Tuesday’s Tip #13:
A little late, but it is still Tuesday! Since these tips are intended for beginning DSLR users (D stands for digital, FYI), you will eventually need to know how to edit your photos later. While I’m not going to get into every single possible way you can edit your photos, I can definitely give you a few tips.
A much debated topic amongst photographers is to shoot in Jpeg or Camera RAW. The option will be somewhere in your camera’s menu. Granted only a handful of great photographers will suggest shooting in Jpeg. One big reason you can choose to shoot in Jpeg is that the files take up less space on your memory card and on your computer. It also takes less time to “write” the file information on the card, so you can potentially shoot faster. Maybe those reasons work for you, but for me they don’t matter and the difference in speed is undetectable. I use RAW, because jpeg doesn’t record as much information, plain and simple. While you should always try to get your exposures right in camera, with RAW there is a lot more flexibility with any fixes you might need to make in post-processing.
Now, if you do choose to shoot in RAW, you need to know that not all editing programs will be able to open and make adjustments to these types of files. The latest versions of Photoshop do. A lot of people starting out use Photoshop Elements because it’s more affordable, and I believe that some versions will let you use RAW. One program that I can’t live without is Adobe Lightroom. Not only can it work with RAW files, but if you shoot a ton of images, this program will help you edit and manage all of them easily. Aperture is another program that does this, but it’s only for Mac users.
No matter what you choose to shoot in, if you have a final destination for photos, you should know how to process and save them appropriately. A basic rule of thumb is this: always keep the original, and save every other version of it with a different name. For example, if I take a picture of my dog, it will stay as is on my hard drive. I will then open it, edit and size it, and then “save as” something different. If I intend to print it, I may title it dog-4x6print. If I intend to post it online, I will size it differently (72ppi if you know how to adjust the resolution) and then”save for web”(in Photoshop) or export (in Lightroom) as a jpeg, and then name it dog-forFB.jpg (Facebook).
One very important reason to do this is to avoid degrading the quality of your image. If I took that image I re-sized for Facebook and tried to print it, it would not look good at all! It would be very pixelated, because I had reduced the resolution from 300 to 72! Images at 72ppi should not be printed. Also, beware of editing, saving, and reopening jpegs too much, because each time a jpeg is changed and saved, the quality is degraded. That’s another reason to work in RAW, but also another reason to “save as” a different name. One huge advantage to Lightroom, is that you can do as many edits as you like without actually changing the original file or worrying about saving anything. It’s kind of hard to explain if you haven’t tried it, but it is very cool.
So, if you do want to try it, you probably can. Most programs these days have free trials, so go find a good one to try out! 🙂
Have any questions? Leave them in the comments below. Maybe I can answer your question in next week’s post. 🙂