I Heart RAW

Last night my baby graduated from pre kindergarten.  I kind of thought the whole thing was a little silly.  Until I saw my baby boy walking down the aisle to pomp and circumstance in a cap and gown.  And that is when I lost it.  He was so confident and excited.  He had the biggest smile on his face as he spotted us in the crowd and waved.  And I know he was looking to see if I was crying because he’s been telling me that I would need tissue ever since they began graduation practice.

His graduation was in his school’s chapel.  There is bad fluorescent lighting and the only natural light comes from a stained glass window.  I opted not to bring my flash because it just would have been obnoxious and we were all sitting so close together I didn’t want to blind someone.  So yucky fluorescent / stained glass light it was.  In situations like that I am so thankful to be able to shoot in RAW.

With your DSLR camera you have the option to shoot in JPEG or RAW (or you can shoot in both with some cameras).  A JPEG is an image straight out of camera.  You don’t have to do anything further to process it if you don’t want to.  A RAW file is not an image… yet.  You computer, rather than your camera, will have to process it to become an image.  The downside to shooting RAW is that the files are much bigger (on your card and your computer) and that you do actually have to do some sort of processing to it (although the processing can be very minimal).  The upside is that you will have SO much more control over how your final image looks.  Over and underexposing your images can easily be fixed as well as white balance.  Yes, you can do these things with a JPEG, but because RAW files are so much larger there is more data that can be processed and “fixed”.

This is what the image looked like straight out of camera.  Yuck.  I shot this image with my 5D Mark II and my 70-200 lens from the second row.

F 2.8, 1/125, ISO 1600


I opened the image up in Camera RAW in Photoshop (you can do this in Lightroom too, I just prefer Photoshop).  All that I did was change the white balance to “auto” and all of the other settings to “auto” as well.


You can see when I do this it overexposes the image too much.  So, I simple moved the exposure slider to the left a bit to bring down the exposure.


Pretty good, right?  At least much better than what I started out with.

With another simple color balance adjustment in Photoshop and running one of my own actions to make it pop a bit, here is my final result.



I like enjoying these moments and not worrying about getting the “perfect” shot.  I’m glad I have these pictures, but my memory of this day will always be better than these shots.  At all of his other graduations I will always think back to this one.  His very first graudation.  And I will remember the tastle in front of his face that he wouldn’t move because his teachers told the kids not to play with them.  I will remember how well he said his bible verse and how excited he was to perform.  I will remember the smile on his face when he saw us in the audience.  And I will remember how when I tucked him into bed that night he said to me, “Mom, things are going to change.  I’m a kindergartner now”.


  1. Renae says

    Crying. Such a grown up boy. So glad mine never said anything like that…I wouldn’t be able to stand it!! Love this tip about shooting RAW. I will have to try it!

  2. Sivyu says

    Drew this is an adorable shot! I can’t believe you have a kindergartner now!

  3. Kristi says

    *sigh* Love this.

  4. Abby says

    What a great memory! I’ve never shot in RAW but I’m going to try practice this weekend.

  5. Kristin says

    Can you fix RAW with Photoshop Elements?

  6. Amy L. says

    Great post and awesome timing. My son graduates preK next week. I’m not sure how I will make it through his graduation if I tear up reading about your son’s!

    Good tip on RAW. I don’t have a 70-200 though, so hopefully we get good seats!
    Amy L.´s last blog post ..11 years + Wilmington

  7. Tanya says

    Thank you for this post! Do you have any advice on sRAW vs RAW? I would like to try sRAW to save on card and computer space but still want the freedom to edit RAW. My concern is the quality of the images and if they are good enough to warrant the change.