FastRawViewer Developers Blog

Lightroom, XMP, Windows, and Removable Storage

As Adobe Lightroom Windows users know, this application has been oppressive for users of removable media (disk drives, flash cards), imposing some limitations that puts image culling applications that produce XMP files (including FastRawViewer) in a bit of a bind. It's impossible to cull/rate/label files right on a flash card - they first need to be copied onto a local disk, XMPed, and then imported into Lightroom from there.

Aside from problems with flash cards, the same happens with removable USB disk drives. If Lightroom detects the disk as being removable, it wil neither read nor write XMP files from or to that location.

Since we're a bit overwhelmed with the questions regarding this problem, and the answer "that's just Lightroom" is both overly repetitive and not very satisfactory, we suggest the following lifehack.

One Way to Get Spot-On Exposure for Your Shots

Practically every day, one can see threads on photographic forums where members discuss the various different modes of automatic exposure, trying to find the right one. As a rule, these discussions result in the same question – what compensation to automatic metering ought one set to get consistently good exposure? It turns out that no autoexposure mode universally guarantees good out-of-box results.

We are going to demonstrate that one of the ways of getting good exposure is metering while using the in-camera spotmeter on the lightest part of the scene that needs to maintain full detail (white clouds, snow, etc.) and applying the appropriate compensation to the exposure recommended by the spotmeter.

The shot taken with  spotmeter exposure and +3 EV in-camera correction, opened and adjusted in FastRawViewer

Can you Evaluate Exposure Using the In-camera Histogram?

They say that "a histogram is a graphical representation of the pixels exposed in your image" or "when judging exposure, the primary areas of the histogram to be concerned with are the right and left edges".

We are going to demonstrate the following:

  • In-camera histograms don't really allow one to analyze the shadows and highlights zones of an image.
  • An in-camera histogram changes significantly with changes in the camera settings such as contrast, picture style, brightness, etc.

So, no. By no means can the in-camera histogram be used by a RAW shooter to evaluate exposure.

shot 2649 with and without WB

Do Not Let White Balance Throw You Off-Balance

White balance: does it or does it not affect RAW image data at all? Certainly it affects JPEG, but how and why?

We are going to demonstrate that setting the white balance in a camera has no effect on "normal" RAW data.

To do so, we took four shots under the same, fairly constant, light, varying only the white balance (WB) settings in the camera (and the number of roasted coffee beans on the skillet handle). You will see the "as shot" color differs dramatically between the shots, yet the RAW histograms of these shots are, for all practical purposes, will stay the same.

You can repeat this simple experiment yourself, and also check that changing the white balance setting does not affect the in-camera exposure metering readings.

White balance as channel exposure correction

How to Trash a Good Shot in One Step...

Not sure how? It really is very simple - just rely on the JPEG histogram. The one on the back of your camera will do, or one derived from a JPEG by some viewer, or (sometimes) even by a RAW converter.

Many strongly colored objects - yellow, red, blue, pink, orange, purple, etc. are suffering from culling based on JPEG histograms.

FastRawViewer is the only culling tool that displays the true RAW histogram, which allows you to determine if the shot was exposed correctly.

So, if you don't want to trade your (technically) best shots for worse ones, start using RAW histograms for culling!

Yellow daffodils. RAW and RAW histogram

Color is a Slippery Trickster

Origina ARW from SONY a6500: embedded JPEG vs. render using correct camera profile

“How do you know, when you think blue — when you say blue — that you are talking about the same blue as anyone else?"

Christopher Moore, Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art

The goals of this article are twofold: the first is to demonstrate that out-of-camera JPEGs, including in-camera previews, can’t be implicitly, with no checking, used to evaluate color (as we already know, the in-camera histogram is misleading, too). The second is to show that it isn’t necessary that the camera manufacturer-recommended converter be specifically tuned to match the out-of-camera JPEG.

When In Doubt, Bracket!

Golden Tree. Exposure Bracketing

On any photographic forum, it doesn't take much effort to find old or new discussions on how to set the “proper” exposure while shooting, and even what exactly “proper exposure” is. The question of setting exposure was and is one of the most commonly-discussed topics on forums and blogs

Often, an experienced professional photographer will, upon hearing the question of how one should choose exposure while shooting, respond that you should “Bracket your shots when the lighting conditions are complex. Or, even better, bracket all of your shots. I do it all the time.” That’s because problems with exposure are not something that only a novice can encounter.

Color Differences Between Cameras

RawDigger. Placing a Grid

Quite often, when a new camera emerges on the market one heavily-discussed subject is if the color it records is the same, better, or worse compared to a previous model. It often happens that the color is compared based on the rendering that some RAW converter provides. Thus, an unknown variable, that being the color profiles or transforms that a RAW converter uses for these particular models, comes into play. Yet another problem with such comparisons is that they are usually made based on shots taken with different lenses, under different light, and with effectively different exposures in RAW (while the exposure settings may be the same).

Let's see how cameras compare in RAW if the set-up is kept very close to the same and the exposure in RAW is equalized.

DIY Reliable, Cheap, Easy-to Use Universal White Balance Reference

Libraw White Balance Reference DIY Project

DIY projects are always popular, so we’ve decided to throw another one into the mix. This particular little idea comes from a problem that many photographers have – where do you get a good, small, white/gray surface to use for white balancing your RAW shots in conversion?

We’re proposing a solution that will save you time and money, as well as make you feel good for not buying into some inefficient, overpriced product of limited usability.

So, welcome to LibRaw’s Wacky Cheap 5-Dollar DIY White Balance Reference Project.

The Three Most Obvious Reasons to Look at RAW and Not Cull Based On Previews

"...Really, why do you even want to look at RAW files? The whole point of RAW is to be processed according to your taste into a JPEG. I never look at RAW files; I never need to. They are loaded into LR, processed, and I look at the processed images.”

FastRawViewer. Pink azaleas. JPEG prevew vs RAW

Why do you want, or, as a matter of fact, not just want but need to look at RAW and not some previews rendered in some arcane manner when you’re choosing RAW files for conversion or presentation? Why, in fact, shouldn’t you trust neither embedded nor rendered JPEGs/previews, nor the preview / histogram on the back of your camera, for that matter?

We will both answer these questions, and illustrate the massive disconnect between a preview and real RAW data.

Unfortunately, photographers are throwing away perfectly good captures while keeping captures that are sub-optimal, because they are not being provided with the facts about the RAW. We are going to demonstrate why they need to examine actual RAW data before making any decisions about which captures to keep or consider editing.

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