Behind the Camera: The Magic of Shooting RAW

Ever hear the tip to shoot photos RAW? I heard that a lot. I didn’t understand why at first but I tried it out. I understand it now.

What is RAW?

It’s an uncompressed file.

“RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. When shooting in a format like JPEG image information is compressed and lost.” (Rob Lim)

Digital Photography School: RAW vs JPEG

I started shooting RAW when I discovered the magic of black and white photography.  If you know you’re going to edit the photo later, this file format is best. Here’s why:

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago:

Great clouds but they aren’t as clear as I’d like them to be. Because I shot RAW, I can bring out, pretty much, all the lost data.

Here’ another example. Have you ever tried taking a photo and no matter what setting you used, you couldn’t capture the scene the way you saw it? Part of it was either too bright or too dark.

I was taking Oreo on a long walk when I came across this scene. I loved the sky and how the sunset hit the buildings. But, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get the scene properly exposed. I spent maybe 30 minutes trying before I gave up.

That scene taught me the power of RAW.

I mostly take advantage of RAW when shooting the sky. If you find yourself taking pictures at the wrong time of day, like in the early afternoon, the sun could wreak havoc on your photo. In the below shot, the sky is totally overexposed. The scene is just dead.

As far as I know, there isn’t much you can do about harsh sunlight except return to the scene later Also, I was with someone who wasn’t a photographer. I didn’t want to make them wait until I found the right settings. I fixed it in post.

RAW can make me a bit lazy, though. Sometimes, I don’t worry if the shot is properly exposed because I can fix it later. I give myself a mental slap. When taking a photo, I try to capture the scene the way I see it. If I can’t, then I fix it later.

Are you a photographer? 

More Resources

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Shooting RAW