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Join photographer and author Chris Orwig in Photoshop Lightroom 4 Essentials: Organizing and Sharing with the Library Module, as he explores the interface of this popular image-management program and shows how to use its Library module to organize and manage a photo library. The course covers importing both still images and video; shooting in tethered-capture mode; organizing and rating images with flags, stars, labels, and location tags; and working with collections. The course also details how to export, email, and share photos, and introduces the Lightroom 4 video-editing features, as well as its ability to work together with the full editing power of Photoshop. Exercise files are included with the course.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding Lightroom and how Lightroom is this tool that we can use in order to RAW process our photographs. There is also a lot of excitement about how we can capture RAW images when we're using digital cameras. Yet sometimes, all of this excitement, it can be a little bit confusing. It can be a little bit hard to differentiate between the hype and also the legitimate excitement. And on top of that, when we are working in RAW, we have these different file formats, and so what I want to do here is take a couple of minutes just to deconstruct things and I want to do this for a couple of reasons.
First off, so that we have a good working understanding of these issues; and second, so that we can start to understand what it means to work with digital negative files. Okay, let's step back for a second and let's start at the beginning. Really, if we go the beginning, there are two different things we talk about when we're talking about RAW. The first is RAW Capture. That's images that we capture with our cameras. We can set our cameras to capture images at a certain format. The other topic is RAW Processing. Now this has to do with software whether we're using Adobe Camera RAW or we're using Lightroom.
So if we go to RAW Capture for a second, what happens is, if we have our camera set to JPEG, well, it captures the image and then it goes through this whole process and then generates a JPEG. In other words, we've lost some of the data. On the other hand, if we shoot in RAW, we get the image just straight off the sensor. And because of this there, again, is a lot of this excitement about RAW and you may have heard the comments saying that you should always shoot in the RAW but you shouldn't shoot in the buff, because you might get arrested. RAW captures really great because again we just have all of this data to work with, all of the information straight off the sensor without anything interpreting it or messing it up or modifying it. All right! Well, what then about RAW Processing? Well, RAW Processing is all about taking data and then it's about applying some sort of set of instructions to that data.
Now what's interesting about these instructions is they're just little lines of text. They say I want this data be interpreted in this particular way. When it comes to Lightroom, what happens is all of those instructions are put inside of the catalog and the catalog has all of this information. Now that information, or those instructions, they allow us to display the actual pictures in a different way, like this image here. And what's great about this is we can be flexible. We can change our mind, display the image this way or display the image this way.
Now when we're working with RAW Processing, we can work with all different types of file formats, whether RAW files from the camera, DNG, PSD, TIFF, JPEG, movie files and on and on. So what's interesting about RAW Processing is it's nondestructive. In other words, we can always change these little instructions. This gives us flexibility and speed. There's no need to save the file in the traditional sense, because again, all of our work, all of our processing, well, it's already just saved by default in these little instruction files.
And ultimately, this helps us to be more creative, because we can quickly process our images in different ways. This added flexibility really helps us create more compelling photographs. All right! Well, let's jump back to a topic I just mentioned which has to do with this file format issue. As I mentioned, in Lightroom we can RAW process RAW files, PSD, JPEG, TIFF, movie files, DNG files, but a lot of the hype and a lot of the excitement is surrounding this whole concept of the DNG file.
Now why is that and what is that? What is the DNG? Well, the DNG file is something that Adobe came up with. It stands for Digital Negative. And there are some really clear-cut benefits for using this file format. Let me walk you through those. For starters, if you have a DNG file, by default, the DNG format has what's called lossless compression. In other words, it has a smaller file size without losing any information. And in a sense what the DNG file format is it's kind of like a container.
You can see this box around this image here. It's almost like that box which then holds the image inside of it and that box helps us create a little bit of a smaller file size. You can also now change this to Lossy compression. We'll talk a little bit more about that in one of the subsequent movies. This allows us to create a smaller file size and lose information, but some argue that this is better than, say, JPEG compression. So again, there's flexibility. Of course, we'll need to deconstruct these two issues a little bit more, but for now just know that by default, it's lossless.
What that means is lots of great information, smaller file size, and for me, I am all about that. The next thing to consider is this. We can now turn on this option which is called Fast Load. What Fast Load allows us to do in Lightroom is to view and work with these files up to eight times faster in the Develop module. Now this extra added bit of speed, again, is something that's really welcomed. Smaller file size, work more quickly, it's kind of a no-brainer, right? The other advantage is that there aren't sidecar XMP files.
Let me jump to another slide to explain this. If we're working with a DNG file, there isn't another file associated with it. Even if we're saving the metadata to that file, it's all inside of that container. On the other hand, if we have a RAW file, like this one here, or a JPEG or a TIFF or whatever it is, well, it's going to need to have some sort of a sidecar file. The sidecar file will be the set of instructions. These are two separate or distinct files versus with DNG, well, there aren't any sidecar files at all.
Then the last issue is of archival confidence. A number of Lightroom users use the DNG format simply because of this. This format is open source, meaning anyone can access the information about it, and ideally, the hope is that this will have more archival relevance. In other words, let's say, you shoot with a particular camera in a certain RAW format and all of a sudden, that camera company stops supporting that format or maybe goes out of business or who knows what. Well, then you could run into problems in the future.
The DNG format on the other hand, well, it's supported by Adobe and it's open source. So that information about the format, well, it can never be lost. It's already out there and anyone can learn how to access that. So in other words, people use this DNG format and the hope is that this will be an archival type of a format. So again in my own workflow, I've adopted this DNG format completely because of these different reasons; file size, speed, no other need for sidecar files, and also for confidence of being able to access and work with these files in the future.
Now in your own workflow, you're going to need to make the decision about what file format works best for you. Yet my hope with this movie is that it gives you a little bit of information. For starters, it helps you kind of understand some of the issues surrounding this whole idea of RAW Processing and RAW Capture. It also helps you start to see about some of the benefits of DNG and why you may want to consider using that format. All right! Well, I hope that this movie has been helpful and now that we have a little bit of a working understanding of RAW and also of DNG, what I want to do in the next couple of movies is take a look at a couple of examples of how we can work with this DNG format inside of Lightroom.
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