RAW verses JPG is Not The Problem

Fourth photography book, available for order at Amazon.com. 


Fourth photography book, available for order at Amazon.com.

Like most photography forums, the questions always arises, “RAW or JPG?”  Problem is, many participating in the forum threads don’t understand the “RAW” concept itself—but the arguments follow like MAC verses Windows (Notice I didn’t say PC, PC stands for Personal Computer, every home computer is a PC).  If people would first familiarize themselves with what RAW really is, as there is no “single” or “standard” RAW format, (See Wiki def.) then they would understand, RAW has it’s pros and cons.  One of those cons is that there are hundreds of RAW formats, even within camera models made by the same camera company, not all RAW formats are created equal–most use compression, encryption and almost all are proprietary to the camera manufacturer.

I personally shoot what is appropriate for what I’m doing–it all goes back to using the right tool for the right job.  While I’ll shoot the RAW format on my Canon 5D Mark II, most of the time, I shoot JPG, unless the client needs RAW or I feel the image has “evergreen” value.  You only run into problems with JPG’s if you open the original file, make a change, then save it, then open it again, make a change then save it.  That is why workflow is so important.  So if you shoot JPG, it’s always best to open the file and save out as a TIFF original, make your back-ups, then make your working copy as a TIFF too, then you can final out into the format your client prefers. Heck, most people don’t even understand the difference between the “save as JPG” and “save for web JPG” in Adobe Photoshop.

Let’s not forget that the acronym JPEG means Joint Photographic “Experts” Group and it’s a “standard” format that has been around long before RAW. RAW has no standard format, though many have been trying to adopt the DNG (Digital Negative) RAW format, but most camera companies, since they like to sell their own RAW “converter” software ($$$), don’t want to adopt this standard. My advice, do not get caught up in the marketing hype when it comes to RAW.  JPG will be around, just like TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) for a long, long time, though RAW formats change everyday and some RAW formats, may not be supported in the future. I can name at least three camera companies long gone, Minolta, Contax, Bronica and I’m sure others will follow along with their “proprietary” RAW formats.  FYI–a few companies, like Leica, use DNG and DNG is what was started, supported and still pushed by Adobe.  Problem is, camera companies cannot make money off the DNG format anymore than the JPG or TIFF formats.  RAW formats are derivatives of the old workhorse TIFF format.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with private clients at Playboy Studio West this year with their top photographer Arny Freytag (Ken Marcus’s former assistant) and when Arny pulls out “perfect” 8×10 transparencies, not retouched, and shows them to our clients, that says it all.  (Read more here.)  And today, Arny shoots with the Canon 5D Mark II while the 1DS and the HD-39 sits on the shelf along with his wooden 8×10 camera. And for the record he shoots tethered and the files are dropped into Phase One, Capture One software instantly, for minimal post-production–because it’s done right with lighting! (Make-up, styling, posing, the angle of incidence to reflection and a great model help too!)

I recently conducted a glamour photography workshop in Las Vegas (Dec.) and in Los Angeles (Feb.) and Arny was our guest instructor and he demonstrated some great “over and under lighting” to keep the face clean, the eyes bright, but more important, in the LA workshop, we tethered the attendees camera into his assistant’s laptop.  Arny proved to the attendees how to get it right in the camera, RAW vs JPG was not the issue. Getting it right in the camera was the focal point. (Arny will join us at the Phoenix Mansion workshop if you want the experience.)

Bottom line–Get it done right at the shoot, capture it in the right format for your needs (right tool for the right job) with the right white balance, lighting, lens, pose, model, make-up, etc., but more important, it doesn’t matter how you capture it if you can’t capture it correctly the first time.  Don’t use formats, Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, or whatever as your crutch–get it right the first time and “spraying and praying” in RAW or JPG is not the answer. Well that’s it, don’t forget our military men and women, their families and friends–God Bless them all!  Thanks, Rolando

Adobe Photoshop Hits 20!

Rhonda, photographed almost 20 years ago!

Rhonda, photographed almost 20 years ago!


