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1.3 Why Use RAW and RawTherapee

In this lesson you will learn the advantages of working in RAW, and how to do that using RawTherapee. Then we will open our first file in RawTherapee and briefly get familiar with the interface.

1.3 Why Use RAW and RawTherapee

In this lesson, we'll discuss the advantages of working in RAW. Then, we'll open our first file in RAW Therapee and briefly get familiar with the interface. So let's talk about what RAW capture is and why is it valuable to you as a photographer? So why is shooting in RAW important? How does it work? And how is it beneficial? When you set your camera settings and take a photo, the image is created on your camera sensor. The information is recorded as RAW, and you can fine tune settings like the white balance, exposure, and contrast later instead of relying on your camera to set them for you. This gives you increased flexibility when editing your images later. However, because your computer can't display a RAW photo correctly it has to be converted into a format that you can work with. You control the processing and no detail is lost from the image because you're working with an uncompressed file. So in a nutshell, with RAW photo capture you're getting the unprocessed, raw data directly from your camera's sensor that you can adjust later. In comparison, when you shoot JPEGs your camera handles much of the processing itself. It also compresses the image which causes you to lose some vital information. The camera's processor will adjust settings like the white balance, brightness, contrast, sharpening, and saturation for you. Which limits what you can do with the image later. With RAW you get greater control of your processing. You're able to fix a wider range of problems with your images and therefore, produce higher quality photos. And when you make corrective adjustments to a RAW file, these edits are non-destructive because you're not actually changing the original image data. You're only saving a set of instructions for how it should be saved upon conversion to another file format. However, there are important details you'll need to keep in mind when shooting in RAW. RAW files can be more than twice the size of the typical JPEG. So you won't be able to fit as many on your memory card while out in the field shooting. There is also the possibility that it could slow your camera down. Needless to say, you'll have to buy additional storage space for your files. Keep in mind that the RAW image editing capabilities of RAW therapy can be paired up with any roster editing software of your choice for a cost effective alternative to light room. So let's open our first file in RAW Therapee and briefly get familiar with the interface. You should already be inside of the program and if you're not, you can go ahead and open it now. And you'll notice that we don't have any images here. And this is because we haven't told the program the location of the photos that we'll be using. So when the left hand panel towards the bottom, you can go ahead and locate where you save the photos for this course on your computer. Once you found the folder with the course files, RAW Therapee will display thumbnails of the images in that folder. In looking on the left hand side, you'll notice that we have three tabs. We're currently in the File Browser tab where we located out photos. And looking at our photos, take note that hovering over the buttons will show you tool tips explaining what the buttons do. Next we have our Que tab. This is where you process and export your files. And finally, we have our Editor tab which is where we'll do most of the editing of our files. Back in the file browser tab we'll go ahead and double click this image. Doing so takes us to the Editor tab and opens the image so that we can see it in greater detail. We'll end up staying in this tab for most of the course. Let's take a look around. The top panel in the center is called the film strip and shows you the contents of your folder. It can be hidden by clicking the button in the bottom right corner of the panel and can be shown again by clicking the same button. Above each individual photo, they give you various tools to rate your images. And so you see here that we have five stars in order to rate each image. You can also give it a color label. And finally, you can move it to the trash if you so choose. And below the film strip, we also have additional tools. You have the option to show or hide the left panel, which includes the history on the side. You also have a button that displays the information on the image. And so clicking it will either hide or show you the information for the image. We'll go ahead and click it to hide the information so as not to be distracting as we're editing the image. And this button here allows you to toggle the before and after view, as you're working. And beyond that, you have a host of other editing tools, some of which we'll explore in this course. There are also zoom shortcuts to make working with your photo easier. Here along the bottom of the center module you have your zoom tools. The magnifying glass with the minus sign is your zoom out tool, and with the plus sign is your zoom in tool, however, the keyboard shortcuts make it much easier. And so the minus sign on your keyboard allows you to zoom out. And hitting the plus sign on your keyboard allows you to zoom into your image. When you're zoomed into your image, selecting the hand tool allows you to move around. You also have your navigator on the left hand side which also allows you to move around your image. Back underneath your center images, clicking the one to one magnifying tool zooms you to 100% in your image. This will come in handy later in the course. For now, we'll zoom out and leave it at around 8% so we can see entire image. Let's take a look at the left hand panel here. You have your histogram in the upper left hand corner and below that as I mentioned we have your navigator. Directly below your navigator is your history panel. As we make changes to our images the history of the steps that we take will be listed here. And if you wanted to take a snapshot of a particular step. You would do that in this bottom panel with this simple add button. And if you wanted to delete any at any time, you would click delete. On the right-hand side, we have our main list of editing tools, made up mainly of these seven tabs. We have the exposure tab, the detail tab, the color tab, the wavelet tab, the transform tab, the raw tab, and the meta data tab. We'll get into a handful of these later in the course. I'd like to point out that you can set your preferences which can be found by clicking the button in the very bottom left hand corner. We'll go ahead and click that. Within the preferences, take note that you can change the mode that you're working in, underneath the layout. Although, they would require you to restart the program. Clicking this first dropdown menu allows you to adjust the layout mode as you're working. We're currently in the single editor tab mode with vertical tabs. And we'll leave it the way it is. You also have a host of other options that allow you to fine tune your workflow as you're working. In single editor tab mode, you're working only on one photo at a time, and each photo's opened in the same editor tag. In this mode, you have a film strip at the top of the editor showing the photos in the folder. In the multiple editor modes, each photo is opened in its own editor tab. The film strip is hidden in this mode. Having multiple images opened at the same time does require more RAM. Just to keep that in mind. For this course we'll leave it on the single editor tab mode with the vertical tabs. And we'll go ahead and select cancel for now. And finally, I'd like to point out that using the button in the bottom left-hand corner just above the preferences button allows you to change RAW Therapee to full-screen. We'll go ahead and select that now, and this gives us a view that is distraction free from our desktop. And so we're now within full screen mode in the editor tab. That brings us to the end of this lesson. In this lesson we discuss the advantages of working in RAW. We also opened our first file in Raw Therapee and became more familiar with the workspace. That also brings us to the end of this chapter. In this chapter, we discussed what we'll be covering in this course. And we also acquired what we'll need for this course. In the next chapter, we'll neutralize and make corrective adjustments to our images.

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