Sunday, 1 January 2012

Welcome my fellow bloggers!

For the time has come for me finally join the Blogging community.

This blog will mainly focus on photography, giving personal opinions and will also provide some ideas for photographers.

Please feel free to read my blog and don’t be scared giving your opinion.

If you would like to view some of my photographs, please visit DeWildere. The site is currently undergoing an upgrade, but can still be visited.


The RAW behind Photography

Like any other photographer just starting, I had to make a choice on which type of camera to buy. I recently bought myself the new Nikon D5100 twin lens package. My personal opinion about the camera is exactly what you can expect… What an amazing camera! Whether you are a newbie or just starting to become a professional, this camera is probably suited for you.

Yes, most of the people complain about the price difference between the Nikon D5100 SLR and the Canon EOS 600D SLR camera. My personal opinion: two words…. Photo Quality. And that is all that I’m going to say…. If you want to know more, please read this review done by Now, back to the topic…

I saw on my camera that there is a function to change the file format between JPEG and NEF (RAW)… The  questions that came to my mind were: What is RAW and what is the difference?

When you take a picture, your camera records the light that it is exposed to as digital data. When your camera is set on JPEG format, the processor of the camera converts the digital data by altering the lighting, colours and sharpness according to preset factory settings to produce the JPEG image. A RAW file is just the unprocessed data. This gives the photographer the ability to set the lighting, colours and sharpness to what he/she thinks is best. The best thing about RAW files is that it never changes! This allows you to return to the original photo as shot with your camera (camera sensor).

Figure 1 and 2 represents one photo that I took (on auto-mode) by setting my camera to save the data as “NEF(RAW) + JPEG”. This allowed my camera to convert the original data to JPEG, but more importantly, also keep the original data as it is.

           Figure 1: JPEG                                     Figure 2: NEF (RAW)

As one can see, there is a significant difference between the two. On my side, I only opened the RAW file in Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended and saved it as a JPEG. The program converted the data according to its factory settings. No further adjustments were made. Figure 3 and 4 is another example; the only difference is that the camera was on manual mode.

          Figure 3: JPEG                                     Figure 4: NEF (RAW)

So, instead of leaving the adjustments for the factory settings to produce an image, you as photographer can do it yourself, giving you your own satisfaction. One should remember that using RAW files and adjusting only the  the three parameters mentioned above is not manipulating a photo to present a false image. Adjustments are made over the entire image. Most people uses photo editing software to adjust sections within an image, therefore creating an image that is not true. Figure 5 illustrates the effects photo editing software can have to produce a false image. 

                            Figure 5: Effects of photo editing software.

So what are the down sides using the RAW way?
  1. The first thing to know is that some photo viewer software doesn’t open RAW files. For some software you can download a plug-in to allow RAW files to be accessed. Fortunately, you can download a great photo viewer called Picasa 3
  2. You don’t need special skills or extra equipment to shoot in RAW, but to process a RAW file takes a bit longer than a normal JPEG file.
  3. The size of the RAW file is much larger than the normal JPEG. The JPEG size of one of of the two photos that are shown above is approx. 4.8 Mb, but the size of the RAW file of that photo is 14.5 Mb! This shows that when the processor of the camera converts the data, it deletes the data that it didn’t use. And when one wants to restore a photo in the future, one can’t because some of the data is lost.
To conclude: “One shouldn’t see RAW as cheating. It is just the evolution of the traditional darkroom – modern way of making the kind of adjustments that will turn average snaps into inspiring images.” – Digital Photo Magazine.