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The importance of Raw

Thursday 19 November 2009
Thunderstorm over Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Thunderstorm, Ngorongoro Crater

It’s been a bright and sunny autumn this year in southern Ontario. Today is the first day of rain in weeks, it seems. At the same time, its been a busy autumn with guests, my book launch and the website overhaul (still on-going but will shortly be finished).

I think I need to work on streamlining image processing. I have a good system – one that I will write about one day – but it seems that for every hour I spend photographing, I spend at least an hour working on processing: editing, numbering, past-capture processing, organizing. It takes forever. I’m sure there are efficiencies I can start to use.

Right now I’m processing everything using Adobe Camera Raw. I am still in awe of what can be done using 5.5. For many images I don’t even open Photoshop at all, but just do everything through Bridge and ACR. I take half the time now compared to one or two years ago, but, at the same time, features like Adjustment Brush and Spot Removal mean that I am taking longer with each image due to the finessing that is now possible.

I have also been revisiting images taken years ago as I prepare my Tanzania book and have reaffirmed the importance of shooting Raw. Loading up and processing 7-year-old raw files from my Minolta Dimage 7i has been a wonderful experience. Yes, they are grainy-looking, but the power of ACR now compared to then has led to the same images being revitalized and reinvented in a new way.

Image quality is absolutely key for me and although I can’t afford full frame – I’m going to work as hard as I can with what I have to maximize image quality – something I have always believed right back to my film days. It is for this reason I have always shot raw – even when the write times were  20 to 30 seconds per shot. It is certainly paying off now!

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If you’re looking for something photographic to do, visit the dpReview Challenge page and enter a few photos.

My Art of Earth series continues with “My Own Backyard” opening for entries Thurs 26th Nov.

Good luck, have fun – and learn from viewing photos by other photographers!

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