art, photography, technical

editing a raw file

Wow, what a long time! I started this post back in March 2015! 😳😲 Unbelievable!
Recently, I got again a question on my workflow, so I decided to finally finish this post. Hint: This post contains some links to software manufacturers. No one paid me anything for getting a link or had any influence on my opinion.

Besides creating jpg files directly in-camera many digital cameras are able to create raw files instead of the JPG or in addition. Raw file means saving the bare information captured by the sensor and not processing it in-camera. This has a couple of advantages. A few years ago, I already published a post on these advantages. Many years ago, I decided to capture only raw files and process them myself afterward to have more control over the process and the final look. No, don’t get me wrong, I don’t use any filters. In only do, what was necessary back in film days.

In the past, I already published some posts covering how I store my images and a bit about, why I’m doing the extra work for raw development. Some of the benefits of doing it this way are in this post. I really encourage you to click on the links and read a bit about the background. Although most recent digital cameras are really great in creating good-looking JPGs, you still have a lot more in raw.

I’m using dedicated raw-processing software and it’s not Lightroom, because this software needs so much unnecessary work which stands in the way where I’d have to work around. The workflow is complicated and not straightforward. And, you’re locked into the software when you want to keep access to your own work.

The DAM (Digital Asset Management) would be nice for the final images, but it’s absolutely the wrong way to import all undeveloped images only for deleting a huge portion right after the import. A database makes additional problems when being used that way and slows down the computer over time. You can google for these problems and find gazillions of people suffering from them. An often recommended solution of having a separate catalog for each job on the other hand leads the whole idea ad absurdum. (btw. the same is true for the recent versions of Luminar, and that’s the reason why I left their affiliate program). Not being able to save all your edits outside of a catalog also hinders you to get your image edited by someone else and get the edits back for learning from the outcome.

These are my steps after coming back from a job or a trip:

  1. copy all images in a dedicated folder on my internal disk named with the date and a tiny description of the contents (i.e. 20210507 – garden birds)
  2. create a first backup of the whole bunch of images, which will hopefully never be used
  3. import the GPS data into the image files (only for trips)
  4. normalize the file names when having used more than one camera body to get them in the right order again. My naming scheme is YYYYMMDD_hhmmss-XXX_xxx.NEF. I guess the first and second part of date and time is easily understandable. I take this information from the metadata of each file: the time of releasing the shutter. The XXX stands for a 3 digit code of the used camera body followed by 4 numbers. These third and fourth parts are given to the file by the camera at creation time. The metadata are pieces of information stored in the images by the camera at the time when the image is captured.
  5. create a second backup on a second external disk. This one is my backup in case of an emergency.
  6. open up a digital light table to check the images and select the ones to get processed.
  7. create a sub-folder called “edit” and copy all selected images in this folder, direct the raw processor to the edit folder and process the images
  8. the final steps are already in the post, I mentioned above.

In this post, I want to describe the actions I do in my raw processor. You know, I started photography more than 40 years ago and run my own lab in those days.  And the options I had in those days are still the steps I do in digital photography:

  1. remove some blemishes and dust-spots
  2. brighten the shadows and darken the lights to get a better balance in the image if necessary
  3. balance the horizon if necessary
  4. correct the with balance if necessary
  5. boost the vibrance or increase the saturation if necessary
  6. crop, if necessary
  7. post-sharpening
  8. export to jpg

You see, my workflow is quite easy and straightforward. It costs me a maximum of approximately 2 minutes per image. Some of the actions can be bundled and applied to a couple of images at the same time to speed up the work. But, in general, I’m not a big fan of such bundlings, besides the export to jpg.

