Tag Archives: 2015

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.

Advertisements

Hobart’s DARK MOFO Winter Festival

Images from my visits to this year’s DARK MOFO Festival. I’ll add to these as I go. The first two are from the first evening of the event, the Entitle ones are from a mid week visit to town, and on the evening of 19 June I met up with friends in town and we had a wander.
The Night ship was also shot on 19 June, prior to the meet up, but I made a bad choice of location, there were far too many lights behind it. Try again today or tomorrow.
The Theme this year is paint the town red, and the Tasman Bridge and some buildings have embraced the theme and gone red.
The Tasman Bridge done red for Dark Mofo's 2015 theme of paint the town red.
The Tasman Bridge done red for Dark Mofo’s 2015 theme of paint the town red.
The Grand Chancellor Hotel has joined in the 'red' theme for Dark Mofo
The Grand Chancellor Hotel has joined in the ‘red’ theme for Dark Mofo
Pulse/Spectra beam: A powerful light shining straight up from the city beats in time with the pulse of a person touching a special sensor.
The Pulse beam from the South Arm.  It is widely visible from Hobart's outlying suburbs.
The Pulse beam from the South Arm. It is widely visible from Hobart’s outlying suburbs.
The Night Ship and the Pulse beam against a backdrop of Hobart's waterfront
The Night Ship and the Pulse beam against a backdrop of Hobart’s waterfront

Anthony McCall’s Night Ship:

“A dark ship sails nightly from Tinderbox to Mona via the city’s harbour. At regular intervals, a powerful pencil-slim searchlight radiates from the vessel to illuminate the adjacent shore. Anchors away; you’ll hear it coming.”

The Night Ship coming up the Derwent.  Pity about the other boat!  It also has a low, mournful horn blasting at intervals
The Night Ship coming up the Derwent. Pity about the other boat! It also has a low, mournful horn blasting at intervals

And the Waterfront

The Pulse beam id located in the old Mercury building in the city and has a long line of punters waiting every evening to have the light pulse to their heartbeat.
The Pulse beam id located in the old Mercury building in the city and has a long line of punters waiting every evening to have the light pulse to their heartbeat.
Waterfront and Pulse beam
Waterfront and Pulse beam

Amanda Parer’s ‘Entitle’

Launceston artist Amanda Parer's 'Entitle' installation
Launceston artist Amanda Parer’s ‘Entitle’ installation
Close up of Launceston artist Amanda Parer's 'Entitle' installation
Close up of Launceston artist Amanda Parer’s ‘Entitle’ installation
Close up of Launceston artist Amanda Parer's 'Entitle' installation
Close up of Launceston artist Amanda Parer’s ‘Entitle’ installation
Artist statement for Launceston artist Amanda Parer's 'Entitle' installation
Artist statement for Launceston artist Amanda Parer’s ‘Entitle’ installation

Bastiaan Maris’ Fire Organ installation:

“This massive structure of old steel tubing drones and hums at low frequencies beneath harmonically tuned flame-throwers blasting fire and heat into the night sky.”  Dark Mofo handout info.

Fire Organ.  Gouts of flame break off and briery float away before disintegrating.  You can see one to the left of it here.
Fire Organ. Gouts of flame break off and briefly float away before disintegrating. You can see one to the left of it here.
The Fire Organ #2
The Fire Organ #2

SO enter the date into your diaries, folk, DARK MOFO is really worth a visit, make your plans for next year NOW.  Accommodation books out very fast.

You might like to consider our garden cabin, available at $45 per night, or a little less if you have your own bedding and linen.  See the Cabin on Elanore website.