When a digital camera takes an exposure, the imaging chip records the amount of light that hits each pixel. This is recorded as a voltage level. The camera’s analog to digital circuitry then changes this analog voltage signal into a digital representation.
The cameras we use at Turner Photography are programmed to save this information into raw files. Raw files are tagged with contrast and saturation information as set in the camera by the user, but the actual image data has not been changed. The user is free to change settings based on a per-image evaluation rather than use one or two generalized settings for all images taken. The most important reason to shoot with raw files is that raw files have 65,536 brightness level available per image. A JPG file’s 8 bit space has 256 brightness levels available.
After each session, we manipulate our raw files for the maximum amount of exposure and saturation. Because the white balance (temperature of the files) is not firmly set, this can be adjusted as well during the editing of the images. This task is completed with each file taken from our cameras after your session is over.
We then convert the raw files to .JPG files (digital images). During this conversion, the digital files have the same amount of data and file manipulations as the original raw files. Plus the digital files have custom white balance applied to each image. Most of these changes are done with the camera during the session and then tweaked during editing of the images.
Raw files are the modern version of negatives during the film era. And the digital files converted from the raw files can easily be considered the same. From these .digital files, your portraits are created. Since the portrait is created from the digital file, the value of the digital file carries the same value.