Ground Zero with Raw Files, Why? Part 1


Shooting in the mid-morning cause it’s just when I was there.  It’s all overcast and not really a good shooting day.  But I shoot raw and that makes things appear that may not be there otherwise.  My raw file has more detail as we move to the highlight end of a grayscale.  The sky and cloud-cover are bright and coming from behind the blues club extraordinaire.   It’s a very rockin’ place on Friday and Saturday night but today it’s just me and a busload of seniors.  I did not think it would be much but I shot it anyway.  The underexposed raw files started to show the detail within 2 stops of the middle exposure.  When the raw files took a walk through Photomatix Pro (HDR processing) they turned into the drama a good blues shot would need.

Why Raw Files?  Here is one good reason:

Consider some choices you make in editing your images. On levels in PhotoShop, the sliders move from 0-255. Why? Because that is 8-bit technology. 8-bit equals 2 to the eighth power OR 256 variations. Yes, that’s how that number is calculated.  That is 0-255. So let’s carry that to 12-bit and learn that those 256 variations grow to 4096 variations. Or 2 to the 12th power = 4096. And at 14-bit it makes 16,384 variations.  That is an exponential increase is the steps in your grayscale and an increase in the detail you capture.

How does all this translate to our photography? On film and in 8-bit (Jpeg) photography there may be limits where very bright light would read a maximum and block up in the highlights. Ansel would’ve called this white with no detail. CMYK printer folks would remind us that in print this would be an area with no dots or no ink and that is not good. Picture that brightest part of a sunset where a portion may be open and not covered by cloud or in a commercial world in photographing a diamond, where the brightness of the facets cover a wide range of brightness. They block up and do not reproduce well. Now move to raw files. So instead of the limiting of 256 tones, we have as much as 16,384 tones with raw files. Now the tone of that brightness is not in the maxed-out brightness. It is bright but it still has detail because there is so much tonal value in the brightness before moving to “blown out bright white”. Keep up with this series and see additional info on shooting raw. It’s technical but convincing. If it’s clear to you, make a comment. If it’s not clear, please ask a question.

To see more info on Ground Zero Blues Club #110b

Nikon D200 at f8 HDR.  Nikon 12-24mm f4 Lens  ISO 200.

PhotoShop, Lightroom and PhotoMatix Pro


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©Gary Culley, 2014