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New to Raw (and struggling)

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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 09:50   #1
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New to Raw (and struggling)

Hi - As already explained in a previous post I am a student wishing to take up Media studies and Photography.
I am trying to learn how to process Raw files and with this in mind have downloaded trial versions of Photoshop CS5, Aperture (Apple) and also have the Canon DPP software that came with my camera.
However I have little knowledge on how to process Raw files or the best way to proceed with regards workflow.
I have tried reading various books, magazines etc but most seem to assume a certain knowledge that if i'm honest I don't have at this stage.
I have 101 questions but don't want to bore everyone so a little help with getting me started would be very much appreciated.
In particular I would like help with the following -
* Processing - At the moment at least I am opting to shoot in both Raw + Jpeg. However I do not understand how to process a large number of photos taken at any one time.
How can I batch process lots of photos which although taken on same day probably require different exposure & sharpness adjustments etc.
* Camera Raw 6.0 - When I open a photo in CS5 it opens in CR 6.0. This allows me to adjust exposure ( not sure that it does sharpness) - before opening in CS5. My question is whats the purpose of this when you can open straight away in CS5 and make adjustments then ?
* With doing the above I then create an XMP file which then clutters up my folders. Whats the purpose of these and do I need them as I'l end up with 1000's of extra files.
* I'm guessing for best quality I should save ( best ones at least ) in TIF format. Does Jpeg developed from Raw offer better quality than working from Jpeg in the first instance.
* Previously when working with Jpegs the adjustments I made were normally 1/ Exposure & contrast 2/ Cropping 3/ Sharpness 4/ Cloning or dust specks etc.
I never used layers but believe I should probably be doing so.
When using the above adjustments is there a correct sequence these should be done in ?

Apologies for such a long winded post but I want to start off on the right foot regarding Raws and can't find info written in simple terms that a beginner like myself can understand.
I would be grateful for help on any of the above or where I can obtain easy to understand info to help me start.

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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 10:13   #2
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Pete, I'm in a similar situation. Been dabbling with RAW for a while, but still have a way to go.

I get the feeling that you develop your own workflow to suit your style of photography, but agree that some things should be done at certain points in the process to optimise final image quality e.g. sharpening is done towards the end of the process.

An option is, if you have a favourite photographer/s, try to find out and emulate what they do. As confidence builds you will no doubt alter your workflow to suit your own ends.

This guy is respected, and has his own website/forums. The 'articles' section has some useful tutorials on workflow using Adobe Photoshop.

See here:

Youtube is also worth a look for short video tutorials on various aspects of pp.
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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 19:31   #3
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To answer some of your questions not in the order they were asked!

XMP files hold the adjustments you make to the RAW file. When you use Camera Raw to make adjustments it adds tweaks to the data held in the RAW file but doesn't change the data. Those tweaks are saved in the XMP file. When you re-open a RAW file ACR will look for the XMP file and reapply your tweaks allowing you to carry on with the RAW processing, if you delete the XMP or move the RAW file without moving the XMP then you will start anew when you open it in ACR all you adjustments are forgotten. A way around this is convert the RAW files into Adobe DNG files this way the RAW data and the XMP data are held in a common envelope.

Processing RAW images in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) is an entirely different thing to processing them in Photoshop. RAW processing applies tweaks and transformations to the data in the RAW file without actually changing the data, you can do exposure, white balance, sharpening, noise reduction... (click on the tabs below the histogram.). Once you open the files in Photoshop you are actually changing the pixels.

Batch processing RAW files can only be done ways, a) if you want to apply the same changes to all the images or b) you want the RAW developed as the camera thinks it should be. But remember the RAW file still hold all the data you can always undo any processing or add to it. For example if all your days images contain a colour cast you can run a batch to get rid of it and then work on each image further to get the best out of it.

If you are happy with your RAW processing done in ACR there is no need to save the file in any other format providing you keep the XMP file with it. If you go on to further edit the image in Photoshop then save it as a 16-bit tiff or psd, you are now playing with the pixels and those changes won't be saved in the XMP. If you want to display the picture on the web then you will need to save it as a jpeg of the appropriate size for wherever you are uploading it, save this as a copy and leave your original alone.

If you are doing any adjustments in Photoshop always do it in Layers, it gives the ability to go back and change the adjustment and it allows you to add a Layer Mask restricting your adjustments to specific areas of the image.

Hope this helps, the key thing is to play about practise, practise, practise.

This http://www.photoshopforphotographers...s5/index2.html is a great Photoshop book and DVD.

Last edited by Mono : Sunday 11th December 2011 at 19:34.
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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 21:56   #4
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Possibly the easiest way to get to grips with raw files is to open them in DPP, check White Balance and tone down highlights if necessary then convert to a 16 bit Tiff file.
Open this in your editing programme, zoom it up to 100% to see any flaws that need attention, adjust levels to your taste - if in doing this parts of the image end up over/under exposed use the History brush to bring them back to what they were before you adjusted them, changing the opacity while doing this gives various levels of change, just experiment until you get what pleases you.
Do any cloning you think necessary and when happy crop the image to how you want it, now is the time to sort out noise problems.
Make a background copy by 'duplicating layer' and work on this, apply noise reduction to suit then switch to 'quick mask mode' and mask your main subject, if it isn't 'noisy', if it is use a lower opacity to lessen the loss of sharpness, switch to 'edit in standard mode' and a line of 'marching ants', appear around the masked area, you can do a bit more work on the background if necessary then select INVERSE from the SELECT menu and make any adjustments to your previously masked area, including sharpening, without sharpening the whole image. Save as a JPG file for display.
Dump the TIFF file if no longer needed, you can always make another from your original RAW file if necessary.
This is all a bit basic but will give a good idea of what's involved in shooting in RAW without loading the computer with too many programs, after a while you'll find what suits you best and settle on what programmes you need.
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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 22:56   #5
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"Camera Raw 101" by Jon Canfield
"Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers" by Ellen Anon & Josh Anon
"The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book For Digital Photographers" By Scott Kelby

The first two books have very good sections on how to use Camera Raw to process your images. Don't let the title of the second book fool you. Its one of the best books on how to use photoshop for any photographer.

As regards workflow, the last book is the best i've come across. I now do about 95% of my processing in Lightroom. Note that lightroom is really just a different interface on camera raw. For processing large number of files Lightroom is the way to go. I believe Aperture is similar but I'm a PC.
Canon EOS T1i/500D, 5D3, Canon 400mm F5.6L USM, Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 OS HSM, Tamron160-600mm USD VC,Canon 500mm f4L USM IS II Panasonic G3, G-vario 100-300mm OIS
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Old Monday 19th December 2011, 14:07   #6
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I'm using a 550d with 8gb card. I started with RAW + JPEG, but following advice, now shoot RAW only. This means an extra 50 images can be captured before the card is full.

Converting a RAW file to JPEG gives (very) roughly 2X the resolution of JPEG shot directly at max. resolution. I brought this camera because once you start to crop your pictures, resolution drops like the proverbial stone eg 2.5MB to 325KB or 12.1MB to 2.5MB

I assume batch processing will apply the same criteria to every photograph, such as convert all selected RAW to JPEG

Last edited by kennethwfd : Monday 19th December 2011 at 14:12.
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