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Straight Out Of Camera
I had an interesting question at the last open studio. Someone asked me if my images as printed were "straight out of camera." People often want to know what, if any, post processing I do on an image. I recall one visitor to the studio suggesting that I had heavily doctored the colors in the first image below. I assured him that those were the colors I saw that day. I don't heavily edit my images, and none of them have been worked over in Photoshop, but if you shoot raw files as I do, you've got to do some amount of post processing. The reason for this is that unprocessed raw files can look rather flat and lifeless. JPEG files, on the other hand, have actually been processed in camera to give a certain look.
The benefit of shooting raw files is that they contain a significantly greater amount of information than a JPEG. This allows you to adjust the shadow and highlight areas of the image much more effectively. You can also adjust white balance in post with raw files. If you want to achieve realistic skin tones, something we humans are hyper-critical about, you are much better off shooting raw.
It's important to realize that the image you see on the camera LCD display is actually a small JPEG image, so it is a "processed" image. You aren't actually looking at the raw file on the LCD. When I'm out shooting and I look at an image on the LCD I am looking at a rough approximation of what the final post-processed raw file will look like. I suspect if I were seeing an unprocessed raw file I'd be unimpressed and wonder what was wrong with my camera.
I thought it might be interesting to show some before and after photos of unprocessed raw files and post-processed raw files, using my typical adjustments. I'm not going to go into details about what I actually adjust, because I think you'll see that it's really nothing special. Typically I'm adding a small bit of contrast and bringing up some of the shadow areas. If I spend five minutes on an image, that's a lot of time.
So here they are, the before and after images of a couple of my Big Woods photos.
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