Category Archives: Lighting

File Formats: RAW v JPEG

RAW & JPEG are two different types of electronic file

The principal differences between the two types are:

  • RAW files are literally the raw data as produced by the camera at the moment of pressing the shutter
  • They have no ‘built in’ file format
  • You are then free to adjust this data through Photoshop or a similar application on a computer
  • You can change; exposure, white balance, contrast, brightness, etc
  • You can return all settings to the start point and begin again
  • A RAW file is, in effect, a digital negative

 

  • JPEG’s are generated by the camera after exposure & are written onto the memory card
  • Preset data for exposure, white balance, etc will be embedded in the file & can never be removed
  • The parameters are decided by you in advance
  • Your latitude to change & make alterations afterwards are very limited
  • The file will be compressed & this is achieved by discarding information that can never be retrieved

 

If you are working digitally then having a camera that will allow you to shoot in RAW format as well as JPEG can be an advantage.
However a JPEG that is produced by the camera at the same time as a RAW is not as satisfactory as one that you generate yourself from the RAW file during post-production.
Many DSLR’s will do both RAW & JPEG at the same time but this will reduce storage capacity.

 

Why shoot RAW?

  • When creating digital prints of the highest exhibition quality & size
  • Shooting high ISO values in low light
  • When you want to make high quality monochrome conversions
  • Photographing a subject with a high dynamic range
  • When you are uncertain about the colour temperature of the subject

 

Why shoot JPEG?

  • When the end result is for small scale or low quality output
  • If you need fast workflow
  • When you need low res images for web or onscreen use
  • When you need to shoot quickly
  • When the end result requires minimal post-production
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Filed under Exposure, Lighting, Tech Tips

Why QP Cards?

I started my photography career with analogue and the guys who I assisted and from whom I learnt; Gered Mankowitz, Dave Sherwin, Red Saunders, Gil Galvin and others, taught me the importance of accurately exposing film in camera.

Most images were being made on E6 stock; Kodak Ektachrome 64 and later Fuji 50D then Provia 100, the latitude for error was only about 2/3rd of a stop and over-exposure was not a possibility. Therefore it was fundamental to my practice to learn to correctly use the exposure meter, proof using Polaroid (later Fuji Instant) then relate that exposure to the film. It was common that films varied in colour caste and speed rating so each film batch would vary and needed to be compensated for in camera.

I still have a box of Polaroids in the attic of me posing in all sorts of sets and locations with the exposure and lighting diagram scribbled on the reverse.

When I switched to digital I began using QP Cards as a way of gauging and refining exposure. I felt the need to continue with a rigorous method of determining accurate exposure yet rather than examine Polaroids I now find myself judging the QP Card. I do this on the camera screen, in conjunction with the histogram and on a computer monitor when shooting tethered.

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Shoot with test frame selected

With the eyedropper tool selected I neutralise White Balance by clicking on the grey square of the QP Cards.

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Eye dropper tool selected

Then make any additional minor adjustments via the Tool Tabs for Exposure, Black & White conversion, etc.

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Tool Tabs bar for additional adjustments

Prior to copying the adjustments.

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Copy adjustments

Selecting all the relevant files & applying the saved adjustments to the entire batch.

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Apply adjustments

The beauty of this is the way that it simplifies and speeds up my workflow.

I use Capture One Pro 7 for my image management but Adobe Lightroom is just as suitable.

Remember that QP Cards are not fool proof, nothing is, but then neither is a histogram, a flashmeter or even a Polaroid. You need to combine all of these elements together plus your own innate experience of your camera or film and different lighting situations.

PC_Shot01_0032

Entrance to disused Cruise Missile Bunker, East Anglia
© Julian Hawkins 2013

Details: Nikon D600, 17 – 35mm, ISO 200, 1/2sec , f10

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Wayland’s Smithy – mixed lighting

Adjacent to the Ridgeway, on the chalk downland above the Vale of the White Horse and under 2 miles walk from Uffington Castle and the White Horse itself. This shoot required carrying almost 60kgs of photographic equipment half a mile (0.8kms) from the car – surely one of the over-riding reasons why I took up this profession?

Wayland’s Smithy, take 1

Wayland’s Smithy, take 2

Details: Phase One c/w IQ160, 35mm, ISO 200, 1/4sec , f12

The difference between these two images is purely time. They are 5 minutes apart and in that time the ambient light level dropped by over 2 f-stops as the next rain storm approached.

