Shooting in Raw + JPEG Mode: Why Most of Us Shouldn’t, And How to Set Lightroom Preferences If You Do

More and more photographers are aware these days that raw files provide higher quality information and more flexibility in processing than JPEGs do. For those of you convinced to shoot raw files, your camera most likely gives you a choice to save just a raw file, or to save both a raw file and a JPEG of each photo you capture.   Frankly, I hope to convince most of you who capture raw + JPEG to stop doing it and capture just a raw file. However, for those who choose to capture both, I will explain the file management options available to you. My Experience Shooting Raw + JPEG When I first started shooting in raw, I chose raw + JPEG [...more]

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Jpeg Compression and the Lightroom Jpeg Quality Setting

Anytime you create a jpeg using Lightroom’s Export dialog (or any other method), the file is compressed — information is thrown away in order to make the file smaller. How much is determined by the Quality setting or, in Lightroom 3 or later, if you choose instead, the Limit File Size setting. The big benefit of jpeg files is that they are relatively small.  The jpeg save algorithm is complicated, but it basically evaluates each pixel in your image, looking at pixels surrounding it to see if they are “close enough” in color and tone. If they are “close enough”, then they are changed to be  the same. This way the file doesn’t need to store as many pieces of [...more]

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The Easy Way to Expose to the Right in Digital Photography

You may have read my two posts about  the value of exposing to the right in digital photography (also known as ETTR), What Lurks in the Shadows: The Case of the Black Cat and The Perfect Exposure, Or, When Things Don’t Look So Good.   In the second one, I show you an example of where I nail my exposure — the photograph  is exposed as brightly as possible without blowing out any significant highlights (any highlights at all, in this case): (For an explanation on how to read the histogram, see the first post.) I often get the follow-up question from readers, “How do you expose it so perfectly, other than by bracketing and trial and error?” It’s actually quite easy, once you [...more]

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What Lurks in the Shadows: The Case of the Black Cat, or Why You Should Expose to the Right

I wrote this post in early 2009, so I am sure that many of my readers haven’t seen it.  I decided to repost it because it is an important concept for digital photographers to understand. As you may have heard, with digital, unlike film, your goal should be to expose your image as brightly as possible, without blowing out important highlights.  In other words, your histogram should be as far to the right as possible without going over the edge.  This method is now called ETTR — Expose To The Right. What is the histogram?  It is a graph of the tones in your images, from pure black (blocked up, no detail) at the left edge, to pure white (blown [...more]

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The Perfect Exposure, or When Good Things Don’t Look So Good, or Why You Should Expose to the Right

I wrote about the importance of exposing as brightly as possible, short of blowing out important highlights in my post “What Lurks in the Shadows: The Case of the Black Cat“.    I encourage you to read it if you haven’t. I thought I would show you an example of a perfect exposure that in fact looks terrible in-camera. Here is a photograph I took on the Oregon Coast: And here is the histogram:

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