RAW rocks

Let me go ahead and throw a disclaimer out there: I am not a professional (or even a properly educated) photographer.  I've never taken a photography class, or even read a photography book.  I've just taken a lot of photos with my trusty Rebel and learned a bit along the way.

That said, sometimes I choose to learn things the hard way.  Sometimes (often, actually) I choose to ignore perfectly good advice from others who know much more than I.  So after seeing on many photo blogs and in many tutorials about how important it is to shoot in RAW, I of course ignored it completely and kept right on taking JPEGs.  And dealing with dark, orangey, or over-exposed photos.

I'm not out to write a tutorial for shooting or editing in RAW, as there are plenty out there already written by more knowledgeable people than me, I'm just hoping maybe I can convince y'all that shooting in RAW is the way to go.  And maybe I can save you from the awful JPEG photos I dealt with.  

So here goes.  

The lighting in our house is not so great.  We have lots of trees, which I love, but it really cuts down on the natural light we receive.  So anytime (every time!)  I take photos indoors, this is what I tend to get:
Now, I did exaggerate a bit here so I can show you how wonderful RAW images are, but you get the idea.  Too dark, too orangey (white balance is wrong).  If I adjusted the shutter speed to compensate for the lack of light, I ended up with blurry images (especially when shooting the kids).

Later, I would try to edit the photo by adjusting the levels:

Or the brightness:

And then the saturation and hue:
And this was about as good as I could get when I started with such a dark image.  (Like I said, I did exaggerate a bit, but the end result is not good!)

BUT if I took the exact same image in RAW and opened it in the RAW editor, I could adjust a few sliders (exposure, and clarity) and change the white balance (which was the major problem with the original photo besides the darkness) to auto, and get this:
I haven't done anything else to this photo yet, I've only made those few adjustments with the RAW editor.  And by the way, I'm not using super expensive editing software.  My $50 copy of Photoshop Elements has a RAW editor built in.  And being able to salvage photos of my kids is definitely worth that.

If you are convinced and want to start shooting in RAW, but don't know where to start, here are some wonderful resources:
What is RAW, anyway?
RAW for beginners
For a little more advanced editing

That's just to get you started - there are tons more out there.  Happy shooting!
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