TALKING IMAGES 56 – THOUGHTS FOR THOSE NEW TO PHOTOGRAPHY: 2 – RAW VS JPEG

 

(Click onto any of these images to open a larger version in a separate window)

Some years ago, I put out some posts specifically aimed at those just getting interested in photography, just starting out.  I tried to think of things that might be useful to them – and not just in terms of technique, but also in ways of thinking about photography, attitudes, questions that might arise, etc.  I most certainly do not know all there is to know about photography, but I’d like to try something similar again and – as always – I’m happy to take questions >>> with the caveat that, as already mentioned, my knowledge is not exhaustive.

But always remember, these are only my views and opinions: others may well think differently, and equally validly.

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EARLIER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

POST 1: The Main Mantra: there are no rights or wrongs in photography, only individual photographers’ differing opinions.

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RAW CAPTURE VERSUS JPEG – THE PROS AND CONS

Many cameras can capture both raw and jpeg image files, even simultaneously, and the debate about their relative merits has rumbled on for years, with die hard supporters on both sides.  However there is a very simple distinction between the two, which really centres on how the resulting images are going to be processed – or not processed –  post-capture.
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Jpegs contain only the information from your camera’s sensor that relates to the actual image at the point of capture.  And so they can provide excellent images of the scenes that you have photographed as the camera saw them at the point of capture, but they cannot be used to significantly alter those images after capture – they simply do not contain the necessary data.  So you might use the jpeg format if you do not want to subject your photos to significant post-capture processing but are happy with the photos your camera produces – which you can then post straight onto the web, or get printed, etc.  And my advice would be to opt for top quality jpegs, to get best quality images.

So jpegs are useful in various situations where:

  • you don’t want to put in a lot of time on post-capture processing of your pictures;
  • or you want to shoot large numbers of images in a short time, including using motorised shooting;
  • or your photos are only going to be used on the internet;
  • or you plan to make only smallish prints, if any.

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In the past, raw files were capable of producing much better quality images than jpegs, but this is no longer the case – many cameras can now produce very good jpeg images, Olympus and Fujifilm in particular being notable for this. 

But raw files contain BOTH the information necessary to create a top quality image of the scene being photographed, AND a lot of OTHER information too – everything that the camera has recorded in fact.  And the point here is that this OTHER information can be used, if desired, to produce a version of the image that differs substantially from what the camera has recorded, and maybe from reality too.  So raw files are really of more use to those who regularly subject their images to post-capture processing, those who are NOT looking for “something nice straight out of the camera” – and the point should be made that raw files, however well captured, can often look dreadful straight out of the camera, they often require some adjustment to make them even look presentable, let alone the work needed to transform their images into “something new”.   

I never shoot any format except raw, simply because I always want to have the maximum possible, post-capture processing flexibility, in case I need it.  Raw is also useful in various situations where:

  • low light levels necessitate the use of high ISOs but image noise needs to be kept to a minimum;
  • or images have particularly high tonal range, i.e. between very dark and very light areas;
  • or adjustments to colour temperature (i.e. white balance) may be made after capture;
  • or high quality black and white conversions are planned;
  • or large, high quality prints are planned.

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ARCHIVE 516 – WOMAN IN THE FOG (MONO)

 

 


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Woman walking down the Wells Road in south Bristol on a foggy morning; 13 Mar 2014.

The G11 produces images that are already below full (i.e. 35mm) frame in size, and this is a substantial enlargement from one of those images.  Hence image grain has played its part here, and I’ve added to this with grain from SEP2.   This is a dank, foggy morning, all things are diffuse, and this very visible grain adds to that effect.

Where is she going?  She is hurrying down the pavement and, first drawn to that great catapult of a Plane tree, my eye is then drawn left to her – she and the tree are both very dark objects surrounded by light.  She is the stark, central point between the converging lines of the pavement and its attendant trees, which are dissolving off into the distance.  She is headed into that convergence.

The dark mistiness of the road is also headed down that way (with ghosts of buildings just visible over on the right), and a line of road markings, the brightest things in the frame, confirm that direction.

And what of her?  She is hurrying – to work probably, or to some appointment perhaps.  The morning was not really cold, but her coat, wide-brimmed hat and boots add to the inclement effect.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: Canon G11 PowerShot at 28mm (equivalent); 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset.

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ARCHIVE 507 – PHOTOGRAPHER (MONO)

 

 


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Photographer on top the East Cliff at West Bay, Dorset; 21 Apr 2015.

Having climbed the really quite steep path palely visible on the far left, a woman pauses to look back westwards, taking a photo perhaps of the view over the tiny coastal resort of West Bay and the wonderful coastal scenery beyond.  Her companion – who may be as frustrated and bored with her “artistic pauses” as many photographers’ companions are – digs his hands into his pockets and stalks on along the path, which passes to the right of the wire fence.

