A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about shooting in the RAW. If you don’t know what I mean, you should go back and read that. If you read it, and now have your DSLR camera set to take RAW images, you might be wondering what you can do with them. They are not jpgs – and they require processing.
Depending on your camera (Nikon’s RAW file format is .NEF), the RAWfiles will have their own file extension. Sometimes, depending on your operating system, the files will be recognized as image files and an image browser might open them. They may also be enormous in file size – my average .nef file size out of the camera is around is about 18 MB.
So what to do with these files? Well, pretend these are the negatives (although not really a negative) in the old days, and now you’re going to go learn some dark room photo processing, only it’s not in a dark room and it’s all done digitally – not with chemicals, photo paper, and time adjustments.
This gives you outstanding control over what comes out of the RAW photo files before you export them to jpegs and publish them (or even send off to a photo print shop which you can also do).
A lot of professional photographers will use Adobe’s Lightroom for their photo processing – which is fine. But if you’re broke, or you want even more power, you’ll want to choose darktable. While this app is not intuitive at first, you’re gonna be amazed at how much you can improve your photos as you learn the basics. Then, after you’ve mastered the basics, you can go on and try the other powerful tools and filters in darktable to create professional looking photographs. I’m serious.
darktable is Open Source And Free
If you go with Adobe’s Lightroom, you’re going to have pay some money – starting at about $120.00USD a year. That will give you 20 GB of file storage in the cloud as well. You can also have access to the online version of Lightroom.
With darktable, you don’t have access to any cloud features – but you don’t pay any money for a powerful photo editing tool. In some ways, Lightroom may be better, but in other ways, darktable is far more powerful in its capabilities. But you will need to spend a bit of time figuring things out – but it’s time well spent.
In the recent post, I recommended the youtube channel of Bruce Williams and he has some great tutorials.
There is another photographer I can also recommend for fantastic no fluff tutorials on using dark table – Stef Ferro who is based out of Australia. He does a lot of travel photography and exclusively uses darktable for his photo processing. You can check out his darktable tutorials and resources on his website, here.
This is his introductory tutorial to darktable which is awesome:
Enjoy. And you’re welcome! Let’s see what you can now do with more photo editing skills!