#603. The Monday Post (05 June 2017) – Fast-photo

By philberphoto | Monday Post

Jun 06
[Pascal notes] It happens to the best and, apparently, it happens to us as well. Missing a date, that is. Or maybe that was intentional, in a post dedicated to going slow. Who knows … [/Pascal notes]



In the times of film photography, everything took time. From shooting, “slow photo”, by today’s standards, to development.



Now, everything needs to be fast! Cameras are fast. Any delay is an unwelcome irritation. Only instant chimping (viewing of your shot in the rear LCD) is fast enough.



Still, there remains one major irritant: the time that needs spending on post-processing. I, for one, spend “only” about 1 mn on a “standard” treatment, and I don’t really mind it. But imagine those who shoot more than me (basically, anyone I’ve ever met and shot with. While I talk a lot, I don’t shoot a lot. Maybe there is a connection here…), 1mn per shot is A LOT.



So it is hardly surprising that there is a quest for “how to do PP FAST,”.



Well, the obvious answer to that is: pay attention to your shooting, and you won’t need PP! Compose carefully, place focus exactly where you want it, optimize exposure, etc…



True enough, but it ain’t gonna work, because it means making your shooting slow again! Besides, there is much more to PP than “just” correcting shooting imperfections. Like adjusting contrast, white balance, etc.



Now, there is another way that is growing. Don’t do PP one feature at a time (exposure, or contrast, for example). Do it over the whole picture, or aportion of it, with one click. Is that quick enough for you?

How to do that? With “presets”, or equivalents.



Actually, there are lots more of those at play than most people realize. All those shooting JPEG see results that incorporate a preset. Each camera manufacturer “cooks” its JPEGs according to what each one feels its customers want in terms of sharpness, colours, contrast, etc…



Which is why some manufacturers are renowned for the quality of their JPEGS, and others reviled. And, no, I am not naming names here…



Then if you shoot RAW, most RAW processors offer “automatic” settings for the main variables, based on “what they believe to work best on average”. Does that remind you of Pascal’s bee in his bonnet for AI? Me too.



But now it goes further. You can get all manners of presets that let you apply a number of settings in one click. Typically, Fuji offer such presets emulating its former film profiles. You can also buy film presets for Adobe or Capture One.



But the fastest approach is that the PP software takes your whole shot and “suggests” any one of many looks that you may want applied to it. All you need to is to click on the one example of your choice and you get instant PP. Then repeat to try out more looks until you find the one that you really like. It can hardly get any quicker. Results vary, depending on your choices, from the subtle to the über-dramatic. From artistry (of sorts) to quackery. Change the sky, and/or the lighting, and/or the time of day, in a few clicks… Spectacular! Impressive!



Whether that is for you or not depends how much you like the various choices the software offers. I would name names of such software here, but can’t, as I have a conflict of interest. But Google means my discretion doesn’t mean you can’t find what I am talking about…:-)



Do I this trend succeeding? Definitely. Just as AF replaced MF except for DD (Diehard Dinosaurs). Sure AF is faster and more carefree, but MF is more precise. The same with auto-PP. Faster, and, if applied tastefully, definitely good enough.



But, for some, enough is never enough. Let’s keep photography great!



PS: with the exception of the first and last pics, all pictures here were taken in a (very) early morning walk in the delightful company of a friendly Aussie. In my book, not bad for 2 hours’ work. Better to concentrate on doing more of those than shaving seconds off PP IMHO.


PP has a short comment: Hi Philippe. Co-incidentally, I read an article yesterday – Richard Earney, being interviewed in OnLandscape #136 – where he talks of his membership of the Royal Photographic Society and his work towards his Fellowship. Not that that is relevant here, but the qualification mechanism definitely is.


He says; “… Fellowship is the highest Distinction the RPS can give, and it isn’t easy to get, which I guess is how it should be. The aim is to produce a panel of images which are on a theme and are in a category. In the last few years the categories have been altered a bit, so while my ARPS was in ‘Visual Art’, this category was changed shortly after to Visual Art – Creative (allowing Photoshop manipulation) and Visual Art – Pictorial (everything in camera)… It must be accompanied by a statement of intent of up to 150 words and a printout of the successful Associate panel so that the judges know that you have produced different work and that you have progressed in your image making.”


So, if you’re really serious about your work, post processing is likely to become less rather than more important. Not good news for our software developers?


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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Sigh – the international clock has given me the poll position on Comments, once again. When I’m behaving, I deliberately put DS aside for several days, to give the rest of the readers a chance to get in first. But no matter – the prize I win, each time, is that my comments disappear down to the bottom and are never seen again – buried alive by more erudite comments from everyone else.

    So – for what it’s worth – I’ve just snuck through France with my wife and, as Pascal can tell you, come home with a small piece of France in my pocket. My wife shoots on a totally automatic Olympus god-knows-what, it’s too old to be any catalogues any longer, and I imagine the sensor is about 3/4 of an MP, the colour gamut is deplorable, and she dumps the task of PP on me, when we return from one of these outings.