I like this picture for its simplicity, and also for the impression it gives of Tiny and Fleeting Humanity against the dark, brooding, massive and far longer term Natural World.  I’ve intentionally made the silhouette to emphasise this distinction, but I value the path’s pale rocks because they provide some sort of border to the image on that side.  And the featureless blue sky is left untidy with a contrail and gulls, both of which could have been removed, because they add some interest and closure on the right.

And has she seen the glint of the long lens on my thundering great tank of a Nikon, and so is photographing, me photographing her, photographing me … “and so on, ad infinitum“, if I can paraphrase Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)?  Or is she (hopefully …) of a more artistic bent, and going for what the French call a vue generale?

Finally, the cliff’s stark edge forms the profile of a human visage that is looking up to the right – forelock, eyelashes, nose, lips, and maybe double chin or Adam’s Apple too, they’re all there –   but even I have not the gall to suggest that they be thought of as a cliff face.

Click onto this image to see a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Structure Harsh preset.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 29 – “AFRICA”

 

 


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Young Luo woman on a farm near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

I like half faces –  sometimes they can project the character of the person more than a full face portrait might.  This picture says ‘Africa’ to me – I like her dark, glistening skin, and the bright contrast brought by the pure white necklace.  Vague green and yellow patterning behind her projects a  green tinge onto the side of here face, which also gives the shot atmosphere.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: Olympus OM-1; Agfa CT18 colour slide film.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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BRISTOL 174 – STREET SCENE 14

 

 


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Other images in the Bristol Street Scenes series are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 .  Searching on the “street” tag (below here) will also find these posts.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 800 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 03 profile; Bedminster, south Bristol; 21 Jan 2020.
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ARCHIVE 501 – PEOPLE LAUGHING (MONO)

 

 


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People laughing; 24 Mar 2012.

Guests at a party, laughing at a speech.  My gaze is taken into the photo, down the “narrowing corridor” formed by the four, nearer faces, and ending up on the woman and partly seen man sitting up against the wall. 

I especially like the couple in the “second row” of these faces.  They are a couple and thus know each other well >>> and the person making the speech has just said something that has made the man explode with laughter >>> so that his partner is looking over and smiling with delight at him – a wonderfully human moment.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 24mm; 400 ISO; diffused, bounced flash;  converted to mono and further manipulated in Silver Efex Pro 2.

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BRISTOL 171 – STREET SCENE 11

 

 


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Other images in the Bristol Street Scenes series are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .  Searching on the “street” tag (below here) will also find these posts.

Click onto the image to open a much larger version in a separate window – definitely recommended.

Technique: TG-5 at 38mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Modern 01 profile; Bedminster, south Bristol; 21 Jan 2020.
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ARCHIVE KENYA 19 – MAASAI WOMAN 2 (MONO)

 

 


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One of two Maasai women that we met as they walked together across the open grasslands of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, amidst the large mammals – Elephant, Lion, Hyaena, Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Leopard, Aardvark, Cheetah, Gazelle, Baboon, Giraffe, Black Rhinoceros and so on – that are an integral and accepted part of their everyday lives; April 1979.

Inevitably being effected by western culture to some extent, many Maasai still lead fairly traditional lives. I have lightened the whites of her eyes, to give the photo more punch.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

The portrait of the other Maasai woman is here .
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THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.
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ARCHIVE 492 – “HEAR THAT, FATman? YOU’RE NOT BEAUTIFUL UNLESS YOU’RE SLIM!”

 

 

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Someone of maybe my own years (and bulk?) gazes at a beauty stereotype in a slimming emporium’s window, in Penzance, Cornwall; 25 Sept 2012.

Here’s something that can get me reaching urgently for my dictionary of Anglo-Saxon profanity!  We think we’re free but we’re certainly not.  We want to fit in, we want respect and admiration – envy even – from our friends, neighbours and peers, and so we are prey to all the latest fashions, role models, celebrity recipes, diets, gimmicks, cars, buzzwords and other facile stereotypes.

Well, OK, this lady and I would very probably be healthier if we were  slimmer – but as to fulfilling an envied role model ->>> this blog’s called FATman Photos isn’t it??? …  not SLIMman Snapshots!!!

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 400 ISO.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 12 – MEMBERS OF A FARMING FAMILY (MONO)

 

 

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Members of a farming family, near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.  I very much like this picture because everyone is looking in different directions, which to me gives a very “real” air to the picture, i.e. they are not all posing for the camera.  The mother is posing for the camera but I think that her pose is one of the most placid, serene, genuine and friendly that I’ve ever seen – she is feeling absolutely at ease with both the Fatman and his camera, and is simply looking very calmly straight into the lens.  She gives the impression of being very self-possessed.

The young man on the left is smiling – and his smile, his averted eyes and the splayed fingers and thumb of his pale hand against his darker face add huge amounts to this shot.  Finally, the young child (a girl?), sitting on her mother’s lap, is certainly unposed – with her attention attracted elsewhere – but staring somewhere different to her older brother.  Using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro, I’ve darkened the top of the picture, down to the top of the young man’s head, to help ensure that the viewer’s attention is concentrated onto these three people.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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