Introduction to Raw Editing
We talked about the three parts to Photoshop in our last lesson. We talked about Photoshop as the little ecosystem of Photoshop and what you get with Photoshop is going to be Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop. So for this lesson we are going to be focused primarily on Adobe Camera Raw as a Raw Editor and Multi-Tool for editing our images. It's very powerful, it's extremely powerful. I'm just going to start this out by saying in many cases you could probably do the bulk of your editing in Adobe Camera Raw and be very happy with it. But then we wouldn't have 18 more days of Photoshop. (audience laughs) So don't spend too much time here. I'm just kidding. (audience laughs) Adobe Camera Raw is awesome. You're going to see the sheer power of Adobe Camera Raw as we edit these RAW images. So, in this lesson, we're going to do: What is a raw file? I cannot talk about Adobe Camera Raw without talking about RAW files. I definitely cannot about this without RAW versus JPEG and giving you a v...
ery embarrassing story. And types of RAW files that you will see throughout the process of editing your RAW images. So what is a RAW file? A RAW file is unedited RAW data captured by your camera's sensor. Nothing is actually happening to that image other than the decisions that you make in that camera that get recorded onto the sensor. So things like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, those decisions that you make are the things that it's recording and nothing else is happening there. It's giving you for face value all the decisions that you made. Which are sometimes not very good, let's be honest with ourselves. This would be the most equivalent to basically what a 35 millimeter piece of film negative would be like. Not the print, but the negative. The actual RAW data that you would get from a 35 millimeter analog piece of film to then process your image under an enlarger to get a print. This is the digital negative. When you think about the RAW file, think about it as the digital negative. That with this file you can do all kinds of incredible things. So RAW vs JPEG now. So now you've got the little spiel on what RAW is, let's talk about RAW versus JPEG. Here's kind of an embarrassing story, a little aside. I do a lot of little asides. But this little aside was, in 2010 I was at Photoshop World and I was talking to Matt Witkowski, who is one of my really good friends now. And as we were talking about what I do and at the time it was HDR photography. And he goes, "So, you must shoot a lot of RAW files." And I was like, "No. I just shoot JPEG." And he goes, "Really?" And I was like, "Well, yeah, I mean JPEG's are good enough, right?" And he goes, "Well, I mean, you can do a lot with a RAW file." And I said, "Well, I don't even know what you can do with a RAW file." I said, "Every time I open a RAW file this box opens in Photoshop and I don't know what to do with it. It's got all these sliders and all these things, so I just by-pass it and just shoot JPEG." And he was just kinda like, "Oh, oop!" And that was eight years ago, okay? That was an embarrassing story from eight years ago. I guess if I had a really bad t-shirt designed for that it would be, "My RAW journey with JPEGs." (audience laughs) But, so I say that, and I open that up, it was kind of embarrassing for myself. I open that up because you might be in that position where you are shooting a lot in JPEG. And I don't want you to be scared of going into the RAW image. The first time you open a RAW file and this box called Adobe Camera Raw pops up, it can be very intimidating. Anytime Adobe pops up with a box that asks you a million questions, it's scary, okay? So, I'm going to give you a little bit of justification as to why you want to shoot in RAW. When you're shooting in JPEG, all of our cameras, no matter if it's Canon, if it's Sony, if it's Nikon, Olympus, Leica, whatever they are, if you shoot in JPEG that camera is going to do some things to that image to make it look as good as possible. They essentially process inside the camera what that JPEG is going to look like. Color correction happens. Noise reduction and sharpening happens. Exposure and contrast correction happens. Saturation adjustments happen. And even some white balance stuff happens within that JPEG. So that when you take that picture, they want to design that so that that picture comes out looking really good. So that you can be that person that says, "Look what I got straight out of the camera." Don't be that person. Especially when we start talking about RAW files. Now, RAW, on the other hand, is unedited RAW data. You get what the sensor sees from the decisions that you make within that camera with your aperture, your shutter speed, your ISO. However, we now have to do some of this stuff. And we have to consider doing some of those things that the camera would do. See, I'm an artist, I like control over the entire process from the very beginning to the very end. And a RAW file gives me the possibility to go into worlds of possibilities. Especially when we talk about the depth of a RAW file versus the depth of a JPEG. And we'll talk about why ... So, before I get too far ahead of myself, why shoot and edit in RAW? Well, the endless possibilities of RAW data. You can push them farther and get more out of them without breaking them. You can see what happens when you break a JPEG file, it starts to give you artifacts, it looks really nasty and dingy and pretty gross. Here's a good example. So this was a RAW file that I shot at Notre Dam. And I really wanted to get the stained glass. And this is a very difficult shot, because the