Sorry for the long delay in the blogs from the west, enjoyed several weeks in Scotland and Ireland (and will blog a few images in the near future — I promise), but for now I want to share an idea or two about digital cameras and photography. Most photographers recommend that cameras capable of photographing in the so-called RAW MODE (saving all of the data that the camera’s sensor can record) should be used to shoot raw files and the “developing” of the file done in post-processing with the raw developer supplied as software with the camera. Since digital cameras can not develop the raw in-camera, most can’t anyway, the camera needs something else to show on its LCD screen, thus the camera saves a small jpeg file or “thumbnail” with the original raw. Most digital cameras also let you set camera jpeg processing defaults as well, so what you see on the camera’s LCD is a processed jpeg. For the above image and several others taken last evening near sundown on the Oglala National Grasslands, I’ve used the jpeg files, NEVER OPENED THE ACCOMPANYING RAW FILE. The Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera I’m currently using can be set to save a jpeg and a raw for each exposure. My jpeg defaults, set in the camera’s menu are: color: Vivid; contrast: +1; sharpness: 2 (too much); and with the Sony camera I can also set something called “Dynamic Range Optimizing (DRO) which in this case I’ve defaulted to “DRO auto +4″.
DRO is unique, possibly to this camera, although I’m sure most of the upper-level DSLRs from other makers have something similar. DRO can only be applied to an in-camera jpeg, again because the camera can not “develop” a raw file, that requires the post processing software. DRO in the camera I’ve used here offers a really enhanced dynamic range — opening dark areas and preserving textures in the very bright areas of the image. For night cityscapes, for example, it is almost impossible to use all of the range of raw development sliders to develop the raw file to “match” the great looking DRO jpeg. So in some cases, I’m shooting with the camera defaulted to shoot a raw and a jpeg at the same time.
So whatever defaults that you set to your jpeg recording camera will be what you see on your LCD, and when you open the files to email or continue with post processing. AGAIN AS WELL, IF YOU SAVE A JPEG, WHICH IS A SO-CALLED “LOSSEY” FORMAT, MEANING THAT EACH TIME IT IS SAVED IT IS COMPRESSED AND DATA IS “THROWN AWAY” THE FILE GETS SMALLER AND THE QUALITY GOES DOWN. I try to save jpegs as tiff files, saving at least the original data from further compressing. SO SET YOU JPEG DEFAULTS to give yourself the file qualities that you would like to see. Perhaps ‘VIVID’ is too pronounced in my defaults, but for fall color I sure think they look fine, and I don’t add any post-processing sharpening to the file because the jpeg default is currently set to level 2 sharpening. Normally, preparing a smaller file for the internet from a raw file, sharpening is normally required since file size reduction and other steps in the raw processing appears to “soften” somewhat the resulting image.
Anyway, play around with the defaults in your jpeg menu, see the difference that can be produced, you can even select b&w or sepia, for example, but I’d normally think it would be better to save the original in color and convert to something else post-processing.
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS COPYRIGHT ROBERT GRIER PHOTOGRAPHY, not the automatic copyright marker I forgot to change before downloading this blog