Again the versatility of working with the Phase One & this time shooting tethered direct into a Mac enabled me to set-up, light & shoot all of this in just 3 frames. My intention was to frame this ancient chamber tomb with the silhouettes from the beech trees whilst lighting the the tomb entrance in particular in such a way to lead the eye inwards and add to the mystery of the place. Lit with a combination of Lumydine and Elinchrom Ranger lights supplied by TFC in London. Legend says (amongst other things I’m sure) that if you’re a traveller whose horse looses a shoe then leaving it overnight here will mean that when you return at dawn it will have been reshod by Wayland himself.

Two other essential tools to me on this shoot where:

The Photographer’s Ephemeris (more soon) in conjunction with the weather from the BBC online.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris

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Prof Robin Baker, OBE

This morning I shot Prof Baker in his Philippe Starck styled office at Ravensbourne College as a collaborative shoot with 1st & 2nd year students and with the Phase One tethered to a Mac. Curiously I shot a portrait Philippe Starck at the The Sanderson Hotel in Berners Steer, London some years ago using a Hasselblad and Fuji Provia 100F.

Image

Prof Robin Baker, OBE

Details: Phase One c/w IQ160, 35mm, 1/8 sec, f14, 50 ISO, 2 x Elinchrom RX600s, 1 x Elinchrom Ranger Quadra flash

This is as part of the 48 Hour marathon work-in organised by second year Digital Photography BA students at the college as a showcase for their work and also their organisational skills. With participation from trade partners The Flash Centre, Phase One, Calumet Photographic and Profoto.

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Light Painting in Wiltshire

Light Painting, Avebury Stones, March 2012

Details: Phase One c/w IQ160, 35mm, 1/30 sec, f14, 200 ISO, no filtration, 1 flash

I always relish a challenge and this was certainly just that. Leaving home at 01.00 to meet the team then drive 140 miles (225 km) with a car full of Elinchrom Ranger Quadra lights, the Phase One camera system and a Nikon to shoot the time lapse we headed out along the M4 away from London. These sort of shoots are always a gamble as the weather or the light doesn’t always work out so I need a head full of optional ideas ‘just in case’.

On this day good fortune was with us. Though the previous day had been very warm and overnight the temperature had fallen considerably causing for a damp atmosphere we weren’t greeted with dense mist as can often form as dawn approaches.

We reached Avebury at 03.45 and were set up by 04.30 with the Nikon already runing in repeat mode to provide over 1000 jpeg stills as content for the DV below and a Sony digital recorder fitted with an external mic to pick up background sound.

My plan was to do a light painting exercise of the stones using the Ranger kits. This is a technique I first learnt as an assistant 30 years ago when we would light industrial machinery in engineering works using just one photoflood tungsten head. I knew that the moment was essential – getting the right balance between a brightening sky before the sun rose whilst having sufficient darkness to make the power/intensity of the flash pull the stones out from the shadows. I shot a total of 23 frames, the entire shoot was completed by 06.45 and we got to Marlborough in time for breakfast at 08.30. A very productive night and day’s photography.

Why not watch the video to get a feel what it was like and for a sense of what happens on Shadows and Light workshops? Listen to the crows greeting the dawn, they always know best.

Time lapse video

Shadows & Light video page

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Mixed Lighting – Hoxton

© Indi Petrucci 2012

Details: Canon  EOS 5D MkII, EF 24-105mm at 24mm, 1/60 sec, f5, 800ISO

Indi Petrucci’s recent black and white street fashion shoot in and around Hoxton Square shows the versatility of the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra portable flash equipment and it’s suitability for mixed lighting technique. In her own words, “Easy to use, efficient and simple. The perfect kit for a photographer on the go on London’s streets.”

© Indi Petrucci 2012

Details: Canon  EOS 5D MkII, EF 24-105mm at 28mm, 1/125 sec, f5, 500ISO

When practicing mixed lighting to create strong visual images with a single flash head the Ranger is an ideal tool. To achieve these particular shots Indi chose to use a ring flash attachment hand held by her assistant either as the principle light source or as a discreet fill-in bounced off a Lastolite. Having scouted locations in advance as part of the pre-production process the whole shoot was completed in just under 3 hours and the results speak for themselves.

© Indi Petrucci 2012

Details: Canon  EOS 5D MkII, EF 24-105mm at 55mm, 1/125 sec, f5, 500ISO

The Flash Centre at their various UK locations are the principle supplier of Elinchrom. I’ve used this brand for more than 20 years suppled by TFC and can’t recommend them enough. I find them sturdy, reliable, built to last and able to copy with the worst of the British weather. The guys to talk to are Alex and Sav in London or Kevin in Birmingham.

If you’re keen to learn about implementing the mixed lighting technique then come and join one of our Mixed Lighting workshops. It’s not as complex as it may at first appear.

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