You might ask, what kind of software you can use. There are a couple of commercial products around. All I know, offer trial versions for a couple of days/weeks: DxO Photolab, Capture One Pro (free versions for some Fuji and Sony cameras available), OnOne Photo Raw, NX Studio (free, Nikon only – afaik Canon has something similar), and some open-source products, which are also free of charge: Rawtherapee, Lightzone, ufraw, digikam, Darktable. Affinity Photo is more a replacement for Photoshop or Gimp, although it also has a good raw development module. Photoshop brings kind of a lite-version of Lightroom for raw development called Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Gimp incorporates either ufraw or Rawtherapee, depending on the operating system you’re using. There might be some more products in the market, which I didn’t mention here because I don’t know them. So, this list isn’t complete. Sorry!

Although the open-source products usually have a background in the Linux community, they are also available for Windows and macOS. I worked with all of them a bit and would recommend either Lightzone or Rawtherapee. ufraw is a bit like Adobe Camera Raw for Photoshop. Darktable has the same mechanisms as Lightroom. So, it’s unusable for me. I don’t want to import the raw files into a database and stick with this single database because all of my edits are in that database. A corrupt database could make me lose all ever-done edits. DigiKam is an all-in-one solution: fat but mighty. I like the organizing module very much: DAM = Digital Assets Management. For some time, I’m using Excire Foto for DAM. You see, the linked post is quite old. I have to write a new one. This product is amazing.

For modern lenses, it is extremely important to have software being able to adjust and correct lens failures: barrel or cushion distortion and achromatic abbreviations. Back in the film days, the good lenses were designed for not having them. Nowadays it’s easier (and cheaper for the manufacturer) to create a piece of software to correct the failures. All the software I mentioned above is IMHO able to work that way. On the other hand, I have a lot of old lenses, which don’t need such corrections.

In case, you want to start developing your photos, I’d recommend either DigiKam, because it is an all-in-one solution, or Lightzone / Rawthereapee. In case, you need some image manipulation tools, try gimp. You can find tutorials on the relevant homepage I mentioned above or on YouTube. Although there are rumors of Gimp would be complicated, that’s not completely true. Also, Photoshop is very complicated, but there are more talkative called-by-themselves experts telling it otherwise because they are kind of experienced because of extensive usage. Each software is complicated on the first try. But, open-source software usually has a very active community willing to help when you’re investing at least a bit of time reading or watching (YouTube) tutorials. The other option is, to give one of the commercial software a try and download the trial version. Also, commercial software needs you to learn how to handle them. So, giving open-source a try first, won’t cost you any money. When talking about commercial software, I like DxO Photolab the most followed by Capture One Pro. When it comes to image manipulation software, I’m using Gimp and Affinity Photo. In the past, I used Photoshop CS6, but it’s not necessary anymore. First, I need such software only for approximately 10-20 images a year, on the other hand, Gimp has everything, I need. A few weeks ago, I published an article on one of my use cases for image manipulation software on NikonRumors and here in my blog.

I tried all the products I mentioned above last year when I had to investigate a replacement for my raw development software. Although the last update was in 2012 it run well and gave me the flexibility, quality, and tools I needed. Unfortunately, the developer decided to retire the software. For some years I was unable to re-install it if there were a reason to do so, but the recent updates of the operating software of my computer made the tool even completely unusable. So, I needed to find a replacement and I did. Recommending software to someone else is not easy because everyone has her own workflow, her own requirements, and her own wishes. So, you have to try on your own and find the software fulfilling all of your requirements to the best.

Below, you can see two screenshots from while developing a raw image in LightZone. The final image is on the top of this post.

browsing a folder with raw files with the folder structure on the left and the metadata of the selected image to the right

 

a couple of presets on the left, first developing step on the right and seeing the distribution of light in the image (Zone Model of Anselm Adams) in the upper right corner

 

Read the steps on the right from bottom to top. The last step is missing: sharpening

In this image, it was necessary to darken the highlights to recover the fine structures in the petals. In-camera development would have left only completely white spaces. From the raw file, I was able to recover the fine lines in the petals as well as the stamens. The erected twig was removed afterward with image manipulation software (Gimp) as well as the cropping.

