Damn it, damn it, damn it, damn it…


I absolutely hate it when I do something stupid. Then again, I imagine most everyone hates it when they do something stupid. But this blog is about me and not everyone else, so at the moment I’m very busy hating myself for doing something stupid.

Yesterday (Saturday, 25 April 2009) I hooked up with fellow Flickrites Edgar and Ron at Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm. We were going to stroll about the grounds (and then head over to Aullwood Gardens) in hopes of finding interesting things to photograph, but before we even got started Edgar realized he had accidentally left his camera at home. Not completely his fault, mind you, as they were waylaid by a last-minute telephone call, which put them off their game.

For this photographic adventure I had elected to instead make use of my car-camera: the Rebel XTi (400D for you European types) with accompanying lenses, instead of my more usual kit (the Canon 40D and such). As I had just been to both Aullwood Audubon Center and Aullwood Gardens the week previous, I didn’t feel the need to carry my more serious equipment and looked forward to the much lighter and more transportable Rebel. But now we had a man down, so to speak, and as such I did the valiant thing and offered my Rebel to Edgar. He was hesitant at first, but Ron convinced him to accept my most generous offer, especially since I was able to use my 40D, which was in the car anyway.

As Edgar uses a point-n-shoot camera we made adjustments to the settings of my Rebel to better reflect the way his camera would shoot and the way he uses his camera. One particular adjustment to the settings was to turn off shooting in RAW and engage shooting in JPEG, which I no longer do at all. For the most part Edgar was satisfied with the adjustments and went about taking pictures for the afternoon.

Once we returned to the cars and said our goodbyes I immediately set out to revert the Rebel XTi to my preferred settings so that said camera would be ready-to-go at a moments notice, as is its typical usage. Except for one thing: I forgot to switch back to RAW.

Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!

And I’m all “damn it, damn it, damn it,” because I took a quick trip today to a park which I had not yet visited: Charleston Falls Preserve (part of the Miami County Park District, Ohio). I called it a recce and as such wasn’t going to bring any camera, but at the last moment elected to bring along the ready-to-go Rebel. And I’m glad I did. I may have obtained a handful of decent photos from the excursion, but it was when I was only minutes away from the end of the trail (the return leg as I had been in the park for about 2-hours by then) when I realized that I had been shooting in JPEG all day!

Don’t get me wrong…there’s nothing really wrong with shooting in JPEG. Lots of folks never do anything but shoot in JPEG and they take awesome shots! That said, I much prefer shooting in RAW because it allows me greater control over the final product and, perhaps most importantly, allows me to sometimes salvage photos that might have been designated to the round file otherwise.

Damn it.


19 thoughts on “Damn it, damn it, damn it, damn it…

  1. I know RAW can come handy, but isn’t it a real challenge to get your exposures right when you make a photograph? In that case the jpegs could serve you really well. With RAW I think many people are less concerned about the proper white balance setting, and good exposure, because they think it can be fixed later.

    OK, that it just my thought. And you are right, it is stupid šŸ˜€ But now we want to see the photographs.

  2. “One particular adjustment to the settings was to turn off shooting in RAW and engage shooting in JPEG, which I no longer do at all.’

    Not to brag (okay I am) but my new D60 allows me to shoot in RAW and automatically make a copy in JPEG at the same time šŸ™‚

    However, before I realized I had this feature I shot Great Falls, VA in Raw and had a real hell of a time converting photos to JPEG via my computer – then I discovered that I could convert them right on the camera – painstakingly though!

    • My camera’s shoot in both JPEG and RAW simultaneously too. I just don’t bother with the JPEG since I”m working with the RAW anyway. Just saves me space on the media card!

    • I also shoot in both formats….after a couple mishaps on a couple different outings I don’t want to make that mistake ever again.

  3. Yippee, I’m back! Well, for a brief time anyway.

    Aren’t you just so pleased to see me here again? Yep, thought you would be.


    And imagine my glee to discover that my re-appearance coincides with you berating yourself (“at the moment Iā€™m very busy hating myself for doing something stupid”).

    Well, in between chortling with uncontrollable mirth, what can I say?

    But I’ll let you into a little secret…

    During my recent little escapade in London at a point when it all seemed about to kick off with the cops I (following a strategy that my partners in dodgy doings and I had agreed beforehand) quickly switched to JPEG shooting, mainly cos the camera writes them to the card that much quicker so one can shoot more in a burst.

    And guess what? Once it had all settled down again what didn’t thicko here remember to do? Yep. Switch back to RAW. I have a sneaky recollection that my language at the time was a bit harsher than “damn it, damn it, damn it”.

    So don’t feel too mournful about your momentary lapse.


    Chatting with Wouter:

    “With RAW I think many people are less concerned about the proper white balance setting, and good exposure, because they think it can be fixed later.”

    Yeah, you’re prob’ly right in some instances, but it doesn’t always apply. No matter how “spot on” you try to get the pic “in camera” RAW still seems to produce a better image than JPEG. For starters, they’re HDR files of a sort, which JPEGs definitely aren’t.
    And given that RAW files are broadly equivalent to the negatives of film shooting, consider this…

    Were you shooting with film, which would you rather retain… just the prints (JPEG equivalents) or the prints and the negatives (RAW equivalents)?

    That said, personally I always try (with varying measures of success of course) to frame and shoot exactly as I want the finished pic to be, and I’d argue that anyone who’s constantly seeking to “improve” their photography would do the same.
    If I have to do a load of post-processing to get a decent pic then I tend to regard that as an admission of failure in some way.

