Build complex toys and simple tools
by Tony Karp
Andy has lots of interesting discussions with his raw-shooting buddies, sharing tips and tricks, workflows and workarounds, and their innermost raw processing secrets and settings.Ann is too busy taking pictures.
So let's skip all the technical nonsense.Shooting raw won't make your pictures better. It might make them a little bit sharper, with perhaps a little more highlight or shadow detail.But it won't make your pictures better.What it will do is add a series of unnecessary distractions in getting to where you want to be as a photographer. Instead of looking at one of your pictures and thinking about things like cropping and retouching, you'll be wondering if there is yet another thing you could do to make the picture just a little bit sharper, or bring out just a little more shadow detail. Or how many different programs it'll take to get you to where the JPEG photographer already is. (It gets worse from here, so I'll spare you the details.)Nobody ever looked at one of my pictures and marveled at how sharp it was or at the incredible shadow detail.Think about Ann and Andy.
** Some NotesThe whole raw vs JPEG thing takes on an almost religious fervor, fueled by incorrect and meaningless information. It's based on the theory that you can make a better filet mignon if you start with hamburger and that anyone, working with the simplest of tools, can do a better processing job than the guys who designed the lens, the sensor, and the camera.As an online raw vs JPEG debate drags on, several things happen. The JPEG photographers walk away because they already have what they need. The raw photographers hang around for thousands of messages because they don't know what they need. What started as a debate ends up as a never-ending discussion of raw processing tools and techniques.But wait, there's more. Modern digital cameras have all sorts of interesting things built into them, like HDR, monochrome, and creative picture effects. You won't have access to these features if you shoot raw.More bad news. Most consumer digital cameras no longer shoot real, uncompressed raw. High-megapixel sensors create huge raw files, so camera makers now use lossy compression to keep raw files to a reasonable size. Since they no longer fit the definition of raw, I suggest they be called "rare" files -- raw files that have been cooked a little. *** And now, the Philosophy SectionInstead of learning how to fix badly exposed pictures, why not spend the same amount of effort learning to get the right exposure when you shoot the picture? In the long run, this will have a far bigger payoff.Try to spend less time fixing your mistakes and more time learning from them. If your photography has a "workflow," this may not be a good sign. Creativity can't be mapped into a series of steps.Real photographers are like real fisherman. They know that some days you come back empty handed, some days you'll catch some that you have to throw back and, every once in a while, there'll be the one that got away. If a raw shooter went fishing and a fish escaped the hook, they would jump in and swim after it.Never mistake a geek for a guru. A geek will show you all sorts of ways to fix a problem. A guru will show you how to avoid the problem in the first place. And now a quote:
"When photography gets so technical as to intimidate people, the element of simple enjoyment is bound to suffer."+ Ol' Hunter, on his worst acid trip, could never have envisioned a RAW vs JPEG debate.
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