Take care and happy snapping 😊

Computer, feedback, history, photography, postprocessing, review, software, technical

Throwback Thursday: huge machines

A few weeks ago, I was on the road quite early for capturing flowers right after sunrise. Unfortunately, they were not blooming when I arrived, because of the too cold temperature we had during the last couple of weeks.

On my way back, I stopped at this huge machine, standing in a vast hole in the ground. I’m standing at the edge of the hole. In the back, you can spot another of these machines right above the edge of the excavation. Also, compare it with the white car. This car is a pickup. So, it’s not that small. I’ve never before been so close to such a huge machine. It’s used as a stacker to put the unusable earth back in the hole because they only want to have the brown coal.

I already published images from that digging pit a couple of times. In this post, published about 10 years ago, you can get a bit of an overview. Or, here, you can see, how it looks at night. While you can here find an image of the hole taken with a fisheye lens.

Although I hate how they treat the earth so badly by grabbing brown coal from the ground for using it inefficiently to burn it for producing electricity power, I find these huge machines really fascinating. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the day they are not needed anymore.

Take care!

 

abstract, art, autumn, culture, fall, flowers, food, photo-of-the-day, photography, technical, world

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 118: “communication”

LAPC is hosted this week by a guest host again: Biasini. She asks for our understanding of “communication”.

The first thing coming to my mind is the famous statement by the was an Austrian-American family therapist, psychologist, communication theorist, and philosopher Paul Watzlawick. He said, “you can not not communicate”. It’s not a typo doubling the word “not”.  It’s simple. Whenever people come together they communicate. They communicate by their clothing, posture, mimic, and gesture – the body language.

Besides direct (oral or body language) communication between humans, we also have signs, i.e. traffic signs, lighthouses, writings, and so on.

Take care!

abstract, art, autumn, culture, fall, flowers, food, photo-of-the-day, photography, technical, world

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 117: “A Photo Walk”

LAPC is hosted this week by Amy and she asks for images of a photowalk.

At least, once a month I go on a photowalk. That our monthly photographer’s roundtable. It’s always fun: walk, talk, take photos, and discuss the results afterward online.

These images are taking during my last photowalk two weeks ago. I had to take care of my grand-son that day and took him to the hills above the town. Our goal was a visit to the deer enclosure, a round trip of about 3 km or so. From the parking ground, our path first led us through the fields where we saw corn, apples, horses, and cows. Next, we entered the forest to reach the enclosure, soon. We also passed an area, where the lumbermen cut many trees and prepared them for transport. Many things for such a young guy to discover. Finally, we reached the enclosure. Unfortunately, only one deer was visible. The enclosure is big enough to offer a lot of hides to the animals. So, we only saw one. Fortunately, the little guy wasn’t disappointed and walked back with me willingly. Btw. yesterday, he turned 4!

Take care!

abstract, art, culture, flowers, food, photo-of-the-day, photography, technical, world

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 116: “symmetry”

This week, Patti is the host for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge and she asks for symmetric images.

You can find symmetry in nature, but more often you can find it in architecture or man-made gardens (i.e. around renaissance chateaus). In nature, the petals of blossoms are very often symmetric and the leaves of many plants. Also, legs, arms, eyes, ears, wings, and many inner organs of animals and humans.

 

inside a Venetian castle
on top of a mine’s winding tower
The public library in Tromsœ, Norway
a great tit with her mirror image
a modern bus stop at night
the Menai suspension bridge connecting Anglesey to the mainland in Wales, UK
Kochelsee, Allgäu, Germany

 

tram station in Oberhausen, Germany
A view inside the outside walls of Harpa in Reykjavik, Iceland
Inside the garden of Claude Monet in Giverny, France

 

The working platform around a chimney in a steel plant
the colonnade of an old castle
The lighthouse in Pilsum, Germany
water lily blossom

Take care!

abstract, art, culture, flowers, food, photo-of-the-day, photography, technical, world

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 115: “Inspiration”

