I do almost all of my processing in my RAW converter (Lightroom), trying to squeeze everything I can out of my shots without resorting to Photoshop. I typically do my printing and jpeg conversion straight from my RAW developoment. The very cool fact is that, over the past couple of years, Raw processors have developed capabilities to do so many things that can make our photos "all that they can be" and we have less and less need to resort to "pixel editing".
I know a lot of us do this as well, and I'm starting this thread as a RAW conversion show-and-tell. No Photoshop-type manipulations allowed, please no HDR, but use your converter of choice (DPP, Lightroom, ACR, Aperture, etc) to show us how much we can achieve! This is not a put-down or rejection of Photoshop or other pixel editors -- in fact, we tend to keep PS, etc, on hand for things that we need pixel editing for, but the field of Raw processing opens up the richness of our photos to give us at least a "starting point" and often an end result as well! So, in this thread, let's demonstrate all we can do with our Raw processors!
I'd like a balance here between "fixing in RAW", "enhancing in RAW", and "I'm having trouble -- what can I do?".
Granted, it can be a dramatic relief to bring an under-exposed or an over-exposed shot into our Raw processor and "bring it back to life". But, to me, there is a broader use of Raw processors: take a well-exposed shot, that would come out nice as an in-camera jpeg, and bring out "Pop" in that shot that would go beyond that in-camera jpeg -- that's to me what Raw processing is all about.
Or, a very important aspect of shooting in Raw: take a shot with a large dynamic range that is overall well-exposed but has, say, highlights that would "blow out" in a jpeg, but that can be recovered in a Raw processor.
Or, those that practice ETTR (HAMSTTR), show us your stuff -- pushing exposure to the right, both with the "base exposure" of aperture and shutter speed and using your ISO to amplify the brightness to push that exposure to the limits, then in your Raw processor bringing that bright photo down to a fine, clean image...
So, this thread is about getting the best out of our shots using these powerful tools and then sharing this with others so we all can learn.
The format would be to post a shot straight from the camera with only your converter defaults applied -- no DPP picture styles (other than Neutral or, if stated Standard), no special presets, we want to see the bare bones output. And please post your before (and after) shots at full-size (POTN limits), not shrunken or part of a screen shot -- we need to see the full image.
Then, do your thing in your RAW converter and post the result, again, full POTN size please.
The next request is to post a screen shot of any relevant converter edits that made the shot what it was. Basic tonal/contrast/saturation adjustments of course, tonal curve if applicable, noise reduction and sharpening if you did a significant amount of these things (other than, say, just snap the sharpening slider up). This thread is not about showing off, but is about sharing and learning about a basic but invaluable set of tools that are not only available for Raw shooters but for jpeg shooters (and tiff developers) as well. Please, show us your stuff, and if you don't we'll remind you!
Lastly, especially if you want help, but maybe just for others to play with, you could post a link to your RAW file through a hosting service if you have access to one. You could also, if you wish, post a "final" version that has had Photoshop applied, but only if you first give us the Before and After straight out of your Raw processor.
I hope we get some activity on this! It would be very cool to see the low level work that leads to others' success!
Update, It's been over three years, and over 1 million views, and over 5,000 posts!
Update! Since I find myself repeating our "thread guidelines" so often, I'm putting a "cheat sheet" here that can be copied and pasted as "friendly reminders":
-------------Tony's Friendly Reminders--------------
Please no pixel-processing--Raw processing only!
Please show Raw Neutral for your before, and Raw conversions only for your after! You may, at some point, post a "photoshopped" version as a reference, but your Before and After are the key, and no Photoshopping allowed!
Please post either a Screen Shot of your Raw adjustment settings or a detailed list of your settings after your After post so that we can learn and be inspired by you!
Please, post your Before and After images full size (POTN max) so that we can fully appreciate the work you've done! Rather than just showing them in a screen shot from your Raw processor let us get a good view of the larger image!