Double Takes With Rebecca: Baked or Raw?

Did you know a photo is like a cupcake?

If you shoot in jpg, 
which all cameras can do, 
then your finished photo is like a baked cupcake - 
with all the processing decisions being made 
by the camera.

You can ice it, 
 add sprinkles, 
and maybe cut off some burned edges if you need to, 
but you can't go back and adjust 
the ingredients that made the cupcake! 

Your camera is very smart 
and often makes good decisions for you,
but not every time or in every situation. 
Shooting jpg leaves you little latitude later on.

That's where shooting in raw 
comes in.
If your camera has the ability to shoot in raw, 
it will collect all the raw ingredients 
needed for your photo to 
give you the power to 
make adjustments to the recipe 
before baking...or printing in this case. 

All images begin in raw...
it just depends on who 
makes the processing decisions:
you or the camera.

jpg - Your camera decides
raw - You decide

Here is a diagram from a helpful link 
at The Lightroom Lab website:

Most dSLR's will shoot in raw, 
and many point and shoot cameras will as well.
You can check your camera's manual
to learn about its settings. 
Check under image quality options.

Shooting in raw has an upside and downside.

The downside is
your file size will be much larger 
and eat up space on your camera card 
and computer.

The upside is 
your file size will be much larger 
and you have more information 
to work with saved on the card and computer!

So, I consider it a win-win!
You can always buy a larger card if you need to! 

You do not need to feel like you are cheating 
by adjusting your raw photo.
A raw photo comes out unprocessed 
and therefore looks kind of muddy. 
It is expected that you will 
play with the ingredients 
to get a recipe 
that captures what you saw creatively.

You will need software to read a raw image. 
But most photo software including 
Picasa, Photoshop and others 
(including any software that came with your camera)
will read a raw image. 

After processing,
 you can save the image in jpg
and share it with others.

Back in the day of film...
the same thing happened.
A photographer could buy specific types of film 
and use different darkroom techniques 
to get the creative look they desired. 
It was a more difficult process, 
but there was still a creative process involved. 

That being said, 
I do not always shoot in raw.

I shoot in raw when 
being able to correct white balance 
or exposure is important.
When someone pays for portraiture I shoot raw. 

When I am taking snapshots, fun shots, 
or rapid shots I use jpg.
I shoot my son's soccer games in large jpg.

If you don't shoot in raw...
at least shoot in the largest file size you can 
(shown below.)
A large file size collects more pixels 
and will give you a better looking photo, 
especially if you plan to enlarge it. 

Happy Shooting! 


  1. my comment here is, unless you are a cook and can bake a decent cupcake, you are better off letting the camera bake for you. if i messed with a photo in Raw it would look just like my cupcakes, burnt to a crisp, lopsided. Raw is for people who know what they are doing, and that would not be me.

  2. Thanks for this piece. I'd forgotten I could shoot Raw. Sometimes it's fun to play. I'm going to give it a try. Sometimes jpeg leaves me so few options and the colors aren't true. That really bothers me.

  3. Thank you for this VERY informative post. I always wondered what RAW was and you have explained it in language I really understand...Cupcakes.

  4. I too shoot in raw and liked your comment that it is NOT cheating. Photographers - the really good ones - have always played with their photos. Before digital, they did it in the darkrooms. Now we do it on our computers.

  5. great info Rebecca! learn by doing, I need to start doing!

  6. Great post and info. thanks for sharing.
    Your blog is great so I have given you a lovely blog award. Please pick it up at
    enjoy your day.


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