Still Trying to Convince Myself on RAW

Started Jun 29, 2013 | Photos thread
Bruce Oudekerk
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Final thoughts...
In reply to Gary Eickmeier, Jul 2, 2013

When the great B&W photographer Ansel Adams would photograph a scene, it was not just about metering and then snapping the shutter.  He ‘pre-visualized’ in his mind what he wanted the finished output to look like…and often it was dramatically different than what the average viewer would imagine.  At that point he ‘placed’ those tones on the negative by metering the highlights and shadows and then he would ensure the proper negative density by expanding or contracting the dynamic range of that negative in its development.  Further creative manipulation would occur during printing.  Superficially, his prints looked like they had never been manipulated but this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Given his methodology I believe he would have embraced the digital age and the use of RAW capture with great enthusiasm.

Today as in the past, many photographers, (even many great photographers) forego much of this process except for ‘exposing correctly’ and ensuring the definitive capture.  The rest of the image output process is perfunctory.  If this is the case…then Jpeg photography can be generally satisfactory.

And this is also why there is still such debate over the RAW vs Jpeg issue.  The point here is that almost all that has been said in this very long thread is true and it boils down to how the creative process takes place.  Good photography, like all art, entails a very complex set of concepts that needs to come together as a whole.  What is intrinsically important to some, isn’t even on the distant horizon for others.

But with all that said, I have been an avid photographer for about half a century and a casual conversation about cell phone photography is having a profound impact on me.  Ironically it is not in the equipment I use but in what I want my digital photographs to look like.  So its isn’t so much that I now have more sophisticated tools to manipulate my images (which is true) and not so much that I now have more sophisticated skills to manipulate my images (which is true also) and not so much that RAW allows more leeway to manipulate my images (which is true) but that RAW is allowing me the luxury of using old photographs and imparting a new creative vision of what they should ultimately look like.

Bruce

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