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Digital Processing Workflow

From OCAU Wiki

If you're using a Digital SLR, more than likely you'll be shooting in RAW mode. RAW allows you to perform many more tweaks to your pictures in post processing than if you shoot in JPG mode. It's also likely that a JPG produced on your PC from a RAW image will be higher quality than that produced by your camera.

There are many different RAW formats - pretty much one for every manufacturer. Because of this, you will more than likely want to convert your photos into another format for post processing, viewing and printing.

A general digital processing workflow might look something like this:

  • Copy your RAW files from your camera to your PC
  • You may at this point like to convert your RAW files to the Adobe 'standard' DNG format. There is a free converter available from Adobe. Other than a more standard format, DNG files are up to 50% smaller than some manufacturer-specific RAW formats
  • Use a RAW converter (see Photography_Software) to browse your pictures. Some converters such as Lightroom and RSE will allow you to rank your images for easier navigation.
  • Make adjustments such as white balance and exposure to the images you plan to output
  • For images you would like to print, perform post processing on or publish to the web, convert from RAW to a non-compressed format, usually TIFF (16bit preferably, if your editor supports it)
    • For 'happy snaps' that will only be viewed on your computer, convert from RAW to JPG
  • Perform any post processing in your image editor of choice (see Photography_Software) on the TIFF images
  • You may like to save your changes in a format native to your editor (PSD for Photoshop, XCF for GIMP) so that extra information can be kept.

  • Once you are happy with your image:
    • If you intend to print it, Save a Copy as TIFF
    • For viewing on your PC, you may also like to save a full size copy in JPG format
    • If you intend to publish to the web, resize (a copy of) the uncompressed image, then save as JPG. Resizing a compressed (JPG) image can drastically reduce the quality of your photo. Also make sure the colour profile is set to sRGB, or else the web browsers will NOT display the image correctly.

Remember to back up your work. Hard drive space is much cheaper than the time you put into taking and editing the photos! Also remember, you don't need to convert every photo you take from RAW. Part of the art of photography is choosing what you want people to see - 15 near-identical pictures won't help convince your audience of your skill.


Dedicated Workfolw Software

The use of catalogging software such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Windows/Mac) or Apeture (Mac) will eliminate the manual conversion. These programs maintain a "catalog" in which all your original RAW/JPEG files are stored in. When you update their metadata / make image adjustments / add keywords ect, these application will add this data to the "catalog". When you export your images these catalog settings are applied to the original photo. These "non-destructive" editors will always keep your original RAWs/JPEGs intact.

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