    I, on the other hand, am a died-in-the-wool (LOL – very Australian, that description!) incurable impenitent MF DD, shooting FF with fixed focal length Otuses because I love the accuracy of the tonal range. Occasionally while at home, I fool around with a Canon PowerShot, which does NOT have an equally accurate tonal range, but makes up for it in the shots I use it for, with a slightly richer colour gamut.

    Then comes PP. And here there’s one of those Mars/Venus divides, between us.

    These days, shooting FF/RAW/MF/Otus, PP is usually perfunctory. “She” has a hangup about wrinkles, so shots of my wife get a bit of “treatment” in PS. Mostly, the biggest “fixes” I need to make are fine tuning the horizon line, fixing verticals on buildings etc in DxO ViewPoint and some cropping. Occasionally, when I have been pushing my luck, I need to get in there and lighten something in a particular shot – sometimes I use LR/PS to convert a couple of shots into a panorama – and if I take a particular dislike to some of the stage prop human figures or whatever, I remove them. But PP is no longer a chore.

    Until the shots from the Olympus turn up. That said, I love my wife – we met at a time when we were on opposite sides of the fence, in business – became “best friends” – and then I discovered I had fallen in love with my best friend, so we shot across to France and married in Paris, with the wedding photos using the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero Fountain as the backdrop. I used my one free “un-destination exemption card” for that, because in the circumstances I found it impossible to resist using tourist icons as stage props in all the photos.

    So I roll up my shirt sleeves, turn on the computer, the EIZO monitor, and the full range of PP software, to convert pigs ears into silk purses, and make “photos” out of the material that downloads from the Olympus. While you all tear this topic apart, I am facing months of YIN and YANG, of PP-free output from my gear and PP-drowning-up-to-the-eyeballs output from her beloved Olympus. Which I do willingly and cheerfully, without complaining – because I love her so much, nothing is too much trouble. If it was me and they were my photos, I am damned if I’d do it – I’d leave the camera responsible for it in a St Vincent de Paul bin for the less fortunate and go get a decent camera, instead.

    There is one PS to all of this rant. It is ONLY when you print your photos that you really see them for what they are. You can do whatever you like on a screen – but the light transmission characteristics of every screen you do it on will differ from every other screen on the planet. When you finish PP or whatever, and ship your work around the net, or email or SMS it to your friends or great-aunt Matilde, the screens on which it is viewed by the next person will likely differ markedly from what you imagine you were sending, and sometimes the difference is so great that it’s a complete waste of time. Plus one – if the disc drive goes, or technology changes mean you can’t open the files you created 10 years back, you get the chance to start over, with NO photos at all.

    Had you printed them, none of the previous paragraph has any further relevance. So I have added printing all my photos to my job description as a DD – at my age it is far simpler to retain my status as a dinosaur than pole vault into the murky world inhabited by people brandishing cellphones on telescopic selfie sticks, and stand around photographing themselves when, if they looked over their should, they would have found something like the Taj Mahal bathed in the pink light of a rich sunset, that they could have photographed instead – and leaning against a lamp post tapping SMS’s to people they are no longer capable of talking to because they spend their entire lives tapping SMS’s to people they never speak to – or straying in front of traffic, doing the same thing – producing zillions of “photographs” that never emerge from their eerie electronic universe, never see the light of day, and will cease to exist in a few years time (like 5 inch floppy discs did – and 3.5 inch floppies – and 8 track tapes – and VHS – and now, seemingly, CDs). So that in another 50 years, there will be almost no surviving record of civilization in western countries, for the first time in the whole of human history.

    When I finish breakfast tomorrow, I’m off to my camera store for more ink and paper. 🙂

    • Adrian says:

      One could argue that if much photography was lost, it would be a good thing, rather than a legacy of selfies taken 100 times to be perfect and endless snaps of food. More photos are talen now than ever before, and the vast majority of them aren’t worth seeing, so frankly if they ended up in digital landfill it would do the world a favour. Alas, the flotsam and jetsam of social media will probably be what survives, and all the interesting and worthwhile photography will be lost on PC hard drives sent for recycling.

      Printing is definitely a good suggestion that I wholeheartedly agree with (I print to self published books for trips or themes), but many of us amas so much work there is a limit to how much can be printed out and displayed. For example, I have amassed several Tb of competition photographs from.events over several.years, and I have no idea what to do with them as they gather digital dust on my hard drive. Some get shared on social media, a few get printed, and the rest never see the light of day. I wish I had the answer.

      • pascaljappy says:

        Couldn’t agree more, Adrian ! And I think that applies to more than bad selfies (yes, I do believe there are good selfies out there 😉 )

        I’ve stopped backing up my photographs, this is how I deal with volume. Those I feel are good enough to show end up in low res on this website. The exceptional very good shot gets printed on something durable. We should never cling to the past or seek an ego boost from what was usuall more a privilege (visiting a distant land, being present at a memorable event …) than a contribution to the world’s well being. I’ve lost photographs, it just encourages me to make more. Better.

