JPG vs RAW by Jamie Bright

When you get a camera you may be faced with the choice of what file type to shoot in.
In fact, you’re going to get multiple choices – and you should understand them all.

RAW

Compressed or Uncompressed.
Compressed is USUASLLY lossless and SHOULD contain the same amount of detail as the uncompressed alternative. I am sure there are scientific field tests, but where you can, use compressed RAW files – they’re smaller.
Reasons for NOT choosing compressed include the editing software you may use for post processing, or if you don’t mind waiting for files to transfer and convert.

JPEG

Large, Medium, Small – what size JPEG file do you desire?
Aspect ratio – 3:2, 1:1, 16:9
Normal, Fine – level of compression in the final JPEG image

Now, if you are confident you get your images right in camera all the time, by all means use JPEG – it allows you to shoot faster, transfer files quicker and share them easier direct from camera to smart devices. Plus you can fit more of these images onto your SD card – especially when using small size JPEG and compression (small, normal)

However if, like me, you enjoy the process of editing your images, go for RAW files. These by default are flat, and do NOT include all of your further in-camera settings (grain, highlights, shadows, sharpness, dynamic range etc) – and you will have to bring all of these details out in post processing. Great fun.

For reference, on my Fuji X100F, here is what equates to what in terms of print size. These numbers change depending on the camera you are using!
All RAW files can print 6000 x 4000 (remember, talking about a Fuji X100F here)

Image sizes

JPEG
L (3:2) – 6000 X 4000
M (3:2) – 4240 X 2832
S (3:2) – 3008 X 2000

L (16:9) – 6000 X 3376
M (16:9) – 4240 X 2384
S (16:9) – 3008 X 1688

L (1:1) – 4000 X 4000
M (1:1) – 2832 X 2832
S (1:1) – 2000 X 2000

For me, I try as much as possible to set all my settings in camera and end up with a great looking JPEG for quick sharing. However, I also shoot RAW so I can edit them to my liking.

So, I shoot JPEG Large, Fine + RAW in 3:2 aspect ratio. It means I can quickly look at my shots on my smart device to see where I need corrections, and then use the RAW files to edit from scratch, cropping and resizing at my will.

Anyhow, that’s a quick summary of JPEG vs RAW, and how I use them both to enhance my photographic experience.

White Balance by Jamie Bright

When is white not white? When you photograph it under certain lights! Hey, that rhymed!

Humans have brains which interpret colors in different ways, and the sensors in your camera are no different. If you were to take a sheet of white paper and take a photo of it in an office environment, in the middle of a field, or under flash lighting, it’s likely going to look a different shade of white in each image. This is where you either have to select the right white balance setting on your camera (or just adjust it in post processing).

Note, I just shoot with auto white balance and adjust in Lightroom later on.

This is going to be a very a short post on the temperature of lighting with an example. Seeing as this is something so easy to resolve, but may clear up a question you had as to “why does this look so horrible?!” when you take an image.

Let’s begin…

There are a few varying situations where your camera will see “white” in different ways.

  • Fluorescent lighting – such as in offices

  • Tungsten lighting – such as indoor lights

  • In cloudy weather – overcast or kinda rainy conditions

  • In normal weather

  • On a super nice sunny day – summer, or snowy environment or even higher elevations

Here’s an image taken of a bedroom with 3 different white balance settings. Goes to show how it can effect your final image!

whitebalance.jpg

Most cameras have a setting where you can shoot at a white or neutral colored object and get the white balance setting based upon that. This is the best way to get the perfect technically correct image. Or like I said, you can adjust the white balance (or temperature and tint) in post processing.

Anyway, that’s my brief overview of white balance.

Of course, photography is purely subjective to what the photographer wants to show the viewer. The only technical aspects are just choices. No right or wrong. It’s all artistic!

Shutter Speed by Jamie Bright

A noun as defined in the dictionary as being the time for which the shutter is open at a given setting.

Shutter speed is one of the three main elements of photography. The other 2 being aperture and ISO.

Quickly put, shutter speed is what you use to determine the sharpness of your image relative to the subject.
This is achieved by setting your shutter speed via the dials on the top of your camera, or via the shutter dial on most DSLRs.

For example, you may want to capture a fast moving object like a ball flying through the air. If you use a shutter speed that is slow, that ball will be blurry, but show movement. But if you use a fast shutter speed, the ball will look like it’s been frozen in time.

Of course, artistically, it’s up to you how you want to shoot the ball – I am just providing an example.

Movement in your scene is what shutter speed is all about. That’s how I look at it, anyway.

There’s a lot of technicalities that go into shutter speed – for example, not using a shutter speed which is shorter than the focal length of your lens – but that’s for another post.

You can set your camera to Shutter Priority mode, meaning you choose the shutter speed you want and the camera will determine the rest. Great for if you just really want to nail the freezing of the subject and don’t worry much about the surroundings.

Shutter speeds on many cameras can range from 1/8000th of a second (dang that’s quick!) down to 1 or 2 seconds, or even longer – typically up to 30 seconds. There’s another option usually called Bulb (or B) which means you determine how long the shutter is open for – usually controlled by a remote, or just keeping your finger pressed on the release button. Remember – shaky hands can cause shaky pictures.

In the below example, a fast shutter speed captured the spinny thing in sharp detail. As the shutter speed was elongated, the blur started to kick in.

shutterspeed.jpg

For night photography, you may want to have a longer shutter speed to capture star trails, or to allow more light to come into your camera to light up the scene. On lakes, rivers, or the ocean, using a longer shutter speed will smooth out the water as it runs by.

In a crowded area, a 1 second shutter speed may show blurry people but keep buildings and other static objects sharp.

Of course, photography is purely subjective to what the photographer wants to show the viewer. The only technical aspects are just choices. No right or wrong.

Aperture by Jamie Bright

A technical noun as defined in the dictionary as being an opening, gap, or hole.

Aperture is one of the three main elements of photography. The other 2 being shutter speed and ISO.

Quickly put, aperture is amount of space you are providing to your camera to let light in.
This is achieved by opening the aperture blades within the lens. You do this by changing the f-stop on your lens – either via turning the aperture ring on the lens, or by using the aperture dial on your camera.

For example, a lens may range from f0.95 to f45 with many other stops in between – with (in the below pictured example) f1.8 being the largest in terms of openings – meaning more light will shine through into the camera, and f11 being the smallest, meaning less light, but more in focus on a technically correct exposure.

aperture.jpg

Why would you want to choose how much light comes in? Well, in darker scenes, you may want to be able to let more light in to get a faster shutter speed, which can eliminate blur. You may want to create beautiful bokeh in the photograph, meaning the background is nicely blurred out with your subject the main focal point.
Depth of field is something to think about too. What do you want in focus and what do you want out of focus?

You can set your camera to Aperture Priority mode, meaning you choose the aperture you want and the camera will determine the rest.

I would say that street photography is mostly shot at f5.6 or f8 – This is due to the photographer wanting not only the subject in focus, but some of the surroundings too, so you can see what is causing the subject to be the main focal point.

Landscape photographers may swear by f11, f16, f22 etc because they want to expand the depth of field beyond what’s near to them, and maintain tack sharpness throughout the image.

Portraits may be taken at f1.4 or f1.8 so as to provide a blurred background from the subject.

Of course, photography is purely subjective to what the photographer wants to show the viewer. The only technical aspects are just choices. No right or wrong.