Wildlife photography — an unhelpful guide
In page 2 we learned about, umm … well … let me get back to you on that one …
Smile for the camera: The damselfly in this shot has seen better days
Raw vs JPG
I’m a nature photographer who shoots RAW. Now, this shouldn’t be confused with being a naturist photographer who shoots in the raw because that’s a very different genre and this is not that kind of website. So what do I mean by the term RAW?
RAW means your image files are delivered straight from your camera, without your camera first making a whole bunch of choices for you about how it thinks you want them.
And I’m here to tell you that RAW is your friend. If you have the option and are prepared to do a tiny bit more work (and have a RAW converter program) then RAW will allow you the kind of flexibility which often means the difference between a reject shot and a keeper.
I badly underexposed this shot of a Superb Fairy-wren (above left) but because I’d taken it in RAW mode, I had the option of cranking up the exposure later (above right). Working in JPG mode swouldn’t have let me do that, and I would have had to see what I could salvage from the shot in Photoshop.
For example, in RAW mode the exposure is still not competely locked in yet and so you still have the opportunity to crank it up or down a stop or two without all that much loss of quality. But that’s not all you can do in RAW mode. Colour temperature, noise levels, sharpness and a lot of other things which normally get decided for you before being written into a JPG file are left waiting for you to adjust, according to how you want them. Pure heaven for control freaks. And if you muck things up working on your RAW file, the original RAW file is sitting unblemished on your hard drive, ready for you to muck things up again.
These days, every new compact digital camera seems to use face detection. Face detection is supposed to find faces in your scene, to make sure you get the right shot. I can see the logic in it, but speaking as a wildlife photographer, I’m not so sure about it.
Above: A flock of pelicans, and below: with face detection
GREAT MOMENTS IN NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY: No. 3: Indian Mynah