Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why shoot in RAW... and is white balance all that important...

Well last night was a final night of another photography class. It was a great night with a wonderful photo shoot with a couple model hopefuls building their portfolio. I like to bring in someone for the students to shoot so that they can get some experience shooting portraits of people using the lights and backdrops that I have gotten so far. Of course I always need to get in there to get a few shots myself. It is a little frustrating though since the time is mainly for them. So I am jumping in for a brief moment and then back out again. Sometimes that means I get less than perfect shots. One way to protect from lost photos is to shoot in RAW. RAW is a file format that is basically all the raw data (thus the name) that the camera captures with very little adjustment. The other way to save is in JPG. I will write about that in a future blog. The nice thing about RAW is that you have a lot of control to adjust some very critical things after the fact, mainly exposure (brightening or darkening) and white balance. Here are a couple examples (btw I was shooting last night to get both RAW and jpg files).

Here is one shot that I got that I really loved. This one actually is not all that bad either. The exposure is pretty good. Knowing the shoot though I know that it is just a tad yellow, in other words, the white balance is off. Well this is the jpg file. I could adjust colors, but it is difficult, and I never seem to get it right working with the jpg file for this. But when I open the RAW file I get a tool that comes up and allows me to make some adjustments. Tonight I am working with the GIMP, which is a free tool. I normally use Photoshop Elements, but am trying to learn the GIMP more because I get a lot of questions about it. So, I open it up, and make a slight white balance adjustment. The adjustment tool looks like this:

The bar listed Temperature is where you can adjust color temperature. If you want to adjust exposure you would use the one next to the black and white + and - square. So I touch the white balance down just a tad and get:
Now here is the interesting thing with this. The second photo is more "correct" for what it was suppose to look like. The colors are more correct. But sometimes you might want the warmer look. Well who is to say you have to be true to the original colors? This is art after all. I could also hyper saturate the color, add some posturizing, and come up with an incredibly artsy photo.

So you want to make the photo your own, but keep in mind that if you shoot in RAW you have a lot more control to begin with. That way if you have a shot that is too dark or the color temperature is wrong then you can give it a shot and see if you can easily get what you wanted to begin with.

One shot I had was really off for color, and I did not like it at all.

In my eye they just look jaundiced and in serious need of a visit to the doctor or something. It is not flattering at all. It is not as bad as some I have had in the past, but it still just did not work. I should have done a custom white balance on my camera before shooting (a different blog entry). Well after some real basic tweaks what I got was:

Much nicer. I am still thinking I might crop it a little tighter, but not sure. I always fuss over my photos so much trying to decide what looks the best. I don't know if I will ever be totally happy, but maybe that is why I will continue to get better at my art and craft. Here is one more photo that I liked right off from the shoot.

I did not do much with this one other than adjust the white balance and bring up the exposure (a fair amount this time - gotta watch that exposure meter in manual). I am really torn about it. I think I need to get rid of the white space on the right side of the photo, but not sure. Maybe I need to print a sample image on a full sheet of paper to see it bigger to just get a better feel for it.

Well I am hoping these two will let me do another shoot with them, this time without the class. That way I can concentrate on my shooting. They were both wonderfully fun to shoot, and I was just dying last night wanting to kick the students out of the way and go full out. I have had such precious little camera time lately I am just dying.

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