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Sunday, October 1, 2006

The "Right Way"

Are you doing things correctly when working digitally? What does "correctly" mean, anyway?



What's right and what's wrong? No, I’m not going to get metaphysical with you. I want to talk about the right way to do things and the wrong way to do things in digital photography.

You'll hear a lot of talk in the magazines, on the Internet, in camera clubs and so on as photographers discuss what works and doesn't work with digital images. Some of this debate can be useful and a lot of it's a great deal of fun, but there's an element of it that can cause problems for a photographer. That's when it gets nasty and people make pronouncements about "right" and "wrong" as if they were Biblical issues.

I was recently talking to a friend who's an excellent nature photographer. He liked the good things about digital, such as the immediate image review, the ability to try new things quickly, the instant accessibility of photos and more. But he felt frustrated because doing what the digital "experts" said he "had to do" was just taking too much time and energy. Somehow, he felt unworthy for even thinking of doing something other than those experts' "right way."

I don't like being glued to the computer anymore than my friend (and no more than I liked processing film in the traditional darkroom), though I'm more tolerant of the process. Still, his experience brings up something a bit disturbing about digital photography—certain digital experts want to tell photographers they have to do things one way, the "right way," which, of course, is their way. They're uninterested in what most photographers really do, just in promoting their own way.

There's a joke about how many Photoshop experts it takes to screw in a light bulb. The answer is 100—one to screw in the light bulb and 99 to offer a different way of doing it. With that said, you might think that there would be a tolerance for different approaches to digital photography. We all do have different needs that aren't satisfied by one-stop shopping.


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