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MCP Blueprint – ruined photo into something printable (why to shoot Raw)


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One of my customers sent in her plays on a photo.  She actually had sent this to me to use in the All About Curves Workshop she attended.  During the workshop I explained that it was wa too blown out and overexposed – and that her only possible chance for saving it was if she shot Raw.  And she did.

So when I checked email today, I got this surprise play from her.  She 1st rescued the photo in Raw – by decreasing the exposure and using the recovery slider (she did not tell me the amounts – but I would guess quite a bit). This is a perfect example of how RAW can save you if you have an “oops” shot.  The middle photo is after raw. You can see it is way better but still dark and has a color cast.  Read the “blueprint” below to see what actions she used to turn it from the middle example to the last one.

More Blueprints to come – stay tuned.  In the comments – I would love to hear if you shoot RAW or JPG.  Please comment and let me know below.

customer-blueprint MCP Blueprint - ruined photo into something printable (why to shoot Raw) Blueprints Photoshop Tips & Tutorials




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  1. Vicky on March 18, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Your actions certainly are great additions to my workflow! One of these days I will have to send in some before/afters of mine. :)And as far as RAW/JPG goes, I always shoot in RAW for that exact reason. Sometimes, if I goof in camera, I can save a shot that otherwise would have been lost.

  2. Katy G on March 18, 2009 at 8:14 am

    I had no idea that raw could fix such an extreme mistake…would love to shoot in it but not sure which program to edit it in. Any suggestions? I have Adobe CS4 but tried in RAW once and it didn’t work..maybe I’m doing something wrong? Love your blog!

  3. Jodi on March 18, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Katy, not sure what you did – but basically for a photo like this – you would use Lightroom, ACR or Aperture (if Mac). You would take the expsoure down a bunch of stops – as it was way way overexposed. And if any highlights were blowing still you would then use a recovery slider.Hope that helps! I do not always love “saving” pictures – much prefer getting them correct in camera. But occasionally as a photographer our mind can be elsewhere and get a shot that needs saving – as in this one from my customer.Jodi

  4. Ro on March 18, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Funny, Jessica Claire just had a blog post about her dirty little secret – she’s a jpeg girl! I felt so relieved, because so am I. I have shot both in RAW and jpeg, and find that it is excess work to shoot in RAW. Occasionally there is a big fowl up (but nothing as extreme as above), but I shoot jpegs and alot of times bracket in tough situations so there is one there that is good. If I am shooting a wedding, I may or may not switch to RAW during portraits. RAWs take up alot of room, storage is an issue as well. For me, jpegs work.

  5. Tiffany S Vaughan, Bold & Sassy Photography on March 18, 2009 at 8:56 am

    As an amateur photographer, I never shot RAW (was told by a colleague not too actually) until recently (a month or two ago) and it was the BEST thing EVER! First of all, like the photographer in your post, I was able to fix photographs that otherwise would have been ruined! I will never shoot any other way! BTW…I love your actions, I started off with the Quickie Collection and plan to expand soon. Thanks!

  6. Jodi on March 18, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Ro – I hear you on all accounts and for years shot jpg myself. And I have to say I think it made me a better shooter since I had to nail exposure. But once I got LR I was using it the same for RAW or jpg – so I switched and did not look back…

  7. Ginna on March 18, 2009 at 9:21 am

    I shoot in raw, and though it’s a lot of work to process everything I think it’s worth it. I feel like I much more control over what I do now, and better outcomes.I do a lot of shooting inside, and even with a lens that goes all the way to 1.8 I still can’t always get the shutter speed I need. So sometimes I intentionally underexpose and then bring it all back in the raw editor. I’m sure that’s not the best way to do things, but it’s working for me right now!!

  8. Jaycee on March 18, 2009 at 9:35 am

    OMG, bless you woman. This has really helped me alot. I have pictures of one of my quads that passed. Over & under exposed pictures that I refuse to get rid of. How could I? Those are some of my only pictures of him. And they were shot in RAW!! I am so happy! All I was doing before was trying to apply actions to them to fix them. They never looked right. Sometimes the actions made it worse. Because of this tidbit of info, I get to fix them and make an album just for him. Now the hard part will be pulling them up, and actually working on them. Thank you for this!!

