Monday, October 27, 2008

Chasing software

I'm working on about two dozen 35mm slides dating back to last year (timeliness is something I'm not always good at) and some 4x5 slides going back to last winter's studio work. For the slides I use a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000ED scanner which I like and an Epson V750 Pro flatbed scanner. Far better than me, which is the point here.

Sometimes I run into a slide that just doesn't scan right. And after spending hours going through all the interations of the software tools, the digital version just doesn't match the slide. It's why I spend as much, sometimes too much, time in the field getting the capture right. I try to make it what I saw and wanted to capture. It's the original and always worth the effort.

And while the many photographers can and do argue that you can almost fix anything in Photoshop, the saying, "Shoot raw and fix it in the computer.", I will always argue the opposite, "Make the original the best, and you minimize the computer work." Because in the end, all the computer knowledge and experience of photo editing can't overcome the lack of knowledge and experience of actually being a photographer and doing your best while you were standing there.

It's that simple. But it's also the opposite. I'm not the most literate, let alone competent, person with the photo editing tools. I started learning after getting my computer in 2006, and I'm still learning. But it got me to thinking. Why we chase software, always thinking it's the answer to our problem(s) or question(s)?

And while I've usually been a critic of this, I find myself on the same road, wondering if some new software would help or be better than what I had. My computer already has more software packages than I'll ever use let alone learn to be productive. That's because of the way they package it, where you gain by buying suites than individual, except the suite has more packages than you need or want.

This is the Adobe approach. It's cool if you use them, but questionable if you don't, except there's always that hope or plan you will. And be intergrated, well, so much the enticement to think about it and how you can do more and better things. Or so we think, which is where I am. Do I buy another software package for the scanner, the same one I have for another scanner?

The slide doesn't change, and I know I either haven't found the combination of tools and settings to get what I want or it's just not possible. If the former, I'm just not doing enough, and if the latter, there isn't anything I can do beyond what I've done. And that's the dilemma. And how much is hope and ideas worth.

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