Do yourself a favor here: click on the picture to see it in the Flickr gallery, and then click the option to see it full-size. I’m not trying to be conceited or anything, but when I posted the image here on the blog it seemed like some of the sharpness and richness of color somehow got lost with the small size.

Did you do it? Cool :)

It was kind of a dreary day when I shot this image, and my coworker and I went out for a very short walk to just get out of the office for a few minutes. As I often do I had my camera with me (which is increasingly becoming my D7100 while my D200 sadly gathers dust on the shelf) just in case we came across a picture opportunity, and while I had no intention of taking pictures of these small bushes I did notice two things as we passed by that made me think twice: the mix of rich colors along with the bits of rain that had pooled among their leaves. First I took a couple shots from a low angle looking out over the bushes while trying to keep one large drop of water in focus, but they didn’t turn out all that great and looked rather derivative of some similar pictures I have taken in the past. Since I don’t look at the LCD screen on my camera that often I didn’t know how these initial images turned out, but as we kept walking I saw another cluster of colored leaves that was just begging to be photographed.

For the shot above I stood directly above this patch of leaves, set my aperture for f/2.8, and popped off a couple shots at 1/180 second with an ISO of 125. Even though the day was rather overcast there was plenty of light for shooting with a fast shutter and low ISO which turned out to be a huge benefit once I loaded this picture up in Lightroom. The original picture looks bland, boring, and altogether forgettable but thanks to the magic of shooting in RAW I was able to take the picture to (cliché warning) a whole new level.

Original un-retouched RAW file

Original un-retouched RAW file

This image is OK, but it’s lacking the texture and crispness of the edited file, and I also like how in the final version there is something in the way of a clear focal point as well. The larger drops in the top-left quadrant serve to anchor the picture and draw your attention, but in the original file there isn’t a good sense of what you are supposed to look at. I know some people who shoot in RAW but don’t do anything to the files in post, and while I’m not one to tell anyone how he or she should approach his or her own photography, I will say that if you are not doing anything to your RAW files you might as well shoot in JPG and let your camera take care of interpreting the data how it wants to. Neither one is necessarily good or bad and both have tradeoffs, but it might be worth your time to play around with your RAW files a bit in Lightroom or Photoshop to get a little more out of them than you might initially realize.

Anyway, sorry for the somewhat technical tangent there. I hope you like the picture and if nothing else, I hope you find time in the coming few days to get your camera out and go take some pictures with it :)


  1. Glenys Rumble says

    I like this image, and you are right about taking the image in Raw and then transferring to Photoshop or lightroom. I always do this. I took an image of Mahonia Japonica in the Autumn/Winter one year, the colours were fantastic and the shapes of the leaves were such that a beautiful image was the result

  2. Simon —
    Thank you for a good lesson today in RAW v. JPEG and the ability to enhance work in Photoshop or Lightroom. Obviously, the difference between the original shot and the final one is marked. The interplay of colors and shapes is intriguing. Combined with the large and unhurried waterdrops on the leaves, the picture is satisfying and leaves the viewer feeling like they are actually there looking at the scene.
    I guess I will spend some time this weekend with Photoshop and get off JPEG Fine Large!

    • I shot JPEG Fine Large for a while and even JPEG Medium Large, and honestly the shots I took on those settings still look fine to me. It’s weird, honestly. Part of me wants the best possible quality (which is why I shoot RAW) but part of me just wants to take photos and not worry about post-processing (which is why some people like JPEG). I guess the important part is to find a style that works for you and don’t let anyone ever tell you differently :)

      And you know, sometimes I flip through old photo albums with pictures that were taken on terrible Kodak 110 cameras when I was growing up, and even though the pictures are far from perfect they still bring up good memories. Maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about RAW after all…

  3. Love the final image. But I’m curious, how did it look to your eye?

  4. I enlarged it and saw the improvement, especially the beads of rain water on the plants. Very nice shot, Simon! I would consider this one of your best!

  5. Carolana R. says

    Completely agree with you on this. I mostly shoot in raw, however, there are times when jpeg does the job. If it’s a birthday party for the kids………jpeg. If it’s the Grand Canyon………..RAW. Good lesson.

    • That’s a good point, Carolana. Sometimes RAW really is overkill. Last night I was taking a few pics of my kids playing in the yard. After a couple clicks of the shutter I had racked up several hundred megabytes of photos because I was using RAW, whereas JPG probably would have worked fine and saved me a ton of space too.

  6. Beautiful!

  7. Thank you. That is the first argument for shooting in RAW that has me actually considering it. You took a subject that was rather ordinary and turned into something really impressive.

    • I’m glad you liked the article, Diane! I used to only shoot in JPG because I though I didn’t need RAW, but then I started playing around in Lightroom with some of my RAW files and it was like a whole new world opened up. I felt like I was finally able to realize the full potential of so many of my photos!

  8. GIMP is a great tool to use; however, it cannot handle the native RAW file formats of Nikon, Cannon, Sony…etc. It does handle .tiff Raw files though.
    I’ve been using the software that came with my Cannon and even though it’s not as feature rich, it handles it’s own file format well.
    Better than converting to tiff for GIMP IMO.

    • Good tip on using GIMP, Travis though it’s a bummer that it can’t handle RAW files. Do you know if it works with DNG, which is supposedly a much more compatible type of RAW?

      • Unfortunately, GIMP doesn’t support DNG either.

        • That’s unfortunate, but at least it does handle TIFF as you said. The tradeoff is that GIMP is free, but I don’t know if I’d want to deal with all the hassles :)

  9. This is a great photograph :) Thanks for the tip about shooting in RAW! I recently pursued photography as a hobby and am on a constant lookout for inspiration and tips.

    • Thank you Ashka, and I’m glad to hear that you have taken up photography as a hobby! I’m now following you on Instagram and look forward to being inspired by some of your pictures too :)

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