Friday, June 1, 2007

Some Photographers

Ok, I'm going to rant or vent a little. It's about photographers who would rather spend their time in front of a computer than in the field with a camera. Photographers who would rather capture a fair image and spend their time "fixing" it in Photoshop instead of working to get the best original image when they were there with their camera. Photographers who think the only answer to image problem is Photoshop and not them.

I realize and remember this is an exageration, but sometimes it becomes something some photographers focus on, in the forums where they ask the question, "How can I fix my image in Photoshop?" Why isn't the question, "So, looking at my photographs, how can I do better next time?" That's what I was taught and still do when looking at my images, and my first thought after sorting the good from the bad, what did I do wrong with the bad ones. I go back to my field work, to focus on what I can do better when I'm behind the camera.

It's partly why I'm learning large format photography, where the camera is completely manual, and I have to plug my brain in and keep it plugged in throughout the process, even remembering to put the film cover back in the film holder before removing it from the camera. Large format photography is a mental process from the moment you want to look for an image, to seeing one, and then capturing one. And when you get the film back, all your ability is sitting in front of you, good, bad or indifferent. It's all you did, and it's about if it did what you saw or wanted.

I also realize that almost all photographers use Photoshop - ok, there still are some traditional darkroom photographers out there, but I'm not one of those anymore - and almost all produce their images and prints from Photoshop, especially fine art photography now. I'm not against using it to work on your images. My rant is about those who take poor to fair images and then work their hearts out to make them better. It loses something to me as a photographer where you don't focus on your ability to capture the best image when you're there.

This goes in part back to my beginnings in photography, where I bought a Minolta SRT-101 with a 58mm f1.2 lens. And I spent the next few years just shooting and learning. Once I learned the basics about photography and learned I can trust the camera's light meter (their center-weighted average light meter is actually very good for many scenes and easily adjustable for the rest - something to say about simple technology) I focused on the images. In constrast I'm still learning the light meter systems in by Canon 5D and 1N, which has 5 different metering modes.

And while working in large format, there is a time where you have to set the exposure. And this means you have to understand the light, the scene, and what you want. In black and white, it's about finding where you want zone IV for the dynamic range. This means, metering the zones. For this I use a 1-degree spot meter but also my Canon 5D with it's different meterings. In color you have to find the optimium exposure and leave the rest as it is within the dynamic range of the film. And this makes for lots of information to learn how to boil it down to the aperture and shutter speed, and if you want to bracket.

And all this means what? Getting back to the topic, it's about standing behind the camera, and not relying on a computer photo editor to save your images. It can, and it can also help you produce some amazing photographic images and art, but its purpose isn't about thinking for you when you were using the camera.

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