Monday, September 21, 2015

Puffins and FastRawViewer

In 2009, I went on an amazing trip from Grand Manan Island to Machias Seal Island in the Bay of Fundy to photograph Atlantic Puffins.  I was prepared to take a lot of photos and I filled up my CF card with 370 photographs (you can get much larger storage cards these days, but that's what I could do in 2009!).

When I got back home, sorting through that many digital images was a huge task, especially considering that it represented just one day out of our stay on Grand Manan.  I had over 2400 photographs from that trip.  Opening up the RAW images took a lot of time, and I wished I had a quicker way to check the focus and composition of each image as I sorted the good from the bad and ugly.

Puffin portrait

Truth be told, I ended up cherry-picking a couple of puffin photos, and I never really went through the whole set to see what was there.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a review of FastRawViewer on Photography Life's website.  It sounded like a good solution to sorting through raw files, so I downloaded a trial version.

Like it's name says, FastRawViewer is really fast.  On my system, it takes about two seconds to load a 41 megabyte RAW image from my D800.  It's not just a preview, but the whole image.  With one keypress (shift-left-click), I can see the image instantly at 100% zoom, to check for critical focus.  In Lightroom, the same process takes 6-7 seconds after loading the image.  That is a huge difference when you have to check hundreds of images.

Two puffins on Machias Seal Island

The interface isn't fancy, but isnt' bad when you learn a few shortcut keys.  You can easily check for over or under exposure, or boost the shadows to check for shadow detail. A single keystroke will also pass the image directly to Lightroom or Photoshop, or any other image processor you want, as well as other features.

I used FastRawViewer to look through my Machias Seal Island photos, and I was surprised to find a number of good photographs.  I've included a few here.

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At $US 20.00, it's an inexpensive tool that solves a real problem that I've been having for a long time.

Arctic Tern on Machias Seal Island

. . . Rob Williams