Nikon D5300, Rokinon 16mm f/2, FotoPro C5C Tripod, Sigma EX Circular Polarizer
1/10 sec. @ f/9 & ISO 100, SOOC image, Vivid Picture Control, +3 contrast & saturation
(Click HERE to view a larger version!)
In today’s episode of our Weekly Edit series, we’re going to pursue a topic that has been very close to my heart for many years – the pursuit of creative vision, and the idea that our cameras are a lot more powerful at rendering beautiful colors “right out of the box” than we think.
From portraits and weddings, to wildlife and landscapes, one thing I frequently encounter when chatting with photographers is how their RAW images look so beautiful on the back of their camera, and yet flat and dull on their computers. Why does this happen? Because our cameras are processing our images much more so than, for example, Adobe Lightroom does by default.
This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, shooting RAW enables a photographer to harness incredible control over their final images. A RAW image offers much more dynamic range, (highlight and shadow detail) and of course full white balance control, among other things. On the other hand, sometimes this feels like driving a Formula 1 race car on a daily work commute. If my RAW images look great on the back of my camera, why bother spending hours to re-process them all in a third-party program? This is why I sometimes find myself “proofing” my RAW images using Nikon View NX 2, a program that allows me to browse, sort, and export / share my RAW images as if they were in-camera JPGs.
After struggling with these dilemas of tonal control and perfection over the years, I’ve slowly begun to develop my current workflow that involves not just a RAW capture, but also the reference point of a JPG, in-camera rendering of my creative vision.
Watch The Video
The Original Images
SOOC (straight-out-of-camera) image from Nikon View NX 2, with zero Lightroom / Photoshop. (Basically, as if I had shot JPG)
Adobe Lightroom‘s rendition of the NEF image, with Adobe’s standard defaults.
SLR Lounge Lightroom 5 Preset: BASE – VIVID / Light Crush – Color
Same Image, With Adobe’s Profile Changed from “Adobe Standard” to “Camera Vivid”
The Final Images
Final image, with adjustments to HSL, (orange) basic tones, and vibrance / saturation. (dialed to zero) Click HERE to view a larger version!
At the end of the day, I find myself continually impressed by our camera’s capabilities when rendering beautiful colors in-camera. This definitely causes me to lament over the drawbacks of shooting in JPG, versus the incredible advantages of shooting in RAW.
With a little finesse though, and a good understanding of what your original creative vision was, you can still achieve “perfect” tones and colors with your images. I do believe that without having the in-camera JPG as a reference point, I might have never known what I was missing in the subtleties of color and tone.
So if you’ve never given it a second thought, (and even if you’re a die-hard RAW shooter) you might want to consider adapting or adjusting your workflow to include the reference point of your in-camera colors. This type of workflow might not be reasonable for a high-volume photographer who needs to batch-process thousands of images per week, however for any sort of fine-art landscape or similar type of photographer, it is in my opinion a valuable possibility!
Take care, and happy clicking,
Learn HDR Photography
For more HDR education, be sure to check out HDR Tutorial by SLR Lounge. This comprehensive “gold standard” guide will give you a mastery of HDR photography, from the scene considerations to the actual shooting to the post production. Click here for more info.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Lightroom 5 is, in our opinion, by far the most powerful workflow tool for any photographer especially wedding and portrait photographers who need to achieve perfect color correction at a rapid-fire pace. Become a Lightroom Master using our complete Lightroom Workshop Collection for Lightroom 5! This DVD workshop includes extensive tutorials for everything from organization & workflow to image processing and our awesome preset system.
The SLR Lounge Preset System
The SLR Lounge Preset System is designed to enable Lightroom users to achieve virtually any look and effect in 3-5 clicks. Including basic color correction, vintage fades, black & white effects, tilt-shift effects, faux HDR, retouching, detail enhancing, and so much more, the sky is the limit with what has been dubbed the most powerful and intuitive preset system available! Click the link above to learn more/purchase. The SLR Lounge Preset System is now available for both Lightroom 5, Lightroom 4, and Adobe Camera Raw. (Bridge CS6 and CC only, click for more info.)