Tag Archives: Photoshop

Getting It Right In Camera

“I’ll just fix it in post”

This is one of those phrases in photography that drives me nuts. Earlier today, I read an opinion article by a photographer who fully embraced everything that is bad about digital photography. He espoused the goodness of new photographers staying on Auto mode until they learned how to properly use Photoshop. He encouraged them to use the high-speed multi-exposure option to increase their odds of getting a good photo. He even encouraged newbies to only shoot in JPEG, so they could fit more photos on a memory card ! Sigh…

Personally, I prefer to try to get it right in camera. That means having a basic understanding of photographic techniques. Understanding how the Exposure Triangle works – you know: ISO vs Shutter Speed vs Aperture ? Now, let’s be fair. It depends what kind of photographer you aspire to be. I consider myself more of a Curator than a Creator. By that I mean that I want to capture and share what I saw, as it happened. Creators will make extensive use of digital manipulation techniques to create their art. I have a ton of respect for their creativity – but that’s not who _I_ want to be.

Generally, I shoot in Aperture Priority mode. If you picked up my camera, you’d see it is kept in A mode, ISO 400, Aperture of f8 and Shutter Speed around 250. This is a decent middle ground for my camera and lense combination. If I need to shoot something that is happening quickly, I can pretty much shoot once the lense cap is off ! Of course, there might be minor adjustments, especially if it’s dark. I don’t keep a flash permanently mounted in the hot-shoe after all…

Equally, the more I can get right in the camera, the less time I have to worry about messing around for hours in post-processing. I tend to keep my gear fairly light, opting to make extensive use of Lightroom Mobile on my iPad. Since I don’t have all the bells and whistles available to me, I’m somewhat forced to practice better shooting technique. 


The Big Cull

Like many amateur photographers, I started out using the basic software provided with either my laptop or my camera to edit & manage my photo library. I kept all my photos, arranged loosely by date. As my skills improved, I started down the path of post-processing – moving from capturing my photos as JPEGs to RAW format, so that I could tweak them in more advanced software.

At first, I used the simplistic Apple Photos application. It was “good enough”. But soon, as my passion really stated to ignite, I needed a better system. Being the Apple fanboy that I am, I imported all my photos into Aperture. It was a great way to learn about how better to catalogue my fast-growing photo collection. And it let me tweak my RAW photos, correcting the white-balance & such. And then Apple killed it…

I was quite upset when this happened. I had only just finished learning how to manage my library and defined a workflow to edit my images. I was angry that Apple had turned their back on MY creative community. I fought against it for a while, even sending emails to Tim Cook (no response, sadly) in a desperate bid to stay with Aperture. I fought the good fight, but ultimately lost.

Of course, the Mac-daddy in the space is Adobe’s solutions – Lightroom and Photoshop. There are literally thousands of YouTube how-to videos to ease my transition. There was, however, no tool to manage the transition. I exported some 16,000 images from Aperture, only to import them again in Lightroom. Faced with the decision to either export JPEGs of edited photos, or the original RAW photos, I was heartbroken to see all my edits lost. Hours of editing and learning as I went, down the tubes.

Don’t get me wrong, Adobe has done some very seductive things – releasing Lightroom Mobile for iOS was incentive enough to upgrade my iPad to a 128GB with Retina display, so that I could truly have a very mobile-capable workflow. That it auto-magically synced my photos back to my Lightroom desktop catalogue is a huge advantage ! And bundling both Lightroom and Photoshop into a single monthly subscription is pretty darn valuable, IMHO.

Fast forward a couple of years. I stumble across a review of the MacPhun Luminar software, probably on PetPixel where Sharky James hosts an awesome weekly podcast (shameless plug !). So I figured it was time to look around the photo-editing landscape. Chris Gampat, editor of The Phoblographer, also raved over CaptureOne by Phase1. The more I dove into the subject, the more I came to realize that many professional photographers eschewed Lightroom and Photoshop ! How could this be ? 

I downloaded a free 30 day trial and was impressed by the difference. Starting with importing the RAW photos, which seemed to be much more brilliant than the same photos in Lightroom. While the interface is a little daunting, I dove right in & worked through about two dozen images. I like it an awful lot ! But now I have the hard decision – do I completely give up my mobile workflow in Lightroom (I really don’t use Photoshop very much, as I am still learning it) ? Can I justify abandoning Lightroom and Photoshop altogether ? Some photographers continue to use Lightroom for its cataloging capabilities, while importing & editing the RAW photos in CaptureOne. But then I’d be paying for two subscriptions, more than doubling my cost !

Sounds like I’m waffling all over the place, doesn’t it ? I think I’m at a “coming of age” moment in my journey as a photographer. Before I make any such decision, I need to start an undertaking I’ve been avoiding for a few months now. I need to cull my library ! As I said in the beginning, I’ve kept every photo, good, bad or horrific ! Most are unrated, with no keywords for searching. Frankly I have a quarter-terabyte mess to clean up. Whether I stay with Lightroom or migrate to CaptureOne, I need to do this. Wish me luck !