Mar 29, 2012

Rock Ptarmigan and The Importance of Shooting RAW.

I've spoken about the importance of shooting RAW for years to my workshop participants and friends who photograph.

Yesterday i found another compelling reason as to why it is so import to photograph in RAW format instead of JPEG.

  Attached is a photograph i took of a Rock Ptarmigan in the Lewis Hills on April 22, 2006 with a Nikon D70s, and thankfully in RAW format.  6 Years ago i had barely an idea as to what i was doing in terms of taking photos and how to properly process them.  The original is entirely unusable in my eyes for a multitude of reasons.  If i had my time back i would have approached taking this photo very differently as i had an incredible opportunity and did so many things wrong!

As time progresses RAW developing software gets better and better meaning you can produce better quality images, even from your older files.  The other factor that makes a big difference in your final image quality is your post processing skills.  The more experience you have the better your skill set becomes.  If you go back over some of your old files as i've done with new software (Lightroom 4 and a little Photoshop work) and new skills you will produce better images.  Check the image below for a comparison to the original image.

The difference is massive.  This old file that i considered useless until yesterday is now fully usable and one that i wouldn't hesitate to print or sell.  If i had shot this in JPEG format there would have never been enough information in the image file to create this version. 
If you didn't know Newfoundland has the most southerly population of Rock Ptarmigan in the world.  Normally 'rockers' are found at much higher latitudes than where we live on the west coast of Newfoundland.  However there are a few places in Newfoundland with perfect habitat which include Blomidon, the Lewis Hills, the Gregories and the Gros Morne area.  If you get to see one in person consider yourself lucky as there aren't too many in the world who will ever get the chance.  As they look almost identical to the Willow Ptarmigan you'll want to look for a black line that runs from the eye to the beak as you can see in the image above to differentiate them from the much more common Willow which is found at lower altitudes all throughout Newfoundland.

If you like what you see and would like to learn more about photography or post processing please join me on one of my photography and photo processing workshops!  My contact info is listed below.

Thanks again so much for taking the time out of your day to read this.  I appreciate every view!

RONiN photography (Scott Grant) offers print and image sales, print service, photographic and post processing instruction for both groups and private individuals.  Photography services include weddings, engagement sessions, people and pet photos, corporate events and so on.

If you or someone you know are looking for a wedding photographer for 2012 time is running short!  I'm getting heavily booked so please call or email to reserve your wedding day!  I'm also taking bookings for 2013 and beyond.

If you would like to contact me please do so at or call at (709) 639-5335.  I'm located in Steady Brook, on the west coast of Newfoundland, in Canada.

Visit me on facebook at RONiN photography.

I also have a ton of images of all kinds on Flickr.

If you would like to learn more about RONiN photography please visit


  1. Love this Rock ptarmigan, Scott - and the difference between the 2 versions is really striking!