Recently I’ve been asked by some clients for my original camera RAW files. Some of these clients only want to receive the camera RAW files while others want them in addition to other formats. The request for these files has become a hot issue for professional photographers. Below are a few reasons why photographers are reluctant to provide RAW files.
First, a little background. What exactly is a RAW file (not to be confused with Adobe Camera Raw)? A RAW file is the file that comes directly from the camera without any type of adjustment. Each camera sensor is made of individual points called pixels. The total number of pixels on the sensor is measured in megapixels. One megapixel is one million pixels or points on the sensor. A 24 meg camera would have 24,000,000 pixels. Each camera manufacturer has its own proprietary format. Pixels only measure the amount of light at a point in the image. Pixels don’t see color, only measuring the relative light or dark in the scene. Each pixel has a filter of red, green or blue over it in order to measure the respective color. Together RGB makes daylight or white light: all the colors we can see. The image shown on the camera back is actually a JPEG image, which has been adjusted or processed by the camera.
So why don’t professional photographers want to give away their RAW files? The first reason is that even if the client has Photoshop or Lightroom it takes a skilled and experienced user to handle the files properly. This is similar to architects who are reluctant to giving away their CAD or Revit files.
Second, is the importance of what the photographer does in post-processing. The initial capture is only the first step in creating a final image. The photographer’s skill and experience during post-processing is as important as the initial capture. Post-processing is a multi-step procedure in which each step builds upon the previous to create the vision of the photographer. When consumer cameras capture an image the camera automatically makes assumptions about the scene and image before it is displayed on the camera back. This is why consumer cameras have settings for snow, beach, mountains, people etc. It helps the camera decide how to process the image. Using the RAW format all adjustments are in the hands of the photographer. Photographers typically only want to release a final product that is consistent with their brand, vision and style.
To illustrate, below are three images of a scene taken for a recent client. The first is the RAW file just as it came from the camera. The second image is what was sent to the client after post-processing. The client wanted a ‘normal’ scene with good highlight and shadow detail because it was to be used it in scouting movie, TV and other film production locations. The third is another possible interpretation of the scene taking the post-processing even further. Which is the correct or most authentic to the scene? All of them. It all depends on the vision of the photographer and purpose of the image.
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Many developers think of historic preservation as at odds to new construction. Well meaning groups standing in the way of progress and their business. This is not always the case. As many cities and local government entities realize the value of historic properties not everything is worthy of saving. Just because it’s old doesn’t make it historic. The property in question has to have some historic, political, social or architectural significance. The above property in Bradbury is one such example. The developer purchased the approximate 4.5 acre parcel from the long time owners with the intend to raze the existing structures, sub-divide into 3 lots and build new homes compatible with the neighborhood. A cultural resource consultant determined it did not qualify as significant. The original home was cut in half and moved to the lot next door to create a new home. What remained was greatly altered and those alterations can be seen from the exterior and from within. When the developer removed the vegetation and brush in order to reduce vandalism and squatters, passerby’s could now clearly see the home from the street. Inquiries started to come to the City Offices. People wanted to know what was going to happen to the home and barn (garage). They explained that too little of the original building fabric existed and it had little historic or architectural value and would be razed. The City did, however, require of the developer that a “HABS like” study be completed before the demolition permit would be issued. The developer chose this mitigation over allowing tours of the property due to safety and insurance concerns.
A true HABS documentation would consist of a written report, measure drawings on Mylar and large format, black and white photography. Because the report was local and not to be archived in the Library of Congress, the City required only the photography portion of the report. The developer contracted with an architectural salvage company to harvest the re-usable fixtures and architectural elements which offset the cost of the HABS documentation. The City will increase its tax base and eliminate a public nuisance of vandals and vagrants. The full report will be archived with a public library or preservation group so that generations to come will be able to view the history of the area. The developer will also share the report with their architects to gather design cues such as the columns and Palladio windows. The full report can be viewed here.
The Society of Architectural Historians, SAH.org, held its 2016 Annual International Conference at the Pasadena Convention Center earlier this month. Academics and professionals from around the world convened in Pasadena to share new research on the history of the built environment. In addition to the conference’s 42 paper sessions, SAH presented 18 guided architectural tours of the Pasadena/Los Angeles region as well as a seminar that examined SurveyLA, Los Angeles’ city-wide historic resources program developed by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the City of Los Angeles. The SAH-Getty International Program as well as the SAH Opening Social Hour was held at the Pasadena Convention Center on Friday night. Images from these events can be found here. Dennis Hill volunteered his time providing images and assembling the Welcome Bags given to each attendee.
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Eugene Heck, M.A. of LSA Associates, Inc. prepared this HAER type report for the California Incline Bridge project prior to its reconstruction. Dennis Hill worked for 4 days on-site creating both the black and white as well as some of the color digital images as noted. An Index of Photos and Photo Key accompanied his images. All of the B&W images were created using a 4″x 5″ view camera and traditional B&W film. The full report can be viewed here. Dennis has worked on a number of HABS/HAER/HALS projects including San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, Claremont Lemon Packing House, Oaklawn Bridge and Ambassador College, some of which are archived at the HABS/HAER/HALS Collection Library of Congress.
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Pasadena Heritage, a leader in community preservation, held its Annual Meeting at the recently partially restored Exhibition Hall which is part of the Pasadena Convention Center. Originally designed as a multipurpose room, it hosted live music and dancing during the 1930’s – 1950’s, many, of which were broadcasted on the radio. More recently it was skating rink.
Pasadena Heritage gave thanks to its outgoing Board members and elected new ones. They also discussed past and future events as well as their finances.
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Pasadena Heritage Craftsman Weekend Exhibition, Show & Sale
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Myron Hunt Reception
Pasadena Heritage Craftsman Weekend
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Ah, new technology, don’t you just love it? It’s not the age of Aquarius nor is it your father’s world. Today we live, breath and work via email, texting & Facebook. This new world order lead me to find Thumbtack.com.
I say if you can’t beat them, join them so I did. Thumbtack made it very easy to sign up and their user experience is just great. They have been able to answer all of my questions but the best thing they did was to get an existing customer to give me a call in order to answer my questions and tell me about his experience with Thumbtack.