RAW Images- Steps to a final image?

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by SanctuS, Jul 17, 2009.

  1. SanctuS

    SanctuS TPF Noob!

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    I don't want to get into a discussion about which is better, shooting in RAW or in a lossy, compressed format. I just wanted to ask, for those who do use RAW, what steps do you normally perform to the RAW image before converting to a TIFF or jpeg? I'm asking this because the only thing I actually understand how to do is adjust the white balance in ufraw. Any other adjustments are just guesswork on my part, and I don't even know exactly what they do.
     
  2. AlexColeman

    AlexColeman TPF Noob!

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    I do my conversion in LR, so just everything I can't do without a plugin in CS4
     
  3. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    - Open the the days work in lightroom.
    - Sort the days work in lightroom eliminating the photos worth nothing in the process fine tuning the cropping of each photo. (because sometimes a photo that's a throwaway is a masterpiece if it's cropped right).
    - Go through and for each photo do white balance fine tuning, any colour adjustments, if needed. Apply gradients etc as needed. If a photo needs extra work (noise reduction, removing of purple fringing, or it's good enough to justify giving it some careful photoshop treatment I flag it a different colour and move on).
    - I then go and put all the flagged ones through photoshop, noise ninja, photomatix, or whatever save as 16bit TIFF, and import them back.
    - I go through and upload some to the net maybe.
    - Then I export the remaining files to Best Quality JPEGs, and archive them.
    - Finally I delete the album, and then the folder of RAWs.
     
  4. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    I don't use "ufraw" so I can't refer to its controls directly.

    My convention is to use Photoshop, currently PS/CS4, with Adobe's own Camera RAW plugin. While every image requires somewhat different treatment, by basic adjustments involve:

    1. White balance: ACR usually defaults to a good setting but modest tweaks are commonly needed.
    2. CA (usually incorrectly considered "chromatic aberation" but is really "chromatic alignment"): The current ACR handles my camera using built in tables but some converters, like the older ACR versions, require manual settings. Its done by eye at a high magnification to remove the subtle color fringing seen best in the corners of the image.
    3. Sharpness and Noise: I group these because altering one affects the other. There is no one universal setting. Excessive noise reductions reduces sharpness, while excessive increase in sharpness increases noise. Images with lots of blank smooth areas (e.g. skies) suffer more from noise and tolerate lower sharpness. Images with lots of fine detail (e.g. grass, textured surfaces,...) suffer more from lower sharpness settings and the detail obscures noise artifacts. You have to hit the right balance for each image.
    4. "Curves" and clipping: I then make adjustments to the various controls that adjust the placement of tones in the histogram. I adjust the shadow limit, highlights and various expansion settings. In ACR these are the Exposure, Brightness, Shadow, Contrast, & Recovery controls.
    5. Saturation: Occasionally an image needs specific adjustment to the color saturation control. I find that my chosen default works for most images, but some need additional adjustment.

    I rarely make any other adjustments in ACR; instead I do them in Photoshop before saving as a PSD file. I make JPEGs and TIFFs from the PSDs only when they are specifically needed and these are altered specifically for that one specific use (email to a friend, post on a web site, ...). I do all of my own printing. I create altered versions of the PSD master files for each specific print size, when needed, with up/downsampling and sharpening appropriate for that specific print. The master PSD files have no output specific final sharpening performed and are not upsampled or downsampled; those steps are done only in the copies made for specific output types and sizes.
     

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