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Saturday, January 1, 2005

Keeping The "Phun" In Photography

Use a digital workflow that works for you

Keeping The One of the reasons I've been photographing since I was a kid is because it's fun. I'm guessing that's why you enjoy the medium, too, and why you read a photo magazine. Digital photography, especially, has reinvigorated the craft, restoring the fun I had when I first started taking pictures. Anyone who has known me for a while knows that when I'm excited about something, I like to share it with everyone. With that in mind, I'd like to help you use the new technology for digital photography without the fear of doing it right or wrong, but just to have fun with the process. You really can't screw it up. If you take a poor picture, you can see it immediately in the LCD. No harm done; just delete the shot and try again. Not sure how to use a histogram? Try some different exposures of the same scene and compare the histograms and see what happens. Photography is a visual medium; the LCD makes digital technology visual, too.

I use a different workflow from many of the digital gurus because it makes the process more enjoyable for me and I'm more confident of my results. Some would tell you using this approach is all wrong, yet I know from experience that some of these gurus backpedal when talking to me about it. I'm not trying to make them change their workflow, but I'd like them to acknowledge that sometimes simpler workflows are more fun and work perfectly fine for photographers.

I'm not after cheap shortcuts that will cause a decrease in quality—I want the best-quality images I can get, but not at the expense of having fun and enjoying the journey. Years ago, I loved printing my own black-and-white photos, but I hated developing film. Yet I knew folks who mixed their own chemicals for developing—a waste of time and energy for me, but it was fun for them.

I have no problem with anyone advising a digital workflow that's more complicated than mine, as long as they don't tell me and everyone else that we all have to do it the same way. Because digital is still relatively new, there are folks who will sincerely tell you that the only way to work is their way, and it's easy to get caught up in that. If their way does indeed make your photos visibly better and you enjoy the process, then that way is perfect for you. If it doesn't, however, it's time to look at alternatives. Photographers shouldn't give up or get frustrated because they can't do it the "right" way.

There are a number of successful ways to work with digital, just as there's more than one way to deal with film (especially black-and-white). I admit that I'm just not interested in shooting RAW all the time and that Adobe RGB won't necessarily make me a better photographer. My workflow includes neither as a regular process. You've seen my photos in OP. Can you tell the difference?

This doesn't mean photographers who regularly use RAW and Adobe RGB don't find great value in them, however. They're important digital technologies and can be useful for those who need them. But in spite of a lot of rhetoric from some experts, these processes aren't essential or even crucial for producing high-quality digital images.

I've done some testing and talked with individuals at printer manufacturers. Let's start with Adobe RGB. While it can be an indispensable color space for photographers who need it, I'm not convinced that it's the best way for everyone to go. Adobe RGB images typically come into the computer looking duller and less like the color film photographers are used to working with.


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