Exercise: RAW

Original JPEG image

Original JPEG image

I am still in the early stages with this exercise and so far I have only taken the ‘indoor’ images, but my initial thoughts are that there are few, but subtle differences between the JPEG and RAW files.  I had to revert to Elements to compare the 2 images because Lightroom only seems to be offering the RAW file even though I selected both RAW and Fine JPEG in the camera.  I could see that there were 2 versions of the image in the folder in ‘my pictures’ though and Elements allows me to look at both.

RAW file saved without adjustment
RAW file saved without adjustment

I felt that there was a slightly yellow tinge to the JPEG file and slightly more saturation compared to the RAW image.   The background in the RAW file is more accurate.  These images were taken during the day but with an overhead flash reflected into an umbrella and with a lamp below and to the front of the flowers, which was diffused using tissue paper.

Minor adjustments made in Lightroom
Minor adjustments made in Lightroom

The final image has had some minor adjustments made in Adobe Camera RAW in Lightroom and then saved as a JPEG file.  I reduced the shadows, increased clarity, vibrance and saturation slightly, and applied a small amount of sharpening.  Overall though, there really is very little difference between the images.

For the daylight image, I chose a walk in the woods on a bright day with my grandson riding ahead of us on his bike closely followed by the dog.  White balance was set at direct sunlight and exposure to manual.

Sam and Isla at Soudley Ponds
Sam and Isla at Soudley Ponds

I was quite surprised when I compared the RAW and JPEG images in how much difference there was, the RAW image appearing much cooler and with darker shadows than the JPEG file.  Of the two, I preferred the JPEG image and have had to make some adjustments to the exposure, lightened the shadows on the tree on the left and recovered some highlights in the dog’s coat before I had an acceptable image from the RAW file.

I went back to the Churchyard for the ‘high dynamic range’ image and chose a sunny spot amongst the headstones with the sun shining against the bark of a tree in the background.

Old headstones
Old headstones

I took several images with the exposure bracketed and chose one where I had measured the exposure from a light area rather than shadow as I felt it would be easier to recover the detail in the shadow than the burnt out highlights.  Again I was quite surprised by the difference in the RAW and JPEG images; the JPEG one being much lighter.  Clearly the camera is processing the image to what would be an  acceptable state and it seems to me that this is more noticeable in higher contrast images.  In order to get my RAW file to an image that I’m happy with, I have increased the exposure slightly and reduced the shadow, using the brush to lighten the right of the tree above the headstone.  I have also increased clarity and saturation slightly.  As with the indoor images, I found that I had to use Elements to compare the JPEG and RAW files side by side, but found Lightroom much more user-friendly when it came to processing the RAW files.


About Anne Bryson

I live in Gloucestershire with my husband Iain and West Highland Terrier, Isla. I enjoy golf, photography and my grandchildren, not necessarily in that order! Having completed a 10 week digital photography course with the Open University in 2010 and wanting to take photography further, I enrolled on the Open College of the Arts BA (Hons) starting with 'The Art of Photography' which I thoroughly enjoyed. Next came Digital Photographic Practice followed by People and Place. In April 2016 I progressed to level two with Documentary and in June 2018 enrolled on my latest OCA course, Landscape.
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