Life in RAW format

My photographer friends say I should be shooting in RAW format. "It’s the only way to go! It will change your life!" I’m still an amateur, so I can't vouch for shooting in RAW, but I’m convinced that living in it would be pretty great.

An image shot in RAW puts a bazillion tiny pieces of digital info at your disposal so you can magically correct mistakes—without altering the original form. Think of the possibilities in daily life! I could make untold adjustments without drastically changing the basic data of my life.

From this past week alone I would make the following modifications:

* Switch the white balance on that conversation I had with the Hubs. There we were, standing in the kitchen with the iPod serenading. Finally we had all three kids tucked into bed. It was going so smoothly, but then things turned cloudy and that blue cast fell over us. Maybe I should quit using the auto white balance and mix things up with a little daylight. At a minimum I could tweak the aperture and open things up a little more. Sometimes it seems like our conversations can never get past f/5.6 without losing focus. Maybe I need a macro lens.

*Adjust the temperature on that battle with Doodlebug. God she can infuriate me with the demanding and the eye-rolling. Are we seriously going to argue about how I should NEVER FORGET that she doesn’t like her carrots cut like that? Of course, of course I know that losing my cool raises the temperature of the whole scene. But hot spots flare up so quickly sometimes that I don’t have time to think clearly. My photography gurus say practice, practice, practice, and my response time will improve. The more I shoot, they say, the more naturally I will make adjustments on the fly.

*Sharpen that image of Rascal as he nonchalantly danced and hummed in the living room by himself. Why can I not remember what song was playing? It was just yesterday! Somehow I vividly recall that almost five years ago he learned to walk on a Saturday and by Monday was jiving to Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard. That day he wore a purple tie-dyed T-shirt and blue shorts. He had four teeth and rhythm to spare. This week I carved out two hours to spend with only him, and I can’t remember half of what we talked about.

*Steady my camera shake. I think even this is beyond the scope of the RAW powers, but I might as well think big. I need a camera that will still my hand. No, still my entire body. I need a lens that will make me sit and hold Smiley until he is the first to get up. I need an f-stop that forces me to breathe in his peacefulness and allow it to saturate my bones so I don’t even for a second think about the next photo-op right around the corner.

*Change to a higher, brighter ISO. The beautiful, authentic moments of family life move so quickly that even with a shutter speed of 1/2000 I can’t seem to catch up, much less capture enough light to shine on my loved ones. One tweak just might let me freeze the action in sharply focused detail.

Ah yes, there's the dream shot: One shiny happy, side-lit family with the perfect depth of field. Quick! Press the shutter!