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What is RAW and how does it help my images?

When taking a photo, we can process that image in a couple different wants. We can take the JPG image Straight out of Camera (SooC) or have the camera process the image in RAW sensor data. If we program the camera to use JPG, we are commanding it to take the sensor data and build an image and then compress it using JPG standards. If we program the camera to take the photo in RAW, we are commanding it to only record the raw sensor data in the file.

The number one advantage is having access to the uncompressed data from the sensor. The camera has not made a decision on the color or compressed the image in any way. It creates a large file that is not a photo and needs a converter to read the data and create an image. This RAW data enables to manipulate the image and colors in any way we see fit. The converter or image processor (in our case Adobe Lightroom CC 2019) compiles this sensor data and makes a very subdued image on screen. The colors are roughly what it is believed it captured, but has very little saturation or vibrancy. You can see on the image below where the before image on the left looks overexposed and flat color. The image on the right is the final processed image.

In this image, you can see the very flat image before and the vibrant and sharp image on the right. We were able to adjust each color and it gets changed down to the pixel level. This allows us to change brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks, etc. on a more granular level to make the best photo possible.

The only disadvantage is that it creates a very large file that needs to be store and open. A typical RAW file is above 32 MB, where a typical JPG file is less than 10 MB. On a side note, we store every image locally on a backup system and on our cloud backup service.

The main advantage of JPG is the small file size. If you are new to photography, JPG is likely where you would start. It gives you a usable image straight from the camera. The camera does most of the work and uses its internal technology to decide what the image should look like. If you are storing hundreds of thousands or millions of images, storage space becomes an issue. (We currently store hundreds of thousands of both RAW and JPG images.)

The disadvantages are greater in JPG than in RAW. Because it is using JPG compression standards, the image is not as granular. Instead of color data per pixel, the compression technology groups colors and then specifies the location in the image. If you are editing an image, you really want to edit the pixel data and not a group of colors. Editing a RAW image in editing software results in more banding in color transitions, instead of smooth gradients you would expect. Processing the images to JPG in camera does take longer to store the image on the memory card, which could fill up the memory buffer and decrease your photos per second.

The JPG standard is necessary for you to be able to view and print the image. The RAW data is not an image, but is necessary for us to create and edit the image into something you can see and use. This is the final edited image that we release to you and is representative of our work.

We're sorry, but we guard our copyrights and do not provide the RAW images. When we provide our final images, those images are representative of our work and what we want the world to see. Providing those RAW images would enable you to edit your own image, which would conflict with how we want our work represented. If you would like an image edited another way, please ask us.

Absolutely! This is one area where we believe we excel and are different from our competitors. We go the extra mile to take an image from ordinary to extraordinary. Starting with a crisp image, we add our detailed edits, and provide you with a high quality image you can be proud of.

The Stunning Amy McLane at K Bar S Lodge, Hill City, South Dakota

The amazing Larry McDonald at Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The fantastic Wiens family at Will Rogers Park, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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