You can convert to CMYK with Gimp??? :omfg: OMG how??:excited: That's what I use for digital painting, too, and I've been having headaches forever trying to get stuff to print right, with RGB x.x

Will check out RAWTherapee; thank you!

Thank you for your response! :hug:
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 25, 2016   Photographer
Yes! I used it all the time before I had PS!

To convert an RGB image to CMYK format, bring up the right-button menu, and go to "Image->" If the plugin in installed correctly, there will be a new menu, "Separate". From this new menu, select "Separate (normal)"; you will be prompted to select an RGB source profile, and a CMYK destination profile.

Those are the directions I found to it! Good luck!

You're welcome! :huggle:
Reply
:iconbarananduen:
barananduen Featured By Owner May 25, 2016   General Artist
OK, I don't have that plugin, because I don't see "Separate" as an option, but I'll research this plugin to get it.
Thank you so much!! :heart: I really appreciate it! :hug:
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 26, 2016   Photographer
Good luck! Let me know if you have any other questions for me! :nod:
Reply
:iconbarananduen:
barananduen Featured By Owner May 26, 2016   General Artist
OK, thank you!! :hug: :heart:
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 27, 2016   Photographer
You're welcome!
Reply
:iconlintu47:
Lintu47 Featured By Owner May 24, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
:clap:
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 24, 2016   Photographer
:bow:
Reply
:icondaghrgenzeen:
Daghrgenzeen Featured By Owner May 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
:la::la::la:
My camera takes both JPEG and RAW files at once. :lol: It takes space, but, I like it, 'cause I can clearly see the differences between the two files when going through the photos on my laptop. :nod:
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 24, 2016   Photographer
A big memory card definite helps, I have two 32GB cards, and I can last over a 1000 pictures with it :nod:
Reply
:icondaghrgenzeen:
Daghrgenzeen Featured By Owner May 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I couldn't afford a big card, though, but usually when I've taken photos on a day, I transfer them to the laptop the same day.. :nod: It's worksome, but yeah. :D
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 24, 2016   Photographer
That works as well! Check out Gigantti or Verkkokauppa though, they have fairly cheap and decent cards :nod:
Reply
:icondaghrgenzeen:
Daghrgenzeen Featured By Owner May 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, I had to buy mine from a Prisma 'cause it was the nearest store back then and I wanted to get to use the camera asap :lol: haha. :D
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 24, 2016   Photographer
Oh, Prisma :yuck:  I never liked that place much Just smile and nod 
Reply
:icondaghrgenzeen:
Daghrgenzeen Featured By Owner May 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I usually prefer Prisma over Cittari... 'cept our local Cittari has those yummy cola mushroom candies! :drool:
Reply
:iconyuukon:
Yuukon Featured By Owner May 24, 2016   Photographer
Ah, never been to one of those. We only had Siwa, Alepa and K-(super) market close enough.
Reply
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