Category Archives: Commentary

Straight out of Camera versus Editing in the digital darkroom

In the last couple of years I’ve seen a lot on Facebbok and various forums regarding straight out of camera (SOOC) images and their merits as opposed to images that have been adjusted in a digital package (such as Lightroon, Photoshop, etc).  The SOOC folk seem to think there are some great merits to not having ‘done anything’ to their images, which means they have, in their not so humble opinions, got it ‘right’ in camera.  There are even Facebook groups devoted to SOOC images!

What many of them overlook is the fact that those jpegs they’re posting (they’re always jpegs as otherwise they’ve processed them) HAVE been processed – by the in camera algorithm of the company that makes the camera.

My take on editing treats digital ‘straight out of camera’ (SOOC) images I treat as negatives.  When I shot film (and I shot film for around 50 years) I wouldn’t show the negatives to someone and ask them didn’t they think it was a great shot.  I’d print it, or get it printed.  A process involves a lot of decisions and does involve editing.

So I don’t think the much touted ‘SOOC’ has any great merits.  I prefer to shoot raw (I always shoot Raw or Raw + Jpeg) and edit in my digital darkroom.  I do like to get it as ‘right’ as I can, so the editing I have to do is minimal, but I have absolutely no problem in adjusting colour balance, saturation, brightness and contrast in my digital darkroom – those are things we did in the wet darkroom, too.  Colour balance was achieved by the inserting of filters into the enlarger head, saturation and brightness by the timing of the exposure in the enlarger, and the enlarging lens settings, and contrast the grade of paper chosen, soft to hard. So there is no way a print from a negative is straight out of camera.

Here’s a recent image – the SOOC jpeg and the raw edited to bring it up to a better result.  I’ve only done exactly what I would have done in the darkroom – lightened the shadows a bit (done by dodging and burning in the wet darkroom), and adjusting white balance and levels.  SOOC is on the right – and it’s certainly a usable image, but the edited version on the left is far better.  You can see the settings I used in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) before opening in Photoshop and resizing to ‘print’ standard for the web.  As I only managed 2 frames of this bird before he flew off, I didn’t have time for a lot of in camera adjustments.  This is the strength of digital, we can save much more marginal images than was possible in film.

Bird Shot Comparison

I love digital.  I embraced it as early as I was able to afford it, and love the freedom it gives me to shoot as many angles and exposure combinations as I desire of a chosen subject.  The very fact that I DON’T have to make such critical decisions on the fly and in the field are, to me, digital’s huge strength and advantage.  Why limit yourself when it is not necessary?

And in digital you can make these fine adjustments yourself, so the result reflects YOUR taste and vision, not that of a technician in a photo lab somewhere.  No matter how good a photo lab, what they duo is filtered through your instructions of what you want to achieve and their interpretation of those instructions.  It introduces levels of misunderstanding that don’t happen when you do the work yourself.

In the film days, not may people had access to, or the high level skills to use, the resources of a full colour wet lab.  So we were reliant on the skills of this technicians,  I know I suffered some disappointments in when what I envisaged came back from the lab, and the results were somewhat short, and often very different.  Indeed, some of those images I have had scanned and adjusted in the digital darkroom, and I like my results much better.

So, for me, it’s digital all the way, and I embrace the width and depth of the editing possibilities available.  I even like to do montages, although I always state that they are composed using more than one frame, and I call them images, rather than photos.  And yes, you could do those in your wet darkroom too, although it took a lot of skills and a painstaking level of fine finagling to get them right.  Digital is MUCH easier!

Naturally, not everyone will agree, that’s what makes our photography such an interesting job/hobby/past-time.

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Why Photographic Prints (and Licences) are Expensive

This was inspired by a post by Mel Sinclair on her website on the same topic (Mel has some gorgeous images from Iceland – on my wishlist but I haven’t managed to get there yet).  Pricing’s something I’ve thought about a lot, all photographers do, I think, but never written about before.

