Street Photography Tips – RAW vs JPG
Perhaps the biggest debate in the world of digital photography continues to be RAW vs JPG. The big difference between the two is that with JPG the processing is done in camera. While RAW processing takes place after the fact and with software on a computer. Both come with advantages and disadvantages.
I’ve been shooting RAW for almost 10 years now and I swear by it. A RAW file can be compared to a negative in film photography. When you process a RAW file a JPG is created leaving the RAW file in its original state. Processing is an entirely different activity and it has its own learning curves just like processing and printing in film photography. I don’t find processing difficult and maybe that’s because I’ve been doing it for so long. But when you shoot RAW you don’t have to worry about messing up your negative. (I will talk about processing in a later issue.) As I learn new processing tricks, I can go back and reprocess older photos.
I do actually shoot JPG from time to time for various reasons. Recently I’ve been in the mood to shoot square again. Yes, I can crop square after the fact. But that changes the composition. Shooting square means composing square and in my cameras it also means shooting JPG.
The above photo was composed and shot square as a JPG. But I didn’t give up shooting RAW to do it! I decided to try something new! I’m shooting RAW + JPG simultaneously. I didn’t do any post-processing to the photo. While I am often happy with the results of the in camera processing, it doesn’t give me the option to later process as black and white without data loss. Shooting both RAW + JPG is an experiment for me at the moment. So I haven’t made a decision about the results yet or how long I will continue to do so. If I forget, ask me how I like shooting in both formats.
If you’re not ready to get into processing your photos, but you think that maybe you will in the future, it’s a good thing to shoot both. If you’d rather shoot just JPG you can save your original photo and only process a copy of the photo.
The thing about RAW vs JPG is that RAW files contain more information. They capture more of the raw data that the sensor records. As well. it means that you can also print your photos larger if that’s a consideration. Yes, RAW files take up a lot more space on your hard drive. But hard drive prices have been coming down and I think that it’s worth it to have a negative of my photos.
From Issue 38 of the Shoot New York City Newsletter. You can subscribe here
Street Photography Tips – Camera Choice
“A lot of photographers think that if they buy a better camera they’ll be able to take better photographs. A better camera won’t do a thing for you if you don’t have anything in your head or in your heart.” – Arnold Newman
Let’s start from the beginning. The first thing in street photography is your camera. The first thing in any kind of photography is your camera! It’s your tool. You take the photo. Not the camera. Any camera that you are comfortable using is a good choice. I used to use big DSLRs to shoot street photography and they worked really well for me. Many people on my workshops and photo tours shoot with full frame top of the line cameras. Whatever works for you is the best choice. Some people are uncomfortable shooting street photography in general and that is compounded using a larger camera.
My choice to switch to mirrorless cameras is in part because DSLRs became too heavy for me. I don’t mention mobile phone photography because quite frankly I can barely use the camera on my phone and I never like the results. I also don’t plan on getting better at that. That’s not my style. There are people who do some very nice work with mobile phone cameras. Does that make everyone a photographer? In a future issue I will discuss that!
Oh, but film cameras are also very cool and I do still shoot film from time to time. Shooting film is fabulous as it really changes the way that you see things and it really provides perspective on how you shoot with a digital camera. In general, you’re likely to take fewer photos when shooting with a film camera. You have to rely on your mind more than just eye candy. Typically people are more discriminating when shooting with film cameras.
Many decisions go into the choice of camera. They are always personal and not about brand name or cost. How much money you spend on a camera does not guarantee the kind of results that you will get in your photography. People are often made to believe that the more money you spend, the better the photo. Nothing could be farther from the truth. All cameras have limitations. Some are better for certain kinds of photography than others. When it comes to street photography just about any kind of camera works. That said, you may eventually outgrow your camera. If you’re shooting weddings and portraits you may find that the range of cameras gets narrowed down a bit.
Start by becoming comfortable with your camera. Get to the point where your camera is working for you and where you can have a reasonable expectation of getting the desired results. All digital cameras have far more functions than most people will use. Once you become comfortable with your camera you may want to experiment with some of those mysterious other functions in your camera. Happy shooting!
From Issue 35 of the Shoot New York City Newsletter. You can subscribe