Friday, 22 January 2010

Shooting in the RAW

Yesterday, talking to Steve Ray, we discussed the merits of taking pictures in RAW rather than JPEG. Now that Photoshop Elements will convert RAW without having to use another package, it is getting into the area of being simple enough for me to try out. The downside, of course, is the size of the files (3x bigger) and the fact that you can't review them quickly on the computer screen in Windows Picture Viewer. It may be the same on other cameras, but on the EOS 40D you can set it to take a RAW image and a smaller JPEG image along side that these can be opened easily. So today I had hoped to have a try at taking subjects in both ways and comparing the results, assuming I knew what I was doing in Photoshop.

For this plan to have any validity I would at least need it to get light so that I could use some reasonable ISO settings and shutter speeds, to give the pictures a half decent chance of being of use any way. It didn't get light or stop raining, so all I did was take a few pictures of birds at the feeder, while I froze to death at the open window. I used ISO 1600 and even then at f 6.3 the speed was only 1/200th sec. for this Greenfinch. Considering the feeder was swinging about I could have done with a faster speed. At least the Greenfinches are fairly still while they're feeding. It did give me some practice, but the book I've got is a bit thin on hints of using the adjustments you can make on the raw file before converting it.

The Great Tit was even more difficult, in that all I got was 1/160th sec and unlike the Greenfinch the Great Tit never just sits there. It gets there, takes a seed and is away within a second or two. This one made the trip about 7 times in a couple of minutes, each time taking the seed to the same nearby bush and eating it before returning. It's eating perch was of course half hidden. If anyone has any tips on a good book on using RAW images in Photoshop Elements please leave a note, at the moment I'm just fiddling in the dark!


Little Brown Job said...

I've dabbled with raw a couple of time, in fact I'm planning to give it another go this morning, spooky!

I've just got a book from the RSPB called Guide to Digital Wildlife Photography & that has a decent section on using Photoshop, although I don't use photoshop or elements myself.

For quickly viewing raw pictures, try Googles Picasa, I find this is great for sifting through a few raw images or hundreds of jpegs. It will even convert raw to jpeg which is what I'm doing at the moment, not having the time to fiddle about too much.


Jill said...

Tony, I don't use anything else but RAW and given time and a bit more testing I'm sure you will see the benefits. I think you were really testing it yesterday with the conditions you were taking your test shots with however That would have been difficult for any camera.

Like Paul suggested if you have Picassa on your computer you can both view and convert to j-pags but it is really very basic. Didn't your camera come with any conversion software sometimes they do. I think if you do a seach online you will find free conversion programmes out there and hopefully they would show you what can be achieved. I use Lightroom for everything I do and that is very easy to use.

The advantage really is the amount of post processing you are able to do but whether you want to spend that extra time or your hard drive can cope with the extra storage needed is another thing :o)

As always we really enjoy reading your posts each and look forward to plenty during 2010

Take care now


Tony Morris said...

Hi Jill,
thanks for that. I think that Photoshop Elements has all the necessary functions, but what I need is a bit of help or tuition as to how to get the best out of it.

Jill said...

Dear Tony, Photoshop Elements will have all that is necessary as you say. I found with me it was just time in the end and a lot of trial and error in working out what you need to do to change the White Balance and Exposure settings etc until you have an image you are happy with. In time it becomes second nature. I don't have a book sadly but I'd be happy to show you how I convert but as I don't use Elements I'm not sure that would be much help LOL. Keep at it I used to take RAW and j-pegs too until I was no longer doing anything with the j-pegs now I wouldn't do anything but use RAW. All the best Jill

Mark K said...

I also use a 40D and I recommend the RSPB book by Tipling, mentioned above. Lots of good advice in there.

If it helps, I've also written my own e-book on wildlife photography which includes a section on image processing. The examples use Photoshop CS2, but I'm sure a lot of them also apply to Elements. You can download it from: