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Why I shoot RAW; historical DSLR photo retouching with modern tools and insights gained

Published September 24th, 2012

When I got my first DSLR I didn't even know what I didn't know about DSLR's and their systems. Coming from film I knew enough to stay clear of the new bridge systems and was eventually talked into the Nikon system and the just introduced D40x. I quickly learned the issues of DX vs FX sensor formats as my 55-200mm lens was not the same as my 50mm, 100mm, and 70-210mm lenses on 35mm film formats. I was smart enough to capture everything in RAW format, NEF files, and the digital program that came with the camera was ill suited for image editing and Photoshop was just too expensive.

Fast forward a few years and I have since worked through multiple upgrades to Capture NX2, Nikon's RAW processing program and more robust than the photo cataloging and light editing View NX2. This has improved lens distortion correction, white balancing, Picture Control settings, noise reduction, and general experience in using the programs and their tools. This has cut the time needed in working on photos and making adjustments to re-create what I was seeing with my eye to what is displayed on the monitor.

Going back to review the older photos, using the cut down in time from shooting and gaps in work and family times, I am now able to correct errors, missteps, and just plain dumb settings I put into the camera, or it selected, and re-create the image I was seeing at that time. All the images here were shot years ago and recently re-processed with modern tools. This highlights my findings to the advantages of RAW files and the power of being able to use digital darkroom techniques, filters, and steps to get the image back to its original view. While its best to get it right in camera first, it isn't always able to happen, or as two of the shots demonstrate the ability to stretch time and produce the creative vision I had at the time I made the images.

Light waves

Long exposure at traffic signal light, Guangzhou China

Urban Egg

Reflection in still pool made this striking building resemble a giat egg

Teamworks

Bangkok royal palace temple decorations

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