Handling Your Digital Originals

The source image that is now saved on your computer is also sometimes referred to as a digital negative. We recommend that you save a copy of this file in its current, renamed form (be it RAW, TIFF, or JPEG). This file contains all the available image data without any loss due to processing and including all the metadata recorded by the camera. You will often need to refer back to your original file, for example if:

► You have improved your technique and want to have another try at perfecting a particular image.

► Better RAW editors hit the market. We have seen radical improvements in image processing software in recent years, and we expect these to continue.

► Your processed images become lost or damaged due to disk failure, virus action, or accidental deletion.

A source image is a type of latent image, and the processing steps you make are equivalent to your own special analog darkroom development formula. The major difference between analog and digital images is that you can develop the same negative (i.e., the RAW image) multiple times. If you use JPEG or TIFF files as your source, you should be working exclusively with copies of the originals. RAW editing software doesn't alter the RAW file itself, but instead saves the changes you make as a separate data set or file.

> Some download tools (e.g., Photo Mechanic, Adobe Bridge, or Lightroom, for example) allow you to create a backup copy of your image files automatically during download.

> There are also tools available (such as Apple's Time Machine) that constantly check your system for new or updated files and automatically back them up to an external storage location. This an effective backup method, but it is not sufficiently safe on its own. You can find more information on backup and data security in section 13.2.

* This can easily happen if your camera battery dies while it is writing a file, or if you open the memory card door of your camera too soon.

* A series of images of the same subject but taken with differing exposure settings.

> You can, of course, change your rankings at any time.

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