1 Really Good Reason to Shoot RAW


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Last week while I was waiting for the Steel Wool Photo Shoot to begin, I had a few minutes to play with my new Neutral Density (ND) filters (a B+W 3-stop and 6-stop). This photo was taken with my 6-stop filter a little less than an hour before sunset.

Love Under the Pier | Coronado Ferry Landing | San Diego, CA
Love Under the Pier | Coronado Ferry Landing | San Diego, CA

Hidden in the Shadows

When I captured this image I didn’t realize that someone had declared their love on the underside of the pier. The heart was in the shadows and it was far enough away that I didn’t even realize it was there. It wasn’t until I was home and playing with my photos on the computer that I saw “Tim + Tracy” on the underside of the Coronado Ferry Landing.

If I had realized it was there I would have composed my image a little bit differently – the heart struck with cupid’s arrow would have been a focal point, and not quite so close to the edge of the frame, but I digress…

The #1 Reason I Shoot RAW

RAW images contain all of the data your camera is capable of capturing. Conversely, when you shoot JPG you are allowing the camera’s computer to decide what data is important, and allowing it to destroy whatever data it thinks is unimportant.

Think about that for a second…your camera DESTROYS data! You took the time to capture the image for a reason – every piece of that capture was (hopefully) put there on purpose, so why would you allow your camera to throw part of it away?!

With the image above, had I captured it as a JPG, I wouldn’t have been able to clearly see “Tim + Tracy” on the underside of the pier. I would have noticed graffiti, but the detail was in the shadows and required some manipulation of Lightroom’s ‘exposure’ and ‘shadows’ sliders to make the detail visible.

If I significantly lighten the shadows in a JPG photo, the result is often grainy, noisy, and ugly because the data just isn’t available. However, if I shot the photo in RAW there is a lot more flexibility. It enables me to move the exposure sliders a lot further before the result hits the ugly stage.

Maximize Your Options

When I process a photo I want to see ALL of my data (not just what my camera thought was important) – and that is why I shoot RAW.

Do you shoot RAW or JPG?

Tell me your choice and why you made it in the comments!

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