The importance of Raw

Thunderstorm over Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Thunderstorm, Ngorongoro Crater

It’s been a bright and sunny autumn this year in southern Ontario. Today is the first day of rain in weeks, it seems. At the same time, its been a busy autumn with guests, my book launch and the website overhaul (still on-going but will shortly be finished).

I think I need to work on streamlining image processing. I have a good system – one that I will write about one day – but it seems that for every hour I spend photographing, I spend at least an hour working on processing: editing, numbering, past-capture processing, organizing. It takes forever. I’m sure there are efficiencies I can start to use.

Right now I’m processing everything using Adobe Camera Raw. I am still in awe of what can be done using 5.5. For many images I don’t even open Photoshop at all, but just do everything through Bridge and ACR. I take half the time now compared to one or two years ago, but, at the same time, features like Adjustment Brush and Spot Removal mean that I am taking longer with each image due to the finessing that is now possible.

I have also been revisiting images taken years ago as I prepare my Tanzania book and have reaffirmed the importance of shooting Raw. Loading up and processing 7-year-old raw files from my Minolta Dimage 7i has been a wonderful experience. Yes, they are grainy-looking, but the power of ACR now compared to then has led to the same images being revitalized and reinvented in a new way.

Image quality is absolutely key for me and although I can’t afford full frame – I’m going to work as hard as I can with what I have to maximize image quality – something I have always believed right back to my film days. It is for this reason I have always shot raw – even when the write times were  20 to 30 seconds per shot. It is certainly paying off now!


If you’re looking for something photographic to do, visit the dpReview Challenge page and enter a few photos.

My Art of Earth series continues with “My Own Backyard” opening for entries Thurs 26th Nov.

Good luck, have fun – and learn from viewing photos by other photographers!

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