I too am a very small player in the photographic scheme of things.  No doubt it’s hard enough to make money in Photography these days, with what seems like “everyone’ doing it, it’s getting even harder and harder to make back the true worth of a photo.

I’ve get lots of very positive feed back along the lines of “Oh!  I Love your image / calendar / canvas print” but those comments do not translate into sales.

It does seem that art has lost its value.  If I had a sale for every “I could take that myself” comment I’d be the most successful photographer out there!  And I wonder just how many ever Do go out and take it themselves.  Darned few, I’d bet.

What it Takes to capture a great image:

Travel time and cost.

If I’m driving – anything from 15 minutes to 5 days – yes, I’ve driven a 2,000 km round trip for an image.  And we all know the cost of fuel – currently my diesel van costs $95 to fill the tank and with perfect driving conditions at 90 kph I get just on 700kms a tank.  So for that 5 day round trip it was 4 tankfuls.  Plus the cost of accommodation, food and other trip essentials.

Equipment.

DSLR bodies x 2, lenses x 4, Medium Format Digital bodies x 2, lenses x 4, tripods x 2, monopod x 1, media cards x 10, flash units x 3 and a whole lot of peripherals like cases to carry it, reflectors and other gear.  And lets not forget the mobile phone.

And on local trips – anything up to 90 minutes to catch that storm, sunrise or sunset – I need a nap when I get home , so I can get through the rest of the day, and it takes time to load, backup and edit those images too.

Processing those Images

A computer (IMac) to process them; 3 x HDDs (3 x 2Tb) for storage and backup; Time to download, backup and edit (and editing time is a substantial factor); Internet access costs;  hosting costs for my page; plus marketing time uploading and sharing to various sites

And the Intangibles – the ones the “Take it Myself” brigade don’t stop to consider

My time, effort and the skill used in taking the the images has taken many years of study, training, workshops and practice to develop – and it is a never ending process.  What value do you put on it – and how do you calculate it?

Does every image have a value?  Yes, but you need to include all those general costs it took to produce the image, as outlined above, plus the individual factors which went into any particular image – see the examples below.

If I’m selling you licence for a file you will get the full resolution file, untagged, so I will never be able to use that image again for prints or any other purpose (except possibly marketing).  It will no longer have a place in my library of saleable Fine Art.  Consider this when objecting to the price of an exclusive licence.

Two example images.

Blue Dawn The Old Jetty

Blue Dawn and The Old Jetty (my most popular image online) are available to purchase on my website .  Go on, you know you’d like one! Hint, hint, they make gorgeous canvas prints.

Factor in the cost of flights to and from New Zealand, car hire, accommodation, associated trip costs – $7,200 – and a month away from home – and the cost of internet access and backups on the run.

And a lot more intangible costs in time, researching locations so I knew where to go to catch extraordinary scenes, over a year  planning and arranging the trip and itinerary.

When you factor in all hose things is around $365 for a 1m x .5m canvas so expensive?

So please, next time you pass up an amazing image from any Photographer, please consider all I’ve said here, and if you like the image enough to hang it on your wall, then buy it. You’ll make someone happier – and you’ll have a beautiful work of art to put in your home and enjoy forever.

Footnote:  Mel Sinclair had this rider in her piece – I’m not popular enough for this yet, but it’s worth remembering when considering ANY artist’s work:

“The hours I spend, fighting every single stolen image from those that think it’s OK to rip me off online. DMCA notices don’t write themselves, and I often lose hours trying to chase up stolen images. Why? Because I want my photos to hold their value, I want my collectors and buyers to know that they can only get it through me or my authorized outlets. It’s about being exclusive.”

Quiksliver Pro 2013 Finals Photos

Well, surf wise it is all happening on the Tweed (NSW) and Gold (Qld) Coasts in February / March.  We have just seent he finish of the Roxy & Quiksilver Pros from 2-15March, with Tyler Wright and Kelly Slater the respective winners.  Next week the Australian Surfing Longboard Open is held at Kingscliff beach from 20-24 March.