While many photographers of today were just infants in diapers twenty years ago when Adobe Photoshop version 1.0 was introduce, I still remember, back in my military days, when there were no bells and whistles with Photoshop,, it was merely a software tool targeted more for the graphics crowd.  Today however it’s evolved more toward photographers and with the advent of other Adobe products like Lightroom, and photographers are in hog heaven now that it’s synergized with the evolution of digital photography.


Knowing how to use Photoshop today is more of a skill then back in the simplistic days of mere cropping, dodging and burning than anything.  Now we have smart objects, layers, adjustment layers, masks, the magic wand and even the healing brush—but has that made some photographers become more than photographers?  Are we photographers or image makers?  While I’m a big fan of Photoshop and especially Lightroom and I enjoy my Nik Software filters for Photoshop, I’ve seen too many photographers, especially those that are about as old as Photoshop, use Photoshop as a crutch, when in fact, Photoshop for photographers should be more like the old days of a darkroom, which literally means a “room of corrections” in Latin.

Photoshop should be used to tweak an image, for photographers that is, not the ultimate savior, for a photo shoot gone wrong.  In the past six months I’ve been fortunate to work with Playboy’s number one photographer, Arny Freytag, whose resume records a Brooks Institute of Photography degree, former assistant to the famed Playboy photographer Ken Marcus, and 34 years at the big bunny studios amongst numerous other credits.

Eva, photographed 11 years ago, on slide film, no Photoshop!

Eva, photographed 11 years ago, on slide film, no Photoshop!

I’ve been fortunate to have Arny as our guest at the past glamour photography workshops held at the Palms Casino, Sky Villa Penthouse and the Los Angeles Hollywood Castle and there is always a recurring theme with Arny—do it right in the camera.  Use your wih lighting, intermixing of shadows, proper posing, great makeup and styling, and you’ll limit any Photoshop post-production to the bare minimum just like in the old days of Photoshop version 1.0.  It’s not that Arny doesn’t believe in digital photography, it’s just that he’s proven at my workshops and with recent private instruction clients that if a photographer knows what they’re doing, then it’ll be captured in the camera correctly.

I’ve been helping Arny with private instruction clients, for the first time ever offered, where we worked with his crew at Playboy Studio West and it’s an amazing experience. Arny pulls out old 8 x x10-inch transparencies and proves to the client that without retouching or airbrushing, perfection can be achieved in the camera.  There was no Photoshop back in the non-digital days and especially with large format slide film, if there were any imperfections, you’d surely see them but, Arny proves with the right photographic tools, little if any post-production needs to be applied after the shoot.

While some of those secrets, especially with lighting, I’ll reveal in my upcoming lighting book, you can still learn them hands-on, but you have to be at least two years younger than Adobe Photoshop or older.  If you’re ready to tackle this intense training, feel free to contact me for private instruction with Playboy’s top photographer.  While this is no cheap experience, if your budget can’t cope with the world’s finest photographer in glamour and nude photography, we’ll have Arny as our guest for the first part of the Phoenix Mansion workshop later this year. 

While Adobe Photoshop celebrates it’s 20th birthday, one can only tell what Adobe Lightroom will be like on it’s twentieth birthday as it’s beyond the diaper stage but still in it’s infancy as it looks at big brother Photoshop to help it mature for digital photographers today.  Thanks, and don’t forget our military service members, their families, and friends, without them, we’d have no freedom to manipulate any images in Adobe Photoshop.  God Bless, Rolando.

Amazing Friends! Playboy Photographer and Casino Owner

Note: More behind scenes photos on my Facebook page!

Playboy's #1 Photog, Arny Freytag and I with Elite Model Jenni and KT

Playboy's #1 Photog, Arny Freytag and I with Elite Model Jenni and KT

As I return back from Las Vegas from a two-day semi-private instruction workshop and our three-day “Glamour, Beauty & the Nude” weekend workshop the thought of friendships come to mind—especially since I had several friends associated with this event, Arny Freytag, Gavin Maloof, Igor and Lucy Rivillis, Holley Dorrough, Jeff Whitted, Stephanie Dawn, the group of photographer attendees and my team of talented models.

