how to export as RAW in photoshop to work in Lightroom?

Started May 14, 2012 | Discussions thread
richardplondon Forum Pro • Posts: 10,532
sorry, long post

DF1 wrote:

so Im curious, how do YOU guys PP your panoramas?
what's your workflow like?

More or less the same as you at the front end: shoot a series of well-overlapping single Raw frames with locked settings (Manual mode generally) with a view to protecting the highlights, or else in very contrasty scenes I may bracket. I do not particularly fear hand-held shooting of exterior panos, but though possible it is hard to do well indoors. I do not carry the pano rig (I have a Nodal Ninja) and tripod with me at all often, let alone routinely. Panos are typically, for me personally, spur-of-the-moment :).

There is an aspect of practice and technique to doing this handheld, that does not come straight away. It helps if you can rotate by resting a particular knuckle, supporting a particular part of the lens, on a fencepost or something. I regard fixing the camera onto a standard tripod head without a pano rig in between, as a poor strategy if you want good alignment. Doing this actively forces the lens pupil to travel around an arc (IOW, guarantees you will swivel around the wrong point). This won't matter if everything seen in your final photograph is more than half a mile away!

I don't think there's a lot of point in bracketting Raw unless we are talking about doing so by several stops, in the context of a scene that is so harshly lit as to make you squint a bit, as you scan rapidly from darkest area to lightest area. It is possible to allow the camera to vary its exposure and to rely on the brightness blending in the stitch, but good results are far from certain this way, while a HDR stitch is more certain to cope... where you don't have a lot of subject movement going on.

I use PTGui Pro instead of Photoshop to do the stitching itself, which gives me an exposure fusion as well as a tonemapping option for HDR, as well as complete auto or manual control over many aspects of the stitch, with explicit control points, built-in masking of moving items affecting adjacent frames, and most importantly, a much wider choice of output projections than Photoshop's module provides. Also the ability to save the stitch settings and re-use them. It's all scriptable etc, but I have not gone into that depth with it myself.

I have absolutely no qualms about compromising on my intermediate format. I don't insist on 16-bit ProPhoto or Smart Object files, when we are talking about the components of a stitch which will combine into something greater than any one of them. I use LR to process all of the shots, and typically export as a bunch of full res high quality conservatively sharpened JPGs, and then stitch those into a single TIFF of a suitably generous (but not ridiculous) output dimension, and then import that into LR.

I don't much like to work this way with camera JPGs, though; this seldom works out as well for me (talking about non-HDR cases, where you do need that Raw dynamic range flexibility). Maybe if I was doing a lot of immersive HDR panos I'd get more to grips with making camera JPG work better for me in this respect.

My idea is to devote a lot of effort up front working as a batch from the orginal Raw (I love Autosync for this), in such a way that the component images are optimised so as not to need a lot of subsequent editability for general tone and hue.

This is easier overall, if you do need to alter something later. By also saving out the stitch settings that you achieve in PTGui, as a stitch project file, if you want to have another go or alter the underlying image processing in some large way you can re-export your Raws using altered processing, again working from the Raw data, overwriting the same output location - and then re-run the stitch program on those. Or you can re-run the stitch program on the same data using adjusted control points, and some additional subject masking, or whatever.

If on the other hand you just want to alter the stitch's global tone and hue in a small way you can do that quite simply in LR, onto the merged TIFF that you have previously made and then imported.

I don't output my stitch into JPG even if my intermediates are JPG; always TIFF. IMO you need that pixel editability. Also the JPG format hits its maximum pixel dimension limit far sooner than TIFF does.

I process into AdobeRGB in 8-bit usually. I very seldom significantly exceed the colour gamut of that, and by not using ProPhoto I don't feel that I require 16-bit... assuming my earlier LR processing has been close enough to the mark.


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