stained glass is really bright if I got the interior in the right exposure, and if I got the stained glass right, everything else is really dark. But the most important element in here is getting the stained glass right. So if you look at this in terms of JPEG versus RAW, let's just take a little snippet of this area right here. And I'm going to show you what it looks like if this was a JPEG image and if it was a RAW image. So, as a RAW file, I increased my shadows, my highlights, my blacks so that I could get more of the area around the stained glass. And I hope you can see on the screen, because what you are going to find is minor color differences. Even in here there is going to be minor color differences. And even some detail that we lose inside those areas. You can see it right here, specifically. For this, you really can't try to look at the image holistically, you have to look at one very specific area. So if we look at just right here, in that little spot on the RAW file, you can see that there's a nice transition between highlights and shadows and there's even some detail and more color right there. When we go to the next one, we lose some of that color and it starts to blow out there. Because the JPEG can't handle being pushed to that extreme. A RAW file can handle being pushed to that extreme. And, as a matter of fact, if I wanted to push this file even further with that RAW, I definitely could. I've reached the peak, I've reached the max with this JPEG. I can't go much further. Now there will be times when you can test this. Shoot in JPEG plus RAW, and then drop your exposure compensation to like negative three. And just do this as a practice. And just go out into your back yard and just take a picture of a tree. Bring those both into Photoshop, bring them both into Camera Raw, put them into Camera Raw, and do the exact same plus three boost on both of them and what you'll see is that in the JPEG, more than likely, the JPEG is going to get some green and magenta artifacting happening in the areas where shadows were, whereas the RAW file will handle that more. And the reason why. Now there is a place for JPEG. So, before I get into the reason why behind that, the place for JPEG is, and this is something that's kind of debatable with some people that shoot JPEG for events and stuff like that. So if you're the type of person who shoots a thousand images, maybe JPEG is the right thing for you. That's if you are darned good with that camera. That you know yourself so well that you can just dial that in and get your settings perfect in camera every time, that's why I say it's available. Where I use JPEG is primarily for saving for web and for print. So JPEG does have a place here. I don't want you to just throw JPEG out completely because we do have a place for JPEG. Like I said before and possibly be for event photographers but there have been some events that I've shot over 300-plus images all in RAW and still edit them just as quickly as I would as if it was a JPEG, with some of the practices that I've developed through Bridge and Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop. So, while I say JPEG might have a place for those event photographers, I would also challenge those event photographers to still try doing it in RAW and seeing what they can come up with because they can push those images a lot farther if they made a mistake. So, types of RAW files. A RAW file out of any camera is going to have their own basically proprietary dot-something. So, Canon, dot-CR2. Sony, dot-ARW. Nikon, dot-NEF. An Adobe RAW file, though might be a dot-DNG. So you can convert any of these RAW files to a DNG or to a digital negative. And throughout this course, we are going to be talking about RAW files and we're going to be talking about DNG's, so don't get too wrapped up in this now. I've shown you, I don't know, let's just look at the camera profiles here. Four. Now within this dot-CR2 for Canon, every single Canon camera that takes a picture will essentially take its own raw file. So now you take this and its kind of like one of those law of exponential growth things, put the little thing up here, there's thousands upon thousands of RAW files out there. Even though they might just have a very simple suffix at the end, there might be one-thousand different types of Canon RAW profiles based on the camera that you're using, Regardless of what their suffix is or what you're using. no matter what it is, you're going to have to do some type of RAW processing. So, the digital negative, the DNG, DNG actually does stand for digital negative. But we have to consider all of our RAW files as digital negatives. That's our digital negative and we need a digital darkroom to process them. Adobe Camera Raw becomes our digital dark room. The positive in this, so in analog days, the negative was the film that you got out of your camera and the positive was a print. So I want you to think about JPEGs, TIFFs, or PSD files which are all file types in here as well. JPEGs, TIFFs and PSD files are positives. You can't technically, I don't think you can technically even really print a RAW file. A RAW file is a RAW file. It's just RAW data. So it has to be turned into something else in order for that thing to be printed and to be used. Especially if you're going to be putting onto the web. Try to upload a RAW file to the web. It's going to go, "What the heck is this?" So, JPEG, TIFF, PSD, those are all positives. And each one of these positives is probably more positive than the other. Because a TIFF will hold and retain a lot more of that RAW data than something like a JPEG. And a PSD would be for things that have layers in it.