Delivering RAW?

by Micah Walter

I’m in Washington D.C. right now, finishing up a two day shoot for a PR firm. The assignment was to cover a trilateral summit of the three main patent offices in the world. Everything went according to plan. Thursday evening I covered their dinner and reception, which took place in the National Portrait Gallery after closing time. It was really cool to be able to walk the halls of the gallery without anyone around. While the guests were eating I had a chance to check out some really amazing photographic portraits as well as some iconic Andy Warhol images of Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson.

The client is interested in creating a photo book with a selection of the images, but they have told me that they will handle the design and post-production phase. I pointed out what you can do with iPhoto and a few other online book makers and they seemed very excited.

So for this project the goal was to simply deliver to the client a DVD of original images. I chose to shoot RAW+Jpeg for the entire two day shoot as I though it would benefit me in a number of ways during post-production. If all of the sudden the client needed the images I would be able to quickly burn them a DVD of the Jpegs on-site without even opening Aperture. I could also burn them the RAW and Jpeg images very easily and in two separate folders using an Automator script if need be.

However, the deadline was not so harsh and so I was able to take the shoot home and import everything into Aperture. After looking through the images I realized that the artificial lighting in the various rooms I had been shooting had thrown my auto-white balance meter off in a few directions.

According to my agreement with the client I could easily burn everything to DVD and call it a day, but I decided to at least try and fix the white-balance issue, so that when they opened the images they wouldn't have a heart attack.

A few white balance eye-dropper corrections in Aperture, followed by some lifting and stamping and I was finished. They weren't perfect, but at least now they all sort of match and are in the ball-park.

I exported the shoot as full-res Jpegs so they could have something to work with right away. However, since many of the images could benefit from some additional manipulation, I decided to include the RAW images as well. Many photographers fret over whether or not to deliver RAW images. I think it really depends on the client and the purpose of the photography. For this type of job, I have no problem with it. For a job where my artistic vision was more important to me, I would probably put up a fight if asked for RAW images.

Rather than deliver a folder full of Canon CR2 files I decided to convert the images to DNG, embedding the CR2 files as well. This at least makes me feel better in that the client will have more software options if they choose to use the RAW files.

Burn both folders to a couple of DVDs, drop in the FedEx box and my job is done.

This whole DNG/RAW format has had me thinking though. If the powers that be could get together in a fashion similar to the trilateral summit I just covered, we could really make some serious headway. I will have more on the DNG format next week. Until then, try out the DNG export plugin I created last week. You can download it and read all about it at Aperture Plugged In.