I have an ongoing ‘discussion’ with a family member who is not a fan of processing digital images. She prefers ‘pure’ images straight out of the camera. I get what she means but I also point out (the discussion takes the same direction every time) that the image on a phone or cheaper camera is almost always a jpeg. Which means that the raw image has already been processed. The difference is whether the camera makes the processing decisions or the person does.
There can be snobbery and inverse snobbery about processing images. Those who prefer minimal manipulation may be surprised to know that, even in the age of film, processing decisions were made. I remember seeing this when, I think it was, Magnum released contact sheets and annotated prints with instructions about visual effects.
However there can be snobbery too relating to how technical processing is perceived to be. For example, in an earlier blog I suggested the inclusion of filters in Instagram was essentially dumbing down. But in the immediately preceding post I lauded the provision of film effect Lightroom presets. Surely there is little difference between Instagram filters and Lightroom presets borrowed from others.
Today I was trying to grab a few shots between giving friends a lift home, working and dinner. Such is the life of a middle aged hobbyist. I look back on my wasted youth with envy. Why didn’t I buy a Leica in my 20s when I could have afforded one (maybe). Why didn’t I take street up phototgraphy when I actually still visited some of the world’s vibrant cities. Not that I’d change anything in the present, I’m glad with where I’ve ended up.
Anyway, I was messing around with Lightroom Presets. I used one that Eric Kim gave away years ago – it mimics fuji velvia 400. Now, I’d normally never crank up the contrast or reduce some of the saturation like this, but I was delighted with the results. This is pretty much the image in my head when I took the photo; the raw file looked nothing like it.
Hats off to Eric Kim for the preset and for giving it away for free. I suppose this shows one of the challenges and opportunies with digital. The raw sensor data gives pretty flat images, so you can shape it in thousands of ways. But you are limited by your imagination and willingness to spend time experimenting. With analogue much more was decided at the start by your film choice.
This image is my first processed using Lightroom.
Sadly Apple have decided to stop developing Aperture and when I recently upgraded my OS I was unable to use Aperture at all. So, I finally made the switch to Adobe. It’s hard to argue with one of the most successful brands of all time, but I don’t personally like Apple’s apparent ongoing abandonment of pro users.
First impressions, in my opinion Aperture was much more user friendly. But Lightroom seems like a pretty powerful tool and despite what I find an ugly interface it will do the job just fine.