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Processing RAW

Posted: Sun May 11, 2014 9:14 am
by legostudios34
I finally got a DSLR and I am looking for tips on processing the RAW (.nef) files. Here is my first attempt and I'll upload the .nef also if anyone wants to see the original file. Constructive criticism is welcome.

Weather sucks around here.

Re: Processing RAW

Posted: Sun May 11, 2014 10:29 am
by bdconrail29
First off, good for you!! Now you can take advantage of everything the sensor captured.

I'm not familiar with Nikon RAW files, as I only shoot Canon and I use Lightroom 50% of the time and Camera RAW/Photoshop the other 50%. So, I don't know which program you're using either.

Typically though, it's not difficult. I'll just share my basic workflow, and others will have other workflows of course.

I first make sure that my exposure is the way I want it. There's no right or wrong here, as all metering is relative and subjective. I then add some clarity and adjust my contrast curve to MEDIUM. It's usually good enough but if I want additional contrast, I can just use the slider. On Full Frame, I usually don't have to apply any noise reduction until about ISO 2000 so I don't usually worry too much. NR will decrease resolution at the same time (it averages pixels). Don't use it if I you don't need to but you can apply anywhere up to about a setting of 40 before you notice any real loss in resolution.

You can explore to your heart's content with color saturation, hues, tones, etc. You can also play with lifting and lowering highlights and shadows. You can also change white balance without changing the file at all. Sometimes skin tones are rendered inaccurately and that also comes from which processing profile chosen as well as white balance. Sometimes some colors are rendered oversaturated. The nice thing about this is that all of that can be adjusted in RAW with a slider and it doesn't even change your original file.

If your photo is cropped the way you want it, then I sharpen last. Don't oversharpen.

My other suggestion is play around with your camera as well and learn photography the best you can. The more you know about photography the more powerful a RAW file can be. There's also nothing wrong with shooting in RAW and learning from your mistakes by paying attention to the adjustments made. Learn the different metering modes of your camera and learn to expose for the part of the photo that you want to expose correctly.

Re: Processing RAW

Posted: Mon May 12, 2014 4:02 pm
by jkh2cpu
It would be helpful to know your operating system.

I'd like to see the *.nef file just for fun. I run linux, so that means ufraw -> gimp. For gimp, I'm using 2.9.1 which is compiled from source code. When released, it will be gimp-2.10.x, and it will feature 16 bit processing, which is what you want for RAW files.

One of the advantages of RAW images is that editing is done in your computer rather than in your camera. That jpeg that you can pull from the camera started as a RAW image in the camera, and was processed on the fly into a jpeg. Further editing of the jpeg from the camera will introduce more jpeg artifacts. These problems are avoided by using the RAW image that your DSLR camera gives you.


Re: Processing RAW

Posted: Mon May 12, 2014 6:54 pm
by bdconrail29
All RAW engines can process in 16-bit.

Re: Processing RAW

Posted: Mon May 12, 2014 7:10 pm
by jkh2cpu
You are right: raw editors process in 16 bits. You'd want them to since they're processing 12 to 14 bit images... And from there, you go to an 8 bit editor for heavy duty editing, save for something like I'm using. Actually, I'm editing in 32 bit float with gimp-2.9.1: that's the internal structure of the program, as is ufraw.

Ever fiddle with luminance-hdr? That's a real kick.