It’s Tina‘s turn, this week. She picked “Inspiration” as the subject for this week’s challenge. Challenge accepted 🙂

I’m always inspired by nature. Mother nature (or the God behind) found so many different ways to solve problems of life. Where i.e. one species of insect-eating bird would be enough we find thousands. Where one kind of plant would be enough to keep the soil in place, we find thousands. Gazillions of different kinds of living creatures inhabit this wonderful planet: mammals, birds, saurians, amphibians, fishes, trees, bushes, plants, and so on. And all these different kinds of landscapes. Our wonderful planet is so rich. Or, like Sam Cook once sang: Its a wonderful world.

Now, I could simply add nearly all of my images here in a gallery. But, I only pick some to demonstrate the beauty of this planet.

Take care!

abstract, art, culture, flowers, food, photo-of-the-day, photography, technical, world

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 114: “Negative Space”

Negative space isn’t something negative as you might assumed when reading the subject of this blog post. It’s a kind of emphasizing your main subject in photography by having quite a lot ’empty’ room around your main subject. You can find many examples here in my blog or on my Instagram account.

This week Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is hosted by Amy and she picked “Negative space” to challenge us.

 



Take care!

abstract, art, culture, flowers, food, photo-of-the-day, photography, technical, world

Lens-Artists Challenge #112 – “Pick a Word…”

Ok, Leya, I picked my word from your list. I’ve chosen simply the first one “comfortable”.

Although it’s still summer (according to the calendar), it feels much more like a fall. The apples in our garden are ripe and we picked already some of them to eat them, make juice, and apple purée. Also, the blackberries are ripe to make juice, jam, crumbles, and liqueur.

Much of rain, cold winds even the first November storm (I know, it’s still August) rushed over the land. When the sun comes through, the air stays cold. Soon, the t-shirts have to make room for the thick pullovers.

But, that’s the time for cozy evenings at the fireplace, if your house has one (ours has not). Otherwise, you could put a DVD with a movie of a fireplace in your DVD player. Enlight some candles and some joss sticks. Take a cup of coffee or tee and take a seat. Watch how the wind plays with the fallen leaves.

 

I took this photo a couple of years ago when I was in Brittany with some friends. We had rented a former farmhouse with 6 rooms, a large kitchen, and a nice garden. But, we didn’t use the house that much, because we were a lot outside for discovering the country, taking photos and visiting the beaches. We were there pre-season in June and enjoyed the evenings with the fire.

Take care!

abstract, art, culture, flowers, food, photo-of-the-day, photography, technical, world

Lens-Artists Challenge #111 – “everyday objects”

This week it’s Patti’s turn to challenge us and she has chosen the topic “everyday objects” because she recently started unpacking stored things packaged about two years ago.

So, let’s try and have a look, what I found in my archive.

 

Children are eager to pick them, but adults usually don’t pay attention on chestnuts on the ground, especially when wet.

This is a carder wool bee. We don’t notice them while they are working. But, we’re happy when we get fruits as a result of their successful work.

We’re also happy when all of our machines work properly. We only pay attention, when something goes wrong.

 

Have you ever seen straws like this??

What do you see? It’s a toy for very small kids. The can learn to grasp.

Insects are annoying. But, did you ever saw their beauty?

When you’re going in the city, have a look up along the buildings. It’s often interesting how they are constructed.

 

 

Everyone is every now and then waiting at a bus stop. See, how the night can change the appearance. Light changes everything. Open up your eyes and see!

 

Guess, what I have here for you!

Five eggs in their box. Were you right?

A candle enlights a room. But, what happens when you blow out the flame?

 

 

You’re sitting in front of a computer, right? See, what’s inside of it!

Fall again. The hazelnuts are ripe. Without color, it looks unfamiliar, right?

 

Did your eyes follow the pipes? Do so. Look, where they will lead you!

Old buildings usually have beautiful staircases. Count the floors and wonder!

A straightened light works out the shape of the keys.

