Do the RAW bits matter?

Result from original RAW image for "RAW BIT EXPERIMENT" Camera: 60D, Lens: 17 - 85, ISO 100, EV: -0.7, f 5.6, Shutter Speed: 1/100 © All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Result from original RAW image for “RAW BIT EXPERIMENT”
Camera: 60D, Lens: 17 – 85, ISO 100, EV: -0.7, f 5.6, Shutter Speed: 1/100
© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Original JPEG image for "RAW BIT EXPERIMENT" Camera: 60D, Lens: 17 - 85, ISO 100, EV: -0.7, f 5.6, Shutter Speed: 1/100 © All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Original JPEG image for “RAW BIT EXPERIMENT”
Camera: 60D, Lens: 17 – 85, ISO 100, EV: -0.7, f 5.6, Shutter Speed: 1/100
© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

If  you read photography forums and blogs, there is a lot of information and debate out there about what is the best format to shoot your pictures and the best way to process them.  It can become quite confusing for the hobbyist or serious amateur.  So rather than add to the already large volume of technical work on the subject, I thought I would run a little experiment today to break down whether the “RAW bits” matter.  Most of us are aware that RAW files are notoriously large but retain a lot more information about what is picked up by the camera sensors.  On the other hand, JPEG files are far more manageable in terms of size and running our computer systems, but this file is a compression of the available information about the picture. As a result there is already some degradation and loss of detail even when viewing the image straight out of camera (SOOC).

For this mini experiment, the starting point was to shoot a common subject in both RAW format and in large JPEG format to see the impact that this had on the image SOOC and after some seriously extreme processing though Adobe Photoshop.  Both original images were loaded into Photoshop via the Camera Raw functionality and saved as TIFF files to avoid any further degradation of the file from constant saving and re-opening.

Through the camera raw functionality of Photoshop, two versions of each of the files were saved. One as 16 bit and the other as 8 BIT colour. Again there is much debate about 16 and 8 BIT processing. 8 BIT RGB colour represents over 16 million distinct colours where 16 BIT RGB colour represents over 281 trillion colours (far more than what can be distinguished by the human eye).  If so many colours are available in 16 BIT RGB that cannot even be “seen” by the human eye – then why bother?

Two extreme processes were applied within the main area of Photoshop on the four files. The saturation was increased to +100 for the red colours, and desaturated to -100 for all the other colours of yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta. The contrast level was also pushed to the extreme level. These levels are not what you would do in post processing but this was an experiment!

Result of original RAW File after extreme processing (16 BIT) © All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Result of original RAW File after extreme processing (16 BIT)
© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Result of original RAW File after extreme processing (8 BIT)© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Result of original RAW File after extreme processing (8 BIT)
© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Result of original JPEG File after extreme processing (16 BIT)© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Result of original JPEG File after extreme processing (16 BIT)
© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Result of original JPEG File after extreme processing (8 BIT)© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Result of original JPEG File after extreme processing (8 BIT)
© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

On the surface there does not seem to be very much difference between the two RAW files or between the two JPEG files – although there is a noticeable difference between the RAW and JPEG versions, overall.

It is when we look at the pixel level that the difference become more obvious – particularly for the original RAW image.  The differences in the JPEG file are negligible for two reasons.  Firstly, original JPEG files are 8 bit RGB colour files to start with.  Therefore processing as a 16 BIT colour file will not re-create something that does not exist in the file in the first place.  Secondly the post processing applied in this experiment did not include gradient or texture adjustment layers which would have an impact.  Another experiment for another day, perhaps?

Extremely Clean and crisp distinguishable colours.  Resulting in a crisper and cleaner image with amazing detail. © All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Extremely Clean and crisp distinguishable colours. Resulting in a crisper and cleaner image with amazing detail.
© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Very clean and crisp distinguishable colours.  Will result in a crisp and clean image with amazing detail. Some degradation of colour when compared to 16 BIT processed image. © All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Very clean and crisp distinguishable colours. Will result in a crisp and clean image with amazing detail. Some degradation of colour when compared to 16 BIT processed image.
© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Compared to the RAW examples, the colours are "smudged" resulting in "bands of colour" rather than "detail of colour".  For most situations and printing sizes, the results would be quite suitable.  The degradation of detail however is quite marked though compared to RAW files. © All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Compared to the RAW examples, the colours are “smudged” resulting in “bands of colour” rather than “detail of colour”. For most situations and printing sizes, the results would be quite suitable. The degradation of detail however is quite marked though compared to RAW files.
© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Compared to the RAW examples, the colours are "smudged" resulting in "bands of colour" rather than "detail of colour".  For most situations and printing sizes, the results would be quite suitable.  The degradation of detail however is quite marked though compared to RAW files.  No discernible difference with 16 BIT processing, therefore no advantage based on the processing undertaken at this time. © All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013. © All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

Compared to the RAW examples, the colours are “smudged” resulting in “bands of colour” rather than “detail of colour”. For most situations and printing sizes, the results would be quite suitable. The degradation of detail however is quite marked though compared to RAW files. No discernible difference with 16 BIT processing, therefore no advantage based on the processing undertaken at this time.© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013.

