5 reasons to shoot raw instead of JPEG

Phew!  I’m sure you all know the feeling of putting blogging on the back burner due to lack of time, lack of content, etc right?  Maybe it’s just me..  Anyway, I have been paralyzed by both of those dilemmas, and so I wanted to check in and dust off the cobwebs, so to speak.

I was out driving around town this morning and thought I would take a few minutes to show the differences between shooting in raw format vs JPEG.  Both formats can yield great images, but raw, while it certainly takes up a lot more room on your memory card, is so worth it.

And if you’re looking to take better images, or have more flexibility in your editing, the time to switch from JPEG to raw formatting is NOW.   Because you’re a badass and there’s nothing to be afraid.  Except maybe the money you have to spend on an additional memory card.  Unless that’s just me because I take 7,542,903 photos per session.  Also, I am a hoarder. 😎

Below I have two [almost] identical images, (it’s a beautiful area, but it’s also beautifully stocked full of drug addicts & crime so I tend to stay in the car when flying solo, hence the inconsistency) one shot in raw and one shot in JPEG.

Five reasons to shoot in raw:

  1. Because.
  2. Because.
  3. Because.
  4. Because.
  5. Because.

I wont lie, the scene itself is naturally picturesque and would look nice even if taken by a dinosaur iPhone 4.

But let’s look at the differences between the two images that were taken with the same camera settings and processed exactly the same (for those who use Lightroom, I copy/pasted the settings from one image to the other).

I warmed both images up a smidge.  The top image (JPEG) has a warmer tint to it overall, where the bottom one (raw) was warmed up to the same degree but still maintained a completely natural feel, whereas the JPEG comes out looking edited, and if you ask me, kind of tea-stained.

Meanwhile down here we have the warmed up raw image that actually looks warm, but maintains the cool green colors of this majestic ole Weeping Willow.

Not to say that a tea-stained tinge isn’t a nice touch– when you’re going for that. 

But when you want to better reflect what you saw when you took the photo & just warm up the parts of the photo that came in a little too cool in temperature  You want to do that but still keep the cooler, natural feel of the photo.

Think of it this way: adjusting the temperature of a JPEG is almost like putting a layer of film over the photo.  It’s like if you put plastic wrap over a printed image– the whole thing is covered.  Adjusting the temperature of a raw image is more like taking a brush and just going over the areas of the photo that need it, while still maintaining the overall feel of the image you created.  Does this make sense?

This may not be the technical description of the difference between raw & JPEG, but it’s how my brain sees it and describes it, so don’t hate. 😂

A raw image contains thousands more levels of brightness & allows much more flexibility for fine editing than a regular old JPEG that only contains 256 levels of brightness.

If you’re a hobbyist and you shoot in JPEG and that works for you, then by all means, keep going!  I don’t always shoot in raw.  If I’m not doing a session for someone and I’m just out and about in the city and have my camera?  JPEG it is.  It’s quicker, takes up less space, and it isn’t super important to me having those extra levels and the extra flexibility.

However, if you market yourself as a professional photographer, and take actual money from actual clients (and it’s a lot of money for something that doesn’t feel like it should be expensive) you owe it to your clients to give them the highest possible quality your camera can offer.  Not to mention when the money shot is slightly overexposed?  Guess which format is going to allow you to fix that more easily and without under exposing other parts of the shot?  Yep.  Raw.

Level up, shutterbugs! 📷

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