You can have so much fun when looking carefully at the surroundings. Change the way you look at them. Change the light and / or the position of your eyes.

A very special kind of seeing the world around you in a different kind is converting your camera to ‘see’ either infrared or ultra-violet.

Take care!

abstract, art, culture, flowers, food, photo-of-the-day, photography, technical, world

Lens-Artists Challenge #110 – “creativity in the time of COVID19”

Covid19 – a term, rising memories to the pest epidemics from the medieval ages, where town became nearly deserted.

The current pandemic is kind of worse. An epidemic is limited to a certain region. A pandemic, instead, is worldwide. Here in Europe, the pandemic started end of February, that’s more than half a year ago. In the beginning, our government ordered us to stay at home. Only the most necessary or essential leaves were allowed. We were ordered to go into lockdown.

You know, I’m meeting with other photographers once a month for our monthly roundtable. Certainly, this wasn’t allowed. So, we had to start something else. We needed to become creative for coping with the new situation. Tina Shell asks this week for the Lens-Artists Challenge to show such creative ideas. Here is our (my) answer.

Instead of meeting in a certain location and doing our photo-walk as usual (the location is always negotiated online in the week before the meeting), we met online in a conference call for talking about 2,5 hours. To have a relation to our normal main topic (photography) I had a special idea. I own a deck of inspiring cards. Each of these cards has a special idea and is meant to train creativity in photography. This time, I picked one card for each participant in advance of the meeting and sent a photo of the card to them. One week, each of us had to think about the content and find a solution for presenting up to 5 images during the meeting. It was a great success!

My topic was: backlit (others were: hot, cold, yellow, from below, from above, from behind, blue)

Here are my results:

 

moss, about to start blooming very soon equipped with some dew drops (macro)
oil drops (macro)

 

product image of a collectible bottle

 

star magnolia in the garden

 

amaryllis petals in our living room

 

white tulip blossom in a vase on our kitchen table

 

oil drops (macro)

 

All of these are photographs! During raw development, I only adjusted the lights and the darks slightly and did some post-sharping.

Take care

art, culture, history, photo-of-the-day, photography, technical, travel, world

Lens-Artists Challenge #108 – “sanctuary”

My pause lasted a bit longer than expected, but I’m back for the next Lens-Artists Challenge. This time, we have a guest host. It’s Xenia from tranature and she asks for our understanding of “sanctuary”. In her own post, she showed us a couple of images where nature is the main part. Preservation of nature and animal shelter came up time my mind right after the original meaning of a holy place, i.e. the sanctuarium in a medieval cloister.

 

Each harbor is a sanctuary for the ships. As soon as a ship leaves the port behind, the seamen are on their own to make the trip a success. Nature has such mighty forces to bring even huge modern supertankers, freighters or container ships to the edge of their possibilities and to jeopardize the success of their journey.

Take care

art, culture, history, photo-of-the-day, photography, technical, travel, world

Lens-Artists Challenge #100 – “The Long and Winding Road”

Today, it’s Tina’s turn to challenge us and the asks for long and winding roads.

Come, follow me to the fantastic island located in the nothern Atlantic: Iceland

even this is a road for cars

I love this image very much. The tiny car crossing the river in the front part of the image isn’t a toy car. It’s a big offroad van instead.

 

Or do you prefer Scotland?

Now, we’re on the Isle of Skye:

 

 

 

You can also travel in Wales.

 

Maybe you like a railrod more than a paved or a gravel road

A short trip to the Czech Republic for visiting their nice capitol: Praque

In the Alpes, like here in Switzerland, you can find lots of winding roads .

Sometimes, roads don’t look like a road, but they are like here in the wonderful Valley de Viñales in the north of Cuba

 

Also, rivers are roads:

 

You can see the roads even better from above by getting in an hot-air ballon:

Now, lets sing together with Louis Armstrong “(What a) Wonderful World”!

 

btw. some guys really love winding roads:

 

Take care