The Digital Negative

I’ve just finished reading The Digital Negative by Jeff Schewe.  I first became aware of Jeff Schewe when I attended a one day digital photography   seminar put on by Epson.  It’s been a number of years now as I think I had just upgraded to a Nikon D100.  There were two sessions a basic session and an advanced session.  I attended the basic session with Vincent Versace. The advanced session which I probably should have gone to had Jeff Schewe as one of the presenters.

Anyway, seeing that it was an Epson seminar there was a gallery of very larger prints by the speakers and a few others.  One of the prints was an image of a old fashion gum ball machine mostly in black.  The print was exceptional.  I’ve subsequently had the pleasure of sitting in on a few of his sessions at PhotoshopWorld a couple of years ago. Jeff Schewe knows a lot about photography and Photoshop and how to get the most out of digitally captured images.


In The Digital Negative Mr. Schewe put forward the premise that the raw image capture of your digital camera is really a digital negative.  Not in the sense that the raw file is the inverse of the printed image but in the sense that the raw file is the basis for creating your image.  The image that you will then print or publish to the web. I really like thinking of the raw files this way.  It frees you from the thinking that what comes from the camera and has had a default processing applied is as far as you should take an image. In fact the raw file is just the start of what you can do.

The book starts out explaining the technical side of how digital cameras work and the usual stuff about about aperture, shutter speed, and ISO and how they affect the digital capture.  He then spends time on an overview of processing digital negatives in Lightroom and or Camera Raw and Photoshop.

A large portion of the book discusses the Library and Develop modules of Lightroom (which is where we spend all of our time). The book was published in 2013 which means it’s up to date with Lightroom 4. Each panel of the develop module is explained in detail. While reading the book you are presented with a lot of information.  The section on the develop module could be overwhelming. I read through it but didn’t commit it all to memory. It’s easier to use the book as a reference when you need a refresher on what a specific slider or button does.

After the thorough description of Lightroom, Mr. Schewe goes on to process several images step by step. Each step is explained in depth. The final chapter describes his digital workflow for the ingesting (his word) and storing of images.

This is a must read book for those who want to present the best output from our digital negatives.  I give it high marks.

The only issue I have with the book is that the Lightroom interface being fashionably dark does not reproduce well in the book and makes it hard to read the illustrations for Lightroom panels.  A magnifying glass may help.