One of the things we’ve learned a lot about in this Photoshop class is color correction. I shoot in raw, for many reasons. Partially because I figure even if I’m not that great at post processing now, how much effort can it take to get better than the camera’s mini computer? So if I take them in raw, all the data is saved for later.

If you’re a bit of an information junkie like me, here’s a great article on raw files, and the pros and cons of shooting in raw. There are a lot of misconceptions about post-processing, and I’ve heard some people claim that if you use Photoshop, you’re cheating. Hm. Well, two things to keep in mind, both quoted from the above linked article:

A raw file is essentially the data that the camera’s chip recorded along with some additional information tagged on. A JPG file is one that has had the camera apply linear conversion, matrix conversion, white balance, contrast, and saturation, and then has had some level of potentially destructive compression applied.

Raw files have not had while balance set. They are tagged with whatever the camera’s setting was, (either that which was manually set or via auto-white-balance), but the actual data has not been changed. This allows one to set any colour temperature and white balance one wishes after the fact with no image degradation. It should be understood that once the file has been converted from the linear space and has had a gamma curve applied (such as in a JPG) white balance can no longer be properly done.

I quoted that specific point about raw files because it is so relevant to what I’ve learned in the past couple classes in my Photoshop class. I knew to some degree, but I didn’t understand how to make good use of Photoshop to properly make use of the data that the camera recorded. The camera’s guess as to the white balance of the world around us is not all that bad when using auto, but we can usually do better. The biggest argument in my mind for not shooting jpg (aside from the obvious loss of pixel data) is that using the processing power of our computers and the judgement we can make, we’re bound to be able to do better than the camera’s small chip applying a generalized algorithm.

So 20,000 something pictures in, I’m finally learning how to do an accurate white balance on my own. I still have plenty of room for improvement, but I’m excited nonetheless. And I signed up for the next class. Hopefully no one who finds navigating file systems a challenge will sign up!

chickensat ES
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