Old film guys did not say "I will fix that in post".
I remember a time, when I could afford one roll of Kodachrome. Just thirty-six frames of film, so every shot needed to count.
I remember a time, when I could out wait the lion at the zoo, till he finally turned his majestic body, walked my direction, raised his flowing mane covered head and for just a split second looked straight at me