  9. Ellen on March 18, 2009 at 9:45 am

    This is great, Jodi! I’ve always been afraid to shoot RAW (I don’t know why – I thought my camera would eat the images if I didn’t shoot in JPEG or something?) but after Phoenix when Red Leaf encouraged us to do something different, I made the switch! Well, the chicken way – I set my camera to RAW & JPEG for a while, but I can see why RAW is so much better…

  10. Melissa C on March 18, 2009 at 9:52 am

    WOW…what a long ways that photo came. I ALWAYS shoot in RAW and LOVE it!!!

  11. Melinda on March 18, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Amazing! I too have been terrified of making the switch to RAW but this post has almost convinced me. As for post processing…doesn’t Photoshop come with In Camera RAW so that you can edit them or am I mistaken?

  12. Jenny on March 18, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Wow. Why do I always start all of my posts here with that word? But I shoot RAW and jpeg. RAW for stuff I use for portraity stuff and jpeg when shooting my son’s baseball games. I think use of both RAW and jpeg is a good combo, it just depends on what you’re using it for. Thanks for another Blueprint. Please, keep them coming! I think I’m going to make me a book with them…

  13. Briony on March 18, 2009 at 10:25 am

    wow this is amazing! I shoot in JPG just because I have yet to understand how to edit a RAW picture. I recently upgraded to CS4 and I think I can now work with RAW, before I had CS and it wouldn’t even let me open the picture. I still really don’t understand RAW but it is things like this that make me want to figure it out.

  14. Amy Dungan on March 18, 2009 at 10:33 am

    What an awesome save! I always shoot in RAW only . I love the freedom I have with RAW knowing I have complete control over every aspect of my shot… as well as the fact that if I have an “oops” shot, RAW allows leeway that JPG doesn’t. Great post!

  15. Jodi on March 18, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Briony – love hearing the word “WOW” – no need to stop – LOL.

  16. Jodi on March 18, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Oh and Jenny – love your WOW too – I think you were actually the one who said that yours always start with it – 2 Wow’s in a row – I got confused.

  17. Paul Kremer on March 18, 2009 at 11:19 am

    That is crazy! I didn’t realize a shot that seems that far gone could be helped. I am still amazed to this day how many options you have to help a picture out, between white balancing, exposure recovery, and detail…oh the detail! Until you have taken a RAW and JPG shot of the exact same thing and zoomed in to 100%, you have no idea how much detail your camera tosses in JPG. I’d rather let Photoshop do the final compress, not my camera. Also, it’s not that much extra work to shoot in RAW. All you need to do is highlight all the pictures in Lightroom, and export to JPG en masse if you want them that way for client proofing, etc. Lightroom saves so much time and makes everything so easy!Honestly, these days I am not sure that “storage space” issues are a good reason not to shoot RAW. Watch sales! I picked up three 8 GB Sandisk Extreme III cards for $90 from Adorama Camera on Black Friday, and then got a $70 rebate. Yes, that’s 24 GB of Extreme III memory for $20. Even right now, you buy 3 of those cards on Amazon for $150, get $90 back from the rebate, $20 each. And that is for top of the line 20 mb/sec writing! Get yourself some more memory, super cheap, get Lightroom 2.0 (totally worth it), shoot in RAW, quick workflow…you will laugh at JPG and its weakness! 🙂

  18. Robbie Gleason on March 18, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Wow, I can’t believe a shot that blown recovered in RAW! That’s great! I love shooting in RAW – I use Lightroom for not just fixing exposure/white balance (if needed) but also for flagging keepers – it seems to actually save me time!

  19. Amanda on March 18, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I always shoot JPEG, but might reconsider after this! Wow.