        Of course, my photography is amateur hobby. It’s very different for a pro or semi pro, or an artist project or …

  • Fabrizio Giudici says:

    Post-processing can be a problem, indeed. Especially between 2009 and 2011 I had a laptop that was somewhat old with respect to the state of the art (in spite of being a software engineer, the most demanding use of my laptop is related to… photography) and in particular the comparison of photos was slow. I use to shoot a lot of variants for some subjects, so in the end I was unable to complete pruning for that years… I’m slowly catching up. Lesson learned, and I accepted to spend some more money (subtracting them from the camera/lens budget) to keep my laptop at a good level. Still with some difficulty, but I’m being able to keep up PP with my shooting.

    The number of taken photos _is_ an issue. On average I have 2000 keepers per year, but many are “postcards”. And I’m publishing about 800/900 of them per year (clearly some “postcards” are still part of this selection). This is partly due to the fact that I started my website with the idea of sharing photos with an inner circle of friends, and there were many “travel postcards” intended as a sort of documentation about where I spent some time – they made sense. But I do need to learn to be more selective – I’ve had in mind for years the idea of creating a second website, where “travel postcards” would be banned. I agree that printing is an excellent criterium for doing an effective selection. The problem is that I started by printing on my own – happy with the results – but the process is too slow. I’ve searched for printing labs, and I had some good experience in being able to calibrate and have photos which match colours, but unfortunately so far I’ve found labs with acceptable prices only for glossy paper, while I like matte. Matte options are still too expensive. I’ve started to thinking about Adrian’s solution, that is making photo books – but, again, I find them a bit too expensive. Maybe we can share our findings about those services?

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Fabrizio, that’s a good idea. We’ll post something about printing services to see what information readers have about what is available. Should be interesting !!

  • Per Kylberg says:

    Beautiful shots, that very early morning lighting……
    Speed and not having to wait is normally a good thing. But I spend as much time on composing the image using digital camera as with film ditto. Post processing: An asset not a problem. Great to be able to look through images directly after a shoot. In the old darkroom everything was SLOW and if you made a mistake – restart from the beginning. As I target large prints I spend time on just a few images. “Not so good” exposures are thrown away at an early stage. There is a long way before that great large print is made. A few test small test prints. I do many small adjustments, some global. Local adjustments are the most important ones that really lifts the result. I have images with close to 20 small, local adjustments. Learned from mother, a pro portrait photographer. her discussions with the copyist over a single image learned me a lot.
    -But there are many ways to make an image, as well as many kinds of photography……
    (That Royal whatever rules: Makes me laugh!)

  • John Wilson says:

    Call me a heretic, nut bar, incurable neurotic … whatever. I LIKE PP. I LIKE PRINTING. I loved what little time I got to spend in a darkroom doing all that alchemy and ending up with a print. Now I get to do it digitally at 4am or whenever I please. I totally agree with the concept of “slow photography” and getting it right in the camera. But ultimately, the camera is a data capture device; its what you do with the data that counts, and that often means … wait for it … Post Processing. I do use presets as a first step to see what’s there tonally, but have spent many hours over many weeks resolving some intractable problem with an image i thought worth saving. Plus … I do a lot of BW and, short of a colour lobotomy, the camera is an incurable colourholic. That means lots of PP. Going from colour to BW is not a one to one translation, but an exercise in tonal interpretation. That takes time. I just got back from a 10 day photo trip with 2000+ images in the file (does 200 exposures a day qualify as “slow”??). Maybe 100 will get the full treatment and maybe 20 will see the light of day … but I won’t be bored for months to come.

    • Steffen says:

      Same here! I like post-processing. It relaxes me. It’s my Zen.

      Not that I spend more than 3 min on an average image. But post-processing belongs to photography like actual taking the shot or editing. Everyone who does not invest into post-processing really misse one essential part of the whole process and the opportunity to work out the final touch.

      The same is true for all the JPG shooters and OOC fanatics. I get their point, their laziness. But for me it’s like saying “I want to shoot but don’t want to focus”. Well, sorry! That’s part of the job! 20 years ago we stood in the darkroom to do our post-processing. It’s the same, it always belonged to the process.

  • Philippe Berend says:

    Steffen, John, my intent wasn’t that “goodPP is fast PP”. Merely that that is the growing trend. And that, like AF today dwarfs MF, auto-PP (amusingly the acronym is APP) could soon dwarf MPP…. In my case, I am one of the DDs i refer to (Diehard Dinosaur), so I am a lost cause…:-)

    • pascaljappy says:

      Let’s start a club of that dying breed Philippe 😉

      Adams wrote that the negative was the score and the print was the interpretation. As soon as we resort to auto-PP, we are listening to a machine playing Schubert’s most intimate poetry. I’m with the dinausors on that one …

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