I wish I could say that every shot I take is perfect, but the reality is that it’s not. Most of the time it is because of the camera’s “intelligence”. It attempts to “fix” the settings so that it is what the camera thinks is the best settings. I do use manual settings much of the time, but there are still parts of the camera running on auto that try to fix the picture. The camera also see’s things different than the human eye. Colors, saturation, and contrast are not captured the same as what the eye can see. So I always shoot raw.
What does raw mean? Well if you have a point and shoot camera, you most likely don’t have the option of raw, but most of the Digital SLR cameras (Single Lens Reflect – the kind that have changeable lenses) have that option. Basically what that means is that when the camera takes the picture, it saves that raw information from the sensor to the picture file. Unlike a JPG file that it takes the picture, compresses it (so that it is smaller, which actually looses some quality), and then saves the file as an image that everyone uses. The drawback to using raw is that it is not universal like JPG, so when I send a picture to get printed somewhere I have to convert it to JPG first. Most devices do not know what to do with a raw file without an additional program. With a raw file you can take the picture from drab to fab. Here is an example:
In this shot, you can see the top (before) picture that shows a bit drab. All I did is I brought up the brightness and saturation to make it look more like it really did when I took the picture.
Other things that can be adjusted are: sharpness, color tone, highlight, shadow, lighting curve, lens distortion, chromatic aberration, noise reduction, and white balance. Below is an example of white balance. I had to dig into old files to find one that was bad so that I could fix it and show an example.