  20. Adrianne on March 18, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I was a jpg only girl until I shot RAW. I love the control I get over my pix. Until I know that I will nail the exposure evertime, RAW is it for me. Even when I do, I’ll probably still shoot it since I just love to have such control over my pix. Love the blueprints, Jodi. TFS, Michele.

  21. Tiffany on March 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Great save! I’m a RAW shooter when it comes to portraits and such. I know it’s extra work and most times I don’t need the safety net of RAW but I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. For snapshots and such, I shoot JPEG. I’m ok with minor issues on those when they’re just for me to see and smile.

  22. Mary on March 18, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Now that I have made the switch to RAW, I’ll never go back! It’s a great goof saver! Bought a small, compact external hard drive to store the files so I haven’t bogged down my regular system. Jodi—–LOVE your new ideas! You’re the best!

  23. Cindy on March 18, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    holy cow! that is some save. i just started shooting in RAW. i always seem to mess up the white balance when i am shooting. shooting in RAW saves me!

  24. Melissa on March 18, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I sometimes shoot in RAW but not all the time. With my new Canon 5D the images are so big (21 megapixels) + shooting RAW it really eats up a memory card. I know I just need to buy additional larger memory cards. Jodi – I have opened RAW images before in PS but I thought I read that RAW images from the 5D can’t be openend in PS. I don’t have Lightroom yet. No time to learn another program right now unfortunately.

  25. Catherine on March 18, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Amazing! I always shoot in RAW. I have not mastered lighting yet so it allows me to adjust for the mistakes I make in manual mode.

  26. Teri Fitzgerald on March 18, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Michele sent this before and after picture to me before the curves workshop and then then the post production shot afterward…. I am STILL in awe at this save…. I would have never thought in a million years that this photo could be even remotely saved. AMAZING!!! Just AMAZING!

  27. Kylie on March 19, 2009 at 5:16 am

    When you say, that you edited the photo in RAW, do you mean in camera raw? in photoshop or that the photo was taken in raw format in the first place?thxKylie

  28. Michelle H on March 19, 2009 at 2:55 am

    I’m a JPEG girl… but mainly because I don’t know what the heck to do with the RAW pictures if I shoot in RAW! I always hear things like, “I outsource my RAW workflow.” but I don’t even know what a RAW workflow is.

  29. Jodi on March 19, 2009 at 7:36 am

    By Raw – you can edit in Lightroom, Aperture, Adobe Camera Raw or any other Raw Converter (likes ones specific to your camera).

  30. Jeannette Chirinos Gold on March 19, 2009 at 8:17 am

    wow, amazing job that Michelle hs done with the picture!I do shoot in RAW, will try to keep all those file, you never know 😉

  31. Carli on March 20, 2009 at 11:48 am

    I always shoot in RAW. I feel like it creates a better quality picture if you edit the raw file first and then save it as a high quality JPEG even if the editing is as small as upping the contrast a little. I use Adobe CS3 to edit my raw files. I had to download a plugin for it I think, but I also feel like its SO much easier to do the basics with the RAW editor because of the way it opens the files.

  32. Lindsie on March 20, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    After this post I’m ashamed to admit that I still shoot in JPEG. I actually did a photo shoot about a month ago and did it all in RAW. Then when I went to do the editing I was completely confused and ended up hating the process. I couldn’t even figure out how to view the picture on my computer. I totally believe you that RAW is better but I just need to learn more. Jodi- maybe a future post could be about learning to use RAW after the picture has been taken. Just a suggestion for us dummies…

  33. Tom on March 23, 2009 at 6:54 am

    I was raw shooter before.I think in the past raw is more flexible than jpeg, so I always use raw format. Today I almost shot with jpeg only. I think in new model digital camera,it produce more quality picture, more accurate white balance. So jpeg have enough quality. And all manufacturer spend million dollars to develop jpeg so why not we use it.

  34. Caroline Telfer on April 20, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Always shoot in RAW and download and adjust in Lightroom 3. Then final edit if needed in PS5. This workflow has made a huge difference to my productivity.

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