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Recently I have been talking to professional photographers on the merits of using Lightroom and RAW files to their full potential.
I was, and still am, bemused by the response.
I was researching the prospect of providing an outsourcing service to photographers to process their RAW files in Lightroom. Either on site at their studio, on location or post production, in turn creating a better workflow and service.
As in the days of labs processing film why not consider outsourcing RAW file processing?
To my surprise I found from the photographers, that I spoke to, all shot in JPEG and were reluctant to shoot in RAW even with their hi-spec cameras.
One photographer showed me an early morning skyline city shot of where I live, Auckland. It was a jpeg.
The image was acceptable but it would have had more grunt given the processing options.
Shooting it RAW would have given him endless processing possibilities. Bring out detail, contrast, black and white, crop etc etc.
The reasons for shooting JPEG seemed to fit into the photographers type of photography and obviously works for them and their clients.
I guess that getting the job done to a level that is acceptable to complete the project in these cases was all that mattered.
However using Lightroom to its full potential as a develop / cataloging system was secondary.
However that still does not alter that workflow, efficient use of digital technology, protection of original files and maximum image quality were under achieved.
I’m not sure whether it is a skill level, lack of confidence or they are put off by the so called time involved in processing and getting the best from their images.
Presets in Lightroom can speed up processing time as we all tend to shoot and understand our cameras in our individual way.
I have created several Presets that suit my camera and can have a RAW image processed with one mouse click.
eg. A single location / studio will normally have a consistent environment. So once an image is processed, exposure, colour correction, lens correction etc has been established then a Preset can be created and applied to all remaining images. Minor tweaks can then be easily acheived.
Non of the photographers seemed to think that file size was not an issue. File size was always raised not realising that a RAW image can be processed several ways while in turn you are only changing Data and not pixels or creating extra image files and storage space.
Camera cards and hardrives with large capacity are common place and becoming less expensive per GB. If you are using a camera with high specs and dual processor computers, why not take full advantage of the technology?
They all used various applications to process their images but the workflow was not what I would call efficient.
Going backwards and forwards between Lightroom and opening a JPEG in Photoshop or DxO to do something else seemed awkward to say the least.
Apart from the risk of JPEG compression creeping in if you are not careful.
The simple non-destructive process works like this.
1. Download the RAW files from your camera to safe storage so you have the originals.
2. In Lightroom import the RAW files. I usually select all of them as any redundant images can be removed from the Catalog later. As you import, Copy to another folder that suits your filing system and convert to DNG.
3. Process and non-destructive edit the DNG files with embedded Metadata in the file.
4. Output to JPEG, TIFF, PSD.
5. At any stage go back to the DNG to make changes
With the DNG file any conversions to Black and White, Presets, Split toning or whatever can be achieved on a Virtual Copy / Snapshot without doubling up on files or moving out into Photoshop. Changes can be made at will with no destruction of the original.
In other words there is a turning back not a regretable point of no return.
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