Is it cheating if you tweak a RAW file to improve the balance of a photo?

Started 9 months ago | Discussions thread
sonic123 Forum Member • Posts: 70
Re: Is it cheating if you tweak a RAW file to improve the balance of a photo?

RJDG14 wrote:

I find on my DSLR that in bright, clear conditions it can be very difficult to get the whole of the image optimally exposed - usually either the ground will be exposed properly and the sky overexposed or the sky will be exposed properly and the ground underexposed. Using Adobe's Camera RAW tool in Photoshop, I can finetune my images to get the exposure balance correct and make the colour and contrast better (I use a profile that is designed to mimic the look of Kodachrome) without making my photos look unnatural. Here is a before and after example:

As taken:

After RAW white balance adjustment and Kodachrome colour profile:

Is this kind of manual RAW tweaking cheating, or is it something that photographers do a lot of the time to improve the appearance of their photos? I'm not trying to aim to make my photos unnatural looking, but rather do so to make them look as close as possible to how they appear to my eye at the time of taking them, since I find it very difficult in bright conditions for my DSLR to capture a scene by default in bright conditions exactly as it appears in real life. If anyone knows a custom balance option for Canon's firmware which can help achieve this, that would be great. I've already found that in bright conditions, setting the custom balance colour tone the furthest towards red (left) on my camera helps a little.

If you used a good light meter to take the photo and get the perfect exposure, would you also think that you were cheating?

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