Nature Photographer Robert Knight On Shooting RAW, Shooting Anywhere

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Robert Knight, award-winning wildlife and nature photographer, answers questions emailed by PDN readers.

This month on Ask the Experts, Robert Knight is answering your questions on  landscape photography, shooting RAW,  handling a variety of environments and conditions, workflow or image storage. To submit your question, email, or click here.

Robert Knight  has won many prestigious awards for his landscape and wildlife photography, including the "Wild Places" award in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and editorial awards from Nature's Best and National Geographic.

A member of the San Disk Extreme Team, Knight has been a traveler for years. His photo expeditions have taken him to extreme environments, including Antarctica with its cold, wet air, to Africa, with intense, dry heat. Knight shoots in RAW format to get a broader range of colors and lighting exposure possibilities, which requires more image storage space than the JPEG format.  He uses high-capacity SanDisk Extreme cards for extra space.

We'll be posting his  answers to reader questions all this month. To send Knight a question of your own, email the editor of PDN at


What does Robert think is the best RAW converter out there and why: Adobe Camera RAW, Adobe Lightroom 3, Apple Aperture 3, or Phase One Capture One? Thanks!
-- N. G. Kailie
via email

I think it largely depends on the user to determine which application fits his/her needs.  I am not hedging here, but truly feel that each will have advantages depending upon the needs of the user.

I work with both Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Lightroom at the moment, although I have explored Apple Aperture and Phase One Capture One and all are excellent choices. For starters, I think there is an advantage to sticking with technology and an application that you are familiar with, rather then constantly switching to new technology.  Many times much valuable time can be spent learning ever changing technology and new applications rather then spending time in the field with the subject matter you are seeking to document.  Having said that, technology does evolve with time and so it is also important to stay informed of beneficial new developments that can improve image optimization or workflow.

 I also advise my workshop participants [at] not to invest any time at all deleting photographs.

Memory and storage are relatively inexpensive and life is too short, rather you should go right to work on the photographs that you are happy with.

What are your thoughts on the practice of shooting "captive wildlife" and all of the downstreams that happen as a result?
--SM Morris
via email

I have only photographed captive animals on one occasion, and not since that time.  I prefer to work with animals in the wild and that is where I do my work.

When photographing wild animals, how do you balance getting the shot versus the animal’s comfort, natural behavior, etc.  Do you think your presence influences the animal ?
--David H.
via PDN Pulse

I like to take my time and not to disrupt the natural setting if I am documenting a landscape, nor the natural behavior of the animal if I am documenting wildlife. I try to find the art and beauty in the subject in its natural state with respect and consideration.

Of all the conditions you’ve shot under — cold and wet, hot and dry —which was the most challenging? How did you deal with that challenge?
-- Holly Stuart Hughes, PDN

There have been many challenges, and for me extreme environments contain some of the interesting opportunities.

The key to a successful assignment is to spend time planning ahead by preparing logistically for any challenges that may present themselves.

Critical in the preparation is organizing what I call my "tools of expression," all the equipment that I will need while on location. Whether I will be spending a month trekking in the mountains, hanging out of a helicopter over the desert, or scuba diving on a remote reef, I always make sure I have the passionate desire to be there, and reliable equipment to help me document the experiences I am having.


PDN August 2016: The Fine-Art Photography Issue



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