The finals of the Quiksilver Pro were held at Kirra on 13 March under brilliant conditions.  A big and enthuiastic crowd watched Kelly Slater edge out local stars Mick Fanning, in the semi-finals, and current World champ Joel Parkinson in a thrill packed Final.

To the Victor the Spoils.  A triumphant Kelly Slater is carried up the beach after his win.
To the Victor the Spoils. A triumphant Kelly Slater is carried up the beach after his win.

Joel Parkinson in the tube suring the Final.  His two top scoring waves of 8.67 and 7.83 were just not enough to beat Kelly Slater’s two top scores of 9.83 and 8.73.

Joel Parkinson in the barrel during his first high scoring wave of 8.67
Joel Parkinson in the barrel during his first high scoring wave of 8.67
popping out of the tube on jis second high scoring wave of 7.83.
Joel parkinson popping out of the tube on his second high scoring wave of 7.83.
And the second eave was finished off with a brief floater
And the second wave was finished off with a brief floater
Kelly Slater as the barrel forms over him on his first wave, which earned him a 8.73 score
Kelly Slater as the barrel forms over him on his first wave, which earned him a 8.73 score
And Kelly's triumphant turn out of the wave
And Kelly’s triumphant turn out of the wave
Slater pops out of the tube on his second scoring ride of 9.83.  This wave featured a 17 second ride int he tube!
Slater pops out of the tube on his second scoring ride of 9.83. This wave featured a 17 second ride int he tube!

See a video here of this ride – last video on the page

A section of the big crown watching the Finals
A section of the big crown watching the Finals
My vantage point was just where these girls are setting up on the grass.  By comp time (90 minutes later) it was wall to wall bodies on walkway, grass and rocks.
My vantage point was just where these girls are setting up on the grass. By comp time (90 minutes later) it was wall to wall bodies on walkway, grass and rocks.

 

 

 

Roxy Pro Quarter Finals

I got up nice and early today and toddled down to see what was going on in the Land Rover sponsored Quiksikver and Roxy Pros.  I haven’t been able to get down before as I had something on earlier in the week.

I went to Snapper Rocks first, had a look around the ‘surf village’ and got a feel for the day.  Snapped this shot of possible future champs, who knows?  They were watching all the hoo haa that accompanies the Pro staff trying to corral and organise those big floaty things that mark out the ‘course’.

Future champions?
Future champions?

Then I drove over to Kirra, and was lucky enough to get a nice close parking spot (right by the loos, very convenient LOL), and I walked down to the rock wall at the southern end of the beach.  Most of my shots are from there, it was a good vantage point early but as the morning progressed the action went north.  Tomorrow I may set up a bit further north myself.

I managed to shoot all the competitiors bar Carissa Moore in QF4, the waves had moved along and she was surfing a L O N G way up the beach.  First, the results.

ROXY-QF-RESULTS

So, my images for QF1.  The first is Tyler Wright and the second Courtney Conlogue.

ROXY-QF1-WRIGHT-_I7U9692

roxy-QF1-conlogue-_I7U9699

Quarter Final 2 was bewteen Stepahnie Gilmore, who scored the highest wave of the QFs at 9.8, and Alana Blanchard.

Stephanie Gilmore in the tube during her 9.8 ride
Stephanie Gilmore in the tube during her 9.8 ride
Alana Blanchard cutting up a wave during QF2
Alana Blanchard cutting up a wave during QF2

Stephanie Gilmore – always showing genuine pleasure when fans approach – here coming back after her round with a lovely smile fot eh folk hoping to snap a photo.

Stephanie Gilmore coming in with a smile for fans, after winning her Quarter Final and progressing to the semi finals.
Stephanie Gilmore coming in with a smile for fans, after winning her Quarter Final and progressing to the semi finals.

