If you’re a photographer and you don’t shoot in RAW, that before and after pictures above ^^^ should be enough to convince you to. I’m going to start writing more blog posts aimed towards helping other photographers and we’re kicking it off with something simple that will make a huge impact on the quality of your photos. RAW is a file format that captures all of the image data recorded by your sensor when you take a photo. If you’re not shooting in RAW or don’t know what the heck I’m even talking about then you’re most likely shooting in JPEG format. When you take pictures in JPEG format instead of in RAW your camera is compressing the image and you loose a lot of that data.

Perks of shooting in RAW:

  • Your image is a larger file with more data which leads to an all together better quality photo
  • You can print images at extremely larger sizes than you can with JPEG
  • You can manipulate the photo much more when editing (color, lighting, etc.) without losing the integrity of the image or looking “fake”

So let’s take some examples! This photo above was obviously taken a little too dark. Maybe I accidentally underexposed too much in camera, or maybe the sun had gone down. Regardless, the “before” image on the left is obviously in need of some adjustment. If this image would have been taken in JPEG format there would only be so much I could do to fix it. I would try my best to bring up the exposure and lighten the subjects, but because the file would have been compressed it would lead to an extremely grainy photo and lots of the details in the image itself would be lost. I probably would have ended up tossing the photo all together because I couldn’t save it.

However, because I shot in RAW I was able to save it and it turned out to be one of my favorite images from the session. I was able to bring up the exposure, bring up the highlights, and play with my tone curve to create a natural bright and airy photo. It took all of probably 60 seconds to get to the “after” image on the right. And you would have never guessed how dark the picture was to start out. Boom. Easy Peasy. 

Here’s another example where the sun had gone down on our shoot and all of the images were coming out super blue and “cool”. If I had shot in JPEG, when I went to edit I would have tried to warm up the photo and it would have resulted in the entire image turning orange. Everything would have had an orange-ish tint to it and it definitely wouldn’t have had the natural clean look that I go for.

Because this was a RAW image I was able to bring back the true integrity of the colors. I was able to pull up my temperature slider and it brought back all of that sunny warmth that I was wanting without changing anything from its true color. The paper sitting on the plate is WHITE, not orange. and that in itself is something that can only truly be fixed in RAW. 

I talked about changing light and temperature without disrupting the photos true colors, but you can also manipulate your colors if you wish to. In my twins Two Year Photoshoot the grass photographed a really ugly shade of green. I loved the greenery itself, but the way the camera captured it just wasn’t quite what I was wanting. I was easily able to go into my color tab and play with my green sliders to get the grass to the exact shade I wanted it without even having to touch any of the other colors. I like the greens in my photos to be bright and soft and not at all obnoxious, so usually I go in and bring up the Hue, take down the Saturation, and bring up the Luminance. It’s an easy fix and changes the look of your entire image. And this is definitely not something you’d have the capability to do with a JPEG photo.

 

How to change your camera to RAW:

If you don’t shoot in RAW and don’t know how to change it, don’t worry it’s easy! Go to your menu and find “Image Quality” If you have a Canon it’ll be under one of the tabs with the camera icon. (If you shoot Nikon, sorry I’m not much help whoops). Click on Image Quality and your options will come up for what format you want to shoot in! Click RAW! If you’re not sure about it you can also tell your camera to take every image in RAW and in JPEG, that way you can try out editing both ways and see first hand how much of a difference RAW makes. 

A couple things to keep in mind:

Shooting in RAW will definitely change your photography experience, but if you’re new to it there’s a couple things you’ll want to keep in mind.

  • Because the image size is so much bigger you will need bigger and faster memory cards. Each image will take up tons more space on your card than a JPEG image, and it will take your camera a little longer to process each image. So make sure you have memory cards that will write fast and hold enough pictures for you to get through a session.
  • You need some sort of photo editing software to open RAW images. Unlike JPEGs, you can’t just pull the pictures right off your card and upload them to Facebook with no steps in between. You’ll need Lightroom or Photoshop to open the file and then once you’re done with it you can export it as a JPEG.
  • Your photos will look a little bit different in RAW than they do in JPEG form. When you pull up your pictures in Lightroom to edit them one of the first things you’ll probably notice is how flat your pictures look. The RAW image takes the photo exactly as it is with no compressing or alterations, and gives you the power to bring it to life. It’s such a wonderful thing for photographers but there is definitely a learning curve to editing.

So now it’s time for you grab your camera and go shoot. Switch to RAW and try it out, and tell me what you think! And leave a comment below for what topics you want me to talk about next! 🙂