In this exercise I am to look at the advantages of raw while looking at these in perspective compared to what is offered by the highest quality jpeg. To do this I set my camera on a recent shoot to capture both raw and jpeg simultaneously. I then looked at four areas different scenes;
- Dynamic Range
- Local Adjustments
In each if these scenes I have both the original jpeg and raw file, and an edited version, both edited to get the same overall result using either Lightroom for the raw and Photoshop CC for the jpeg.
Edited Raw Edited Jpeg
Initially when looking at the original, unedited versions of the image there are a small number of subtle differences between the images, mainly when looking at the highlights and shadows, but also the colours of the image have small variations. For example the yellow in the top right of the image is slightly stronger in raw compared to its counterpart, which is very pale. This is also seems to be the case for the sky, although neither are particularly great the raw format image shows a more truer blur sky compared to a slightly more purple one in the jpeg image. In the case of shadows, looking at the foreground the jpeg is ever so slightly darker compared to the raw image it seems, while the saturation of the image is comparatively weaker in the original jpeg, which is shown in the yellow like mentioned above but also both shop signs.
When looking at the edited version of the images, before commenting on specific parts of the image, during editing these images it was certainly visible to myself that the control over the raw image was by far more effective, taking control of individual channels and and with more flexibility with the highlights and shadows as shown in the edited images, the raw file shows a lighter and more appealing foreground, ensuring the people are not lost in shadow but still gives there interesting reflection on the wet surface. With the more control over the individual colours I was able to produce a more vivid, interesting and truer image based on what was in front or me, the light on the buildings was more available to me in the raw format to show.
Original Raw Original Jpeg
When firstly looking at the original images of both formats there is very little to differentiate them by, the only real stand out difference is the slightly different coloured table, which in the raw image looks more whiter, like it was supposed to do. As is clear to see when we look at the edited images, the raw version is certainly far better than the edited jpeg, with the raw converter in Lightroom allowing me to make adjustments to the white balance, which as is plain to see in this example that was the largest problem, with the raw image now showing a very interesting, well lit scene, the lighting compliments the colours well and the lines of lights are an interesting element of the image that gives it depth. I made a small local adjustment on the edited images, notably taking out the white paper like shape in the bottom left of the image, I feel that the jpeg image has done a better job of this, however I think this is to do with the effectiveness of clone tool in Photoshop over its comparison in Lightroom.
Original Raw Original Jpeg
I think this is the best image for showing the overall effects that raw has over jpeg, when it comes to highlights and shadows in this high dynamic range image. In the highlighted area on the glass roof its clear in both original images that there is some far loss of detail, more so in the jpeg tho. In the edited version of the images, where I have reduced the highlights and slightly stepped up the shadows to add contrast on the areas and as visible in the edited raw version of the image the sky, although still lost in highlights is framed well by the roof where all the panels have been recovered to give a strong compositional element of the image compared to its jpeg counterpart. Although not as extreme as the highlight but the dark shadowed area on the shop fronts when looked at the original versions from this resolution look very similar. However with the added control of raw I was able to lighten that whole area to not only bring out a bit more detail but also with added contrast with the adjustment brush I was able to maintain a interesting tone that catches the eye.
With this image I aimed to use the adjustment brush to make a number of localised adjustments across the image, I aimed to do this ensuring I did the same to each image, so where I darkened I would do so on the other image, to give an even overall images to compare. When using the Lightroom I found the adjustment brush to have far more control over the pixels, with a more dynamic areas of the image, for example the highlight to the left and the dark shadow above it. I could darken the shadow more to create an interesting lighting situation which using the lights draws your eye down to the end. This coupled with the reflection on the ground which I could lighten better on the raw file, the jpeg would intuitively lighten it with the dodge tool or with adjustments with brightness.
Overall this was very interesting experiment and demonstration on the process of each file type, although in some respects there can be a very small difference in original images, the potential and control given with a raw image certainly sets it apart in my opinion, I think given the added file size it completely warrants its usage over jpeg files. I like to have the opportunity if needed to have opportunity to have a higher quality file which gives me the chance if I wish to edit it to its max. The raw file gives the photographer complete control over their image, whereas a processed jpeg takes some of the choices away and I feel it is important for a photographer to be able to control the whole image in its entirety, this enables them to get across what they saw initially.