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Alley Cat's tips to great photography


Before is what came out of the camera, after is the edited version making the photo brighter and more colorful. Click on the final image to see the end result

Follow this column for photography techniques and advice from Alison Watkins.

Chapter 11: Shoot in RAW

The glory of using a DSLR is the control it allows you; you can control the settings, the lenses, the buttons and even the files. It may not seem like that big of a deal to be able to control the file type and size but it’s the difference between a newb and seasoned photographer.

Some options for the files are various sizes of JPEGs, ranging from small to medium to fine. The best choice for your camera to be set on is RAW+Fine JPEG because this gives you the best JPEG and more flexibly with your images. When taken these photos have the extensions .nef (which is Nikon while other camera companies use other extensions) and .jpeg. After uploading to a computer to edit there will be two of every photo, one RAW and one JPEG.

A photographer can live off JPEGs but a RAW image is a lifesaver; just in case you had the camera set wrong but the picture was an once-in-a-lifetime catch. After a JPEG is opened, edited, and saved time and time, again it will start to lose quality, but with a RAW file will not lose quality.

A RAW file is limitless... well almost. With a RAW file you can use Camera Raw, a powerful program by Adobe to dive deeper into far spectrums of the histogram. Adobe Lightroom is based off of Camera Raw’s abilities; it just depends on the program you use.

Once an image is open in Camera Raw you can edit the blacks, whites, shadows, highlights, and even temperature. Color correction can be done by changing temperature to make it look more natural than the way it was captured. The term “temperature” is relating to how “cold” or “warm” the photo appears.

Most sliders go from -100 to +100 and start at zero. I normally start by going to each extreme to see what my limits are in a photo. The sliders will be different for every photo. There are some extra sliders for contrast, color, and exposure. Exposure is a great slider to mess with first because then if the histogram is practical, then the rest of the edits are not as extreme. If you are editing a photo to be black and white, then it’s best to make saturation -100, and possibly crank up the contrast and clarity for an epic effect then edit as normal.

Even if a photo looks perfect on the camera just the slightest amount of editing can make all the difference. Anyone can download the necessary programs free for one month on a trial basis, just go to Adobe's website for more details.

Next week I'll be discussing contests big and small. Check back at the same Alley Cat time, same Alley Cat channel!


Alley Cat's
Photo Tips


Start shooting
Sunrises and Sunsets
Black and White
Long Exposure
Shoot in RAW
Back Button Focusing
The Challenges of      Sports Photography
Studio Photography
FX and DX
Street Photography
Painting with Light
Bokeh vs. Blurry
Tripods and Mounts

-Motion Photography

-Naming and Organizing
-Printing and Resolution
-Paid Gigs
-Gadgets and Gizmos


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