Arny Freytag, Playboy’s top photographer, provided amazing instruction as a guest to our semi-private instruction first few days.  Gavin Maloof provided us with VIP treatment at his Palms casino and even had us over his house one evening so we could watch the NBA team he owns, the Sacramento Kings on his gigantic television in his theatre room.  Igor & Lucy Rivillis joined us for any support we needed as usual, and of course, I couldn’t have pulled this workshop off without my second in command, my make-up artist, Stephanie Dawn from Atlanta.  My models, what can I say, without them our lenses are left lifeless.  My hat’s off to all eight of the them and especially the attendees for all their efforts—everyone pitched in to make this Las Vegas workshop a cherished memory.

Palms Casino and Sacramento Kings owner Gavin Maloof at his house with (L to R) Stephanie Dawn, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough, myself, Elite model Jenni and KT

Palms Casino and Sacramento Kings owner Gavin Maloof at his house with (L to R) Stephanie Dawn, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough, Elite model Jenni and KT

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many people, with those encounters comes new friends, though not all friendships last, which often makes me wonder how people generally define friendship.  When I was much younger our parents would make us watch 60-minutes and in one famous interview, the late Malcom Forbes described the meaning of success as when you could truly identify one real friend for each finger on each hand—Forbes claimed he was still working on his first hand.

Elite model Jenni poses while shooting at the Sky Villa Penthouse, Palms Casino during my workshop.

Elite model Jenni poses at the Sky Villa Penthouse, Palms Casino during my workshop.

I’m sure a lot of people who thought they were his friend that day, questioned with a gut check, their own definition of friendship.  Mine is simple, I follow Forbes formula when it comes to gauging my success, but I break down my friendships into two categories, business and personal, though sometimes the two will mix.  Then I further breakdown those friendships into the subcategories of political and realistic as I know many friendships exist for political correctness in today’s society.

So a politically correct business friendship is just that, they will only be around while it’s for the benefit of business and politically correct—Martha Stewart is a great example of learning who her business and personal friends were during her legal crisis.  I saw it in the U.S. Army when Command Sgt. Major Freddy Manning was the senior enlisted soldier who only answered to the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Commander-in-Chief, Gen. George Joulwan.  We were all a team and everyone loved the SOUTHCOM sergeant major, everyone was his friend, from four-star generals on down, from every branch of the military.  While his uniform and position commanded respect, Sgt. Major Manning respected his troops and they respected him and his retirement ceremony was that of a general’s.

Eleya poses in the hot tub of the Sky Villa penthouse suite at the Palms Casino.

Eleya poses in the hot tub of the Sky Villa penthouse suite at the Palms Casino.

A few years after his retirement, I visited Sgt. Major Manning down in Georgia as we had done the Latin American Drug War together while I was stationed in USSOUTHCOM, and prior to that, we had been stationed together at V Corps in Frankfurt where he was the V Corps Command Sergeant Major.  We had more than a politically correct friendship, we both put in four years working personally for Gen. Joulwan at V Corps then USSOUTHCOM.   We traveled extensively together and on trips, you tend to bond.

While a few people stayed in contact with Sgt. Major Manning, he felt somewhat abandoned because after he quit being Gen. Joulwan’s right-hand man, the Christmas cards stopped flowing in and he was an example of having many “friends” that were only politically correct friends.

While our Vegas workshop was awesome, it had a few glitches, though my friend Gavin Maloof came through as a true friend to help us out and this says a lot about his character as he has no reason to be a “politically correct” friend with me—what can a photographer of my caliber bring him?  Nothing, the man has everything from owning a top Las Vegas casino, an NBA basketball team and even the ARCO arena they play in.  But Gavin Maloof was there to make sure we had what we needed.  Now that’s a friend and I salute you my friend.

Playboy's number one photographer Arny Freytag, Elite model Jenni and myself at the Palms casino on the day we arrived.

Playboy's number one photographer Arny Freytag, Elite model Jenni and myself at the Palms casino on the day we arrived.

I salute all my friends, especially those that helped out so much this past week to ensure Las Vegas was a success—you know who you are and what part you played!  Arny Freytag, I can’t say more than enough and I’ll see you soon in Jan. then in February as a VIP guest at my Los Angeles workshop.  And for those that want to know, yes, we’re back in Las Vegas (info here).

Thanks, and as I close, I ask everyone to not forget our military members, their families and friends, especially over the upcoming Christmas holidays, God Bless!  Rolando Gomez