    • I am sorry M. to steal your post but Mike has some good questions and observations.

      In the analogue age I used slide instead of film. And yes, you right that the negatives were kind of RAW equivalents. But with slide you had to get things right. There was no adjusting after that. Failed exposure, was a failed slide. That is why I think shooting jpegs is important to learn to understand photography, learn to expose properly and when you feel comfortable with the techniques and the camera aspects move on to RAW. Some may differ of course.

      I currently use the Sigma DP1 and I also tried it with jpegs, but these are horrible. The RAW’s are better, but I do think that you get the best out of RAW when you nailed the exposure. Then you have to do limited amount of post-processing. RAW can a beast and I hate it when so many RAW converters deliver different results.

      And despite shooting jpegs you were able to take great photographs in London during the during the G20. Well done.


      • Hi Wouter!

        Yeah, let’s steal his post why don’t we… not as though he doesn’t deserve it, always wingeing on and stuff.

        Anyway, I’m not really knocking shooting in JPEG… after all, that’s how I began to get my head around all this digital photography lark in the first place. And in many ways they’re so much easier to work with.

        In fact, when I first started I wouldn’t even countenance shooting RAW. Aside from anything else the files are so much bigger which can present its own problems if the computer one’s using isn’t rich in the RAM department.

        Until, that is, a mate nagged me (over quite a few months) into making the transition. Now of course I wouldn’t, of choice, switch back (bar occasions such as I’d related in my original comment).

        And I’ve gotta agree with you… if you can get everything right “in camera” then you’ll almost certainly end up with a better result. But that applies equally whether you’re shooting JPEG or RAW.
        Moreover, I’d speculate that anyone who’s serious about their photography will try to get it right regardless of what they’re shooting in.

        Interesting what you say about RAW converters though, which bears out totally my own experiences. Currently I use Lightroom which seems to be a fairly reasonable all-rounder. A while ago I came across an article about the lack of standards in RAW files and that might go some way toward explaining such “discrepancies”. I’ll see if I can turf out the link.

        Finally, gotta clarify one little point… thanks for the comment re the G20 pics but, despite my forgetfulness in switching back to RAW after the momentary “excitement”, the bulk of them were still shot in RAW. It was just that I hadn’t remembered to immediately switch back.


  4. While using the Sigma DP1 now I, for the first time, have a RAW converter that actually reads the in-camera settings and applies it on my RAW photographs. I have never seen that before. Yes, Lightroom is quite simple and it reads the white balance and tint, but so does Capture One. Unfortunately both programs make the photographs look different. Have you compared Canon’s RAW converter to Lightroom?

    And you are right Mike about a proper RAW photograph. With only some minor adjustments like a little contrast boost with a moderate S-curve is usually enough to get great looking photographs. When most of your photographs from the G20 are still RAW, then you did an excellent job.

    I don’t think Mark hates it when we steal his post šŸ˜€ He is probably still a sleep.


  5. Hi Wouter.

    Well, LR does a little bit more than white balance and tint… the default connverter it uses (in the version I’m using anyway) is ACR 4.4
    But, the Samsung GX10 (my cam of choice… Pentax K10D equivalent) generates RAW files with a camera profile embedded that Lightroom will quite happily read and apply if I set it that way, though the differences between the output of that and ACR 4.4 are marginal.

    That doesn’t appear to happen with the RAW files from the Canon, but that might account for the much larger sizes of the GX10 files.

    So far the most noticeable differences I’ve found are with files from the GX20 (Pentax K20D equivalent), where Samsung’s own RAW converter seems to do a significantly better job. But the interface is clunky and it doesn’t have anywhere near as many features as Lightroom.
    Though again, LR seems to work reasonably well in reading the embedded profile.

    Yeah, I tried the Canon converter but didn’t care for it too much. I think a large part of that may be that, having become so used to a particular interface I’m a bit resistant to change.


    • The Lightroom user interface is just perfect and while the results are not always the best, there is hardly any other program around that makes so much fun.

      The larger file size might also have something to do with not compressing the files in-camera. My camera produces 17MB without an embedded jpeg while the Adobe DNG converter loosely compresses the data to something like 12MB

  6. Note for Wouter:

    Coupla comments back I mentioned about a reference I’d found to discrepancies between RAW files from different manufacturers and said I’d try to find the link again. This was the phrase I’d had in mind…

    “All raw converters perform all of these tasks, but they may use very different algorithms to do
    so, which is why the same image may look quite different when processed through different raw
    converters. Some converters will map the tones flatter to provide editing headroom while others
    will try to achieve a more film-like look by increasing the contrast of the curve.
    Generally, there is no one single “correct” interpretation of a given raw format. Vendors make a
    relatively subjective determination of what the best “look” is, and then adjust their converter to
    produce that result.”

    It comes from an informative article (downloadable as a .pdf file) on Adobe’s site… Understanding Digital RAW Capture


    • Thanks for the search Mike. It also comes to mind what can be described as one “single” correct interpretation. Just from the fact that Adobe supports so many RAW files with ACR and LR is just an incredible job in my opinion.

      The only thing I have with ACR and LR is that it applies some sort of noise reduction, even when all the sliders are just at zero. Up until know I thought Capture One did the best job, as did RAW Developer (, but that one is only Mac).


      • I’ve been using Capture One since I started shooting in RAW, but just made the jump to LR.

        I’m not certain which I prefer as yet, but it wouldn’t be a fair fight anyway as I was using a less powerful version of Capture One 4.

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