Quarter Final 3 was between Bianca Buitendag of South Africa, who just could not seem to get a decent wave, and Sally Fitzgibbon of Australia who, perhaps knowing the beach better, caught several well scoring waves to progress to the Semi Finals

Binaca Buitendag in a tube which unfortunately closed in on her.
Binaca Buitendag in a tube which unfortunately closed in on her.
Sally Fitzgibbons caught this nice tube and rode through it and pulled off some good turna on the end of this wave.
Sally Fitzgibbons caught this nice tube and rode through it and pulled off some good turna on the end of this wave.

QF4 was between Carissa Moore of Hawaii and Pauline Ado of France.  Again, Moore, who has surfed in Australia several times, seemed to catch better waves more often and progressed through to the Semis.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a good enough image of her to put up here.

Pauline Ado of France catching a tube during QF4 - unfortunately for her it closed in, leaving her nowhere to go.
Pauline Ado of France catching a tube during QF4 – unfortunately for her it closed in, leaving her nowhere to go.

And we were also treated to our local ‘Didge man’ (that’s what I always think of him as) who is a regular sight round the traps on the Gold and Tweed coasts.

Russel Corowa and his didgeridoo are a fixture at Snapper Rocks, where the Aboriginal man proudly celebrates his indigenous heritage by blessing the surf while overlooking the waves.

Russel Corowa - didgeridoo man
Russel Corowa – didgeridoo man

4 October is World Animal Day.  Red Bubble is supporting The Nature Conservancy by offering a discount and a contribution to the Nature Conservacy.

Purchase from RB using the code ‘wildthings’ between now and October 4th and you’ll not only get 5% off your order, they’ll donate another 5% to support The Nature Conservancy in protecting nature and conserving habitats around the globe.

To support this special initiative (that sounds SO stuffy!) I have placed special reduced prices for mounted, framed and canvas prints and posters on 3 of my best whale images from the current season – ‘Big, Beautiful Fluke‘, ‘Joy of Life‘ and ‘Up & Over #2 with Mt Warning

Hustle on over and grab one before it’s all over.  Strictly until 4 october, on 5 october these images will go back to being only available as postcards and posters at RB, and prints at the normal price from my website.

 

 

SPECIAL OFFER! One only canvas print.

A 1 metre x 1/2 metre canvas for just $200 plus postage.  (Solid colour wrap  NOT canvas wrap.)

This my most popular image on the net over all my galleries and webpages, and most viewed, featured and commented on at RedBubble.

I will have another image, By Road or Lake,  as a canvas soon for the same price

I calculated the Courier delivery to various capital cities as follows: Brisbane $23, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide all $29, Hobart $37, Perth $37, Darwin $42

Spring is Sprung – Percy in the Avocado tree

Percy came out with me to inspect the avocado tree today – and Yes! we have flowers.  Wheee!  And there were some busy little bees happily pollinating for us.  Avos in 4-6 weeks, eatable in 6-8 (provided no strong winds like 2 years ago when we lost 80% of the buds in October).

Here is that cheeky pig in the tree!  He’ll be coming further afeild with me tomorrow, I don’t have to work until 1pm so we might go down to the beach.

Meet Percy

I have set myself a project of taking a photo every day (orthe best I can do) for the month of September including a yellow object.  So I had to find one.

So please meet Percy the honking piggy.  You squeeze him and he makes this weird noise.  Master Yoda the small and usually brave Cornie cat is terrified of him and turns tail, but Honey my Siamese is just curious.  Sorry I didn’t get a better first image, we had to go out last night and this is Percy in the pot plant after we got home and I was just about to head to nod land.  Then I remembered.  I’ll do better today.

 

Off to Whale Watch today

I have started a new part time job which is wonderful for the finances but eats into my photo time, of course.  But it’s so nice to be meeting people in the course of the day again – I definitely felt like a mushroom.

However, today I am not required, the swell is low, the boat has room for one more, the trip os ON!  Hopefully I’ll have some nice images for you later . . . .