There is a definite advantage to shooting RAW and processing with 16 BIT RGB colour processing if you want high control over the finer elements of the image without degradation from post processing. The disadvantage is file size and impact that this has on your computer processing capabilities. For most situations and cases, LARGE JPEG files at 8 BIT RGB processing will still produce great results.

Now for some numbers:

SOOC RAW File: 20.5 MG compared to JPEG SOOC of 4.8 MG

16 BIT TIFF File : 102.5 Million pixels compared to 8BIT Tiff File : 51.3 Million

Final JPEG Sizes : RAW 16 BIT (13 MG), RAW 8 BIT (11.2 MG), JPEG 16 BIT (10 MG), JPEG 8 BIT (9.6 MG).

So do the RAW BITS matter to you?

 

Sharing the love – marketing small photography business

© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013

© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2013

Over the past several months, we have laying down the foundations for our photography business.

It is quite a leap to consciously set up and start running a small business – suddenly all the legal and financial considerations start to matter.  Once they are all in place, building your profile and getting your name out there becomes a priority.  The time behind the lens may actually have to take a back set for a while.

The world of small business has changed considerably over the past decade.  Social media now plays such a major role in our professional and personal lives … in some ways this is ideal for professional photographers.  Many of the social media site rely on visual communication and photographers are most interested in the visual.  On the other hand, the social love affair with smart phones means that as photographers our images are now competing with millions of images generated by people who would not even regard themselves as photographers.  However, we firmly believe that there still is a place for high resolution, quality and professional images.

Sometimes it seems that the world has gone mad for visual communication.  Research strongly suggests that visual communication is more powerful than verbal … that we are more likely to remember what we see and do … up to 80%. That is powerful stuff.

What does all this mean to a small photography business that is starting out?

  • One that there is stiff competition – not just from fellow photographers in business but also the rest of the world.
  • That spreading the word is becoming more reliant on social media networks and running campaigns and using resources such as facebook is almost a necessity rather than a “nice to do”.
  • Powerful visual messages continue to be compelling.

This month, we started our “share the love” campaign.  Setting up the first advertisement was a daunting experience but also exciting.  We are eagerly tracking the results and happy to learn as we go along. The social media networks can be fickle beasts! We know that this will be a long term investment and to expect overnight results would be crazy.

It is while since we blogged but want to also take this opportunity to thank all those people that have come on board and shown their support these past months.

400mm Magic

Hello people …

Okay so here is something for those who have and love to use long lens’s …. My favorite is the Canon 100-400mm EF . At first I only used it mostly for taking street candid shots, until one day when I saw a butterfly at a distance and thought to myself ” no way will I ever be able to get it ” and well…. I didn’t , not in focus anyway … but it sure got me to thinking of how I could manage to shoot small subjects in motion .

Here’s what I’ve been doing, with some fairly good success if I may say so …

1- iso should be at 100 … keeps much of the noise down.

2- spot metering … you want to be targeting the insect and nothing else … the rest should just be background or bokeh .

3- Try to get to see a pattern in the flight …or it’s landing times ( I will take a few minutes to study that and have found it helpful) … AT TIMES ….

4- Manual focus … very frustrating at 1st …. but much worth it in the long run

5- Start shooting… Good luck and have fun

It won’t be easy at first you may get 1 shot out of 25 attempts …. who cares …. but it does get easier with practice
And of course if anybody out there who is reading this and would like to add some hints and feedback, please feel free to do so

Thank you … and click on people

Marty

Hover fly in flight

Black on Black Photography

Images of black objects against a black background can be stunning and very artistic – especially when the black is rich and glossy and the light is minimal.   Subtle changes in your camera’s manual settings can have a huge impact on the end result.  Experimentation with your light sources, ISO and shutter speed as well as a good dose of patience is required in order to get the desired result.  Although adjustments can be made in post processing, the satisfaction comes from achieving a good result with the original image to begin with.

black marker on black background 1/20th second

black marker on black background 1/30th second

An example of the effect of shutter speed in black on black photography is shown above.  The subject was the felt tips of a black marker against a black background.  Both images were shot as hand held macros, ISO 320 which is higher than we would normally shoot at but the light conditions were low to reduce the light reflections on the glossy black of the marker pen.  In the first example, the shutter speed was 1/20th of a second and in the second, the shutter speed was 1/30th of a second.  The slower shutter speed resulting in more details in the photo but an overall bluish tone.   The first image is great … if we had wanted a blue image.  The slight adjustment to shutter speed provided the desired result, with sufficient details to define tip of the felt pen and to keep the blacks rich, deep and glossy.  With a shutter speed slightly higher than 1/30th of a second, the object became lost in the black background.  The best shutter speed for each black on black shoot will depend on the ambient light sources, ISO settings and other factors.

mysterious camera trauma

We know that no one will believe us when we say we have no idea how “the star of our canon family” suffered such trauma.  The nature and extent of damage to the 5D’s body would suggest that the poor thing had been dropped onto concrete from a high height or had been thrown out of a speeding car.  Neither had occurred.  Whatever caused the damage resulted in an expensive repair with most of the external body and some of the internal parts replaced.   It is a complete mystery.

The camera had only been used in a few studio shoots the past couple of months.  During those shoots there had been no indication of camera malfunction or loss of image quality.   During our last shoot, we discovered the crack from the front of the camera just above the lens mount, across the top and along the back.  There were no scratches, dints or other signs of impact.  We know that the camera had not been dropped or mishandled.  Other members of our canon family have survived more difficult circumstances – extreme temperature conditions (up to minus 40 degree Celcius), the occasional bumps, minor mishaps and scratches without damage, so this kind of damage was surprising, baffling and traumatic.

A visit to the original store of purchase brought no relief, and neither did the visit to the Canon Emergency Room.  The injuries were classified as impact damage, and therefore not covered by warranty.  We understand that shops and repair centres have heard it all before with stories of “no fault” claims, but it is frustrating that genuine cases are readily dismissed and the assumption is that you have abused the camera in some way.   Unfortunately, we have no explanation at all.

The only good news to come out of this story is that our star was repaired and returned to us much quicker than the Canon Service Centre had suggested and with a new face and body she is ready for action.

Studio Facelift

collaboration at heart

In the last couple of months the steps to set up our new business, at times, has been a daunting experience, from all the paperwork needed for business registration, to new bank accounts, to creating an online presence through our website, this blog and facebook presence. Thankfully they are coming together, slowly but surely. There is still lots to do but the basic foundations are now in place. One of the real delights amongst this endless stream of paperwork and online development has been giving our studio a facelift … and we are not talking about post processing images in photoshop but actually upgrading some of the equipment for our home-based studio.

Like most photographers the dream of turning professional started out with small baby steps. The passion for taking photographs took on a new meaning as we both added to our kits with different lenses and cameras. For some time we were content with our “makeshift studio” – it was a great place to experiment although sometimes the set up time was longer than the actual shoot. The time had finally arrived for us to invest in some studio equipment that would make it more versatile, durable and workable.

With wonderful customer service from Dragon Image Australia we gave the home studio an overhaul. After an informative discussion about options and a day or so of reconfiguring the studio space, we invested in some new studio lights, soft boxes and a backdrop arrangement that lets us work out of our home studio with greater ease but also provides the option to take our equipment offsite as and when required. Our studio space is small and intimate but works well for the type of portrait, macro and product photography that we are keen to do.

We are no saints …

© All rights reserved. Dragon Papillon Photography. 2012

We are no saints … but we are canonised.  If both us were not avid canon fans then our relationship may not have gotten off the ground, let alone the idea of starting a photography business together. It also makes sharing of equipment and learning from each other a lot easier.

Thankfully, our photographic styles are quite different, so there are few arguments over who gets to mount which lens on their camera for a shoot. Just as we came from different ends of the planet, our lens choices are at the opposite extremes of the lens spectrum.

When out and about, Marty likes to strap on his 400mm zoom lens to get close to the action, while keeping a respectable distance from his subjects. Palo, on the other hand, will get into weird positions (dubbed the palo pose) for that up close and personal touch using her 60mm macro lens.

It is those different choices that lets us build a diverse portfolio of images even though we may be shooting at the same location. It also keeps the arguments down to a minimum!!!  But it does beg the question … does size matter? The simple answer is that Marty does tend to get more comments about his camera with the 400 than palo does with the macro … you can be the judge🙂

Welcome to Dragon Papillon Photography … a dream takes flight

Marty and Palo welcome you to our blog – Dragon Papillon Photography – where we will share our world with you through our camera lenses.

We are two freelance photographers based in Sydney, Australia.  Several years ago we met each other through a mutual passion for photography and respect for each other’s creativity.  As life would have it and although we used to live on different sides of the planet, that connection led to friendship and eventually to marriage.  As our relationship evolved, so did the way in which we approached photography.  We discovered that collaborating on photographic assignments to be even more rewarding than the days we were alone behind the lens.   We would find ourselves often discussing how to take our photography to another level and dared to dream about running a home-based studio.

Well the days for wishful thinking are behind us as we launch our business – Dragon Papillon Photography and begin to share that next chapter of our live through our blog and website.

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