Why Take the Time to Edit Your RAW Files?

I often ask myself as I go through images after a shooting session if it is worth the time to edit any given image? I attempt in this post to show why it is worth spending the time or at least why it is worth keeping all of your RAW files so you can come back to even some of the most bland originals to play with them and see what you might be able to bring out in them.

Have a look at the photograph below and compare the before and after results, I will add some other examples later in this post to help illustrate the point further.

Before & After Editing

Looking at the above image and comparing the two photographs I would almost bet that unless we were talking about editing it would be likely that they would not be assumed to be the same photograph. Added to that only editing in Lightroom has been done to this photograph meaning that you don’t need to have amazing Photoshop skills to achieve really good results. The image below is closer and you can easily see that they are the same photograph. However the edited version is in my opinion much better.

Before & After

Now what am I trying to say? Ultimately I want to illustrate a point that because of how much extra data is stored in a raw file you can recover a lot of detail even in what can appear to be a bland photograph. Spending time editing is NOT a substitute for striving to get it right straight out of the camera. This always is my ultimate goal. But sometimes due to circumstance or lighting the optimal settings aren’t appropriate for the entire frame. Or you want to experiment with settings to see which will give you the best results. The transformation can vary between minor through to the example of the first photograph shown in this post. One last example below where the result from the camera is close but the editing overlayed improves the result.

In summary I’m encouraging you to look at your raw files in a different light, look at them as an opportunity play around but definitely do NOT delete them it is worth the effort and time. I will look at posting about the process I use for editing in the near future restricting it to Lightroom but in the meantime if you have any questions about what I do and how I do it feel free to ask.

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