All the lost souls

All the lost souls – Today I was involved in, let’s say “discussion” with an avid “amateur” photographer who had some really impressive images in a collection of work. He had been so proud to show me as he has been inspired by some of the projects I have worked on in my hometown outside of the wildlife and nature photography arena and hoped I could add some value to his work and thought process. Naturally, I asked him about the experience and how he had enjoyed it. He had lots of great things to say about a ‘professional” that had assisted him and helped along the way. He asked for my opinion and this is where the poo hit the industrial and proverbial fan…….

Having learned that I sometimes come across very brash and some actually say arrogantly aggressive :), I chose a very quiet and complimentary manner to give constructive criticism on composition and the actual images themselves. All was going well, and then I mentioned that they looked a little flat and that with some TLC in the free software he had got with his camera, they would pop and have even more impact……..

The next moment, I saw the look of utter disgust on his face and the tension in the air could be cut with a razor blade. I DO NOT NEED TO PHOTOSHOP MY IMAGES…. I DO IT RIGHT IN CAMERA. A short silence followed and he then proceeds to explain to me that images captured correctly in the camera do not need any other work done to them. The “professional” he had been working with had made this extremely clear …….

A host of emotions rushed through me when he said this but I for once managed to bit my tongue and politely tell him that that is not the case and that all images need development, even if you shoot RAW or JPG. As he started to get a little more postured at the table, I said to him that I would like to show him practically what I mean and then he could see the value to using what I call the basic Image development in a digital DARKROOM. For those that are too young to remember, this is what the definition of a dark room is, and what one did in a darkroom.

Photographic processing or development is the chemical means by which photographic film or paper is treated after photographic exposure to produce a negative or positive image. Photographic processing transforms the latent image into a visible image, makes this permanent and renders it insensitive to light.

The Darkroom: a room with no light or with a safelight for developing light-sensitive photographic materials

So in the Digital era, let us say that our Darkroom is our computer and the development of chemicals and tools are our image development software. I will purposely exclude PHOTOSHOP her as that’s, not singularly a photographic editing suite, but also more a Creative Platform for digital artists.

I opened my MacBook and selected an image from a recent trip to the Kgalagadi which I had captured in some tricky lighting conditions. It was possible to show him accurately and without any “witchcraft” (thanks, Richard) what he could achieve with not much more than the simple settings in his camera and in his camera editing software (In this case it is the free DPP – Digital Photo Professional 4 from CANON Inc )

The key here is explaining to him what the “neutral” picture style is that most cameras are set to standard for the JPG images and that is equivalent to what a raw image would look like. The next, was to show how using an in-camera picture style setting could improve the image quality of his JPG (this does NOT affect the raw file if you shoot in RAW), and lastly how with some minor tweaking he could extract even more using a more advanced software package, Lightroom CC.

So here we go and this is what I showed him is what is possible and should be part of EVERY photographer’s workflow!


The RAW or Neutral JPG straight out of a camera


In Camera picture style set to custom settings ( Saturation / Sharpness / Contrast) – In Camera JPG


Image editing in Lightroom CC with basic development steps


So, in the end, I managed to show the gentleman the massive benefits of “developing” his digital image. You do have to use the camera to get the correct exposure, composition and facilitate your own creative vision. What is the moral of the story you may ask as far as I am concerned…..

  • ALL digital images need some form of development (If you won’t or cant except this then consider taking up a new hobby)
  • “Professional” photographers should understand the principles of photography and logic before forcing irrelevant drivel on clients and aspiring photographers
  • “Professional” and “Social Media Legends” Should respect and help someone grow into their passion without dictating their direction
  • To all “Photographers”, don’t form your opinion/desire /knowledge  off only one single inspiring photographer but be open-minded and find what works for you and gives you your own style across the wonderful wild world of digital
  • A little bit of magic can go a LONG way and make your work stand out amongst the crowd.
  • Live in the now and see what the benefits are to improving yourself instead of sticking your head in the sand as a “Photographer”

The above points, notes, and facts are my own opinion and ramblings. They have not directed at that one specific photographer anymore, but to all who share, inspire and mentor……

Thanks for taking the time to read the ramblings and my latest blog post.

Peace and Light – AA