Resolutions, RAW’s and Layers

   Photography is a lot more than pressing a button. There’s so many different aspects and they each have their own moment of use. In this article we’ll go over the mysteries of different resolutions, the meaning of RAW and one of Photoshop’s major element: Layers.


Resolution is so important, but not everyone talks about it. DPI stands for dots per inch which in other words means the printer dots per inch (PPI). These two are used interchangeably. A digital photo itself has no PPI, the PPI occurs once it is printed. Back to DPI, the difference between 300dpi and 72dpi is the amount of pixel information in the image. The more dots the image contains, the sharper the image will print. Now you might be wondering if 300dpi is best for printing why are there more options?  Web graphics and anything to be posted online looks normal at 72dpi, this resolution is great for web. Yet, printing a photo at 72dpi will look blurry and disrupted. Resolutions all depend on the outcome of your project. Ask yourself, are you just leaving this online or is this going for print?


If you shot RAW on your camera it imports to the computer as a RAW file. Makes sense right? Well what is RAW then? When shooting RAW you have total control over the image. I’m sure if you yourself are a control freak, that sentence made you very happy. To be clear though, a RAW file is not an image. It’s simply information gathered by the senor and given to you as is, then you import it into a computer program like Adobe camera raw and do some editing before the compression into JPEG occurs. That is why shooting in RAW gets you the highest level of quality. Shooting RAW lets you easily adjust white balance, gives you better detail in your photos, allows you to edit non-destructively, better prints and is easier to correct dramatically over or under exposed photos. Those are the reason that Pro photographers choose to shoot in RAW versus shooting in JPEG. Once you completed your edit, you can turn it into JPEG to distribute online.

Now even though shooting RAW has plenty of advantages, don’t be naive to the negative side of shooting RAW. One issue is file size. RAW files are significantly bigger than JPEGs. With that said, you can fit more JPEGs in a memory card than RAW files. Another are the formats. There are so many different formats from different companies like Canon’s CR2, Nikon’s NEF, Pentax has PEF and the list goes on. Adobe created a DNG file which is also considered to be a RAW file and is more versatile. 



What is a layer? A layer is simply one image stacked on another. Let me give you an example: A sheet of paper can be your first layer – a pencil marking is your second layer – then a highlighted mark over the pencil mark is the third layer. It’s the stacking of things with a base image. More than one layer is called a composition. Photoshop’s layer is a powerful tool that makes Photoshop everyone’s favorite. In Photoshop there is a layer panel, which holds all your layers.


The layers panel is grand in options as you can see in the above image. Let’s go over the parts that make up a layer panel:

  1. Panel options – This opens a drop down menu that provides more options
  2. Delete layer – Drag a layer into this to delete it, or simply click layer and select it
  3. Create new layer – Press to create a new layer, drag an existing layer to duplicate
  4. Layer Groups – Puts layers into one folder for better organization
  5. Add adjustment layer – Apply image adjustments
  6. Add layer mask –  Adds a layer mask to the selected layer
  7. Layer Effects – Special effects applied to your image layer
  8. Link – Enables you to link layers
  9. Locked – To lock a layer from changing
  10. Visibility – Allows you to turn off and on the visibility of a layer
  11. Fill opacity – Adjusts the amount of opacity in your layer
  12. Blend modes – Used for compositing, blends layers together into one
  13. Opacity – Adjusts the amount of transparency in a layer
  14. Layer filter – Enables you to hide or see layers based on their kind


The best thing to really get down-packed is layers. As a designer, the infinite amount of creations possible with using layers in Photoshop is crazy. Using layers allows you to not destroy your original photo, blending modes to have layers interact, create surreal effects and so much more. Photoshop isn’t Adobe’s only product that has layers and a layer panel. Adobe illustrator, After Effects, Photoshop Elements and even Flash player. So next time you get into Photoshop, start experimenting with layers, masking and do some compositing to create photos that amaze people.


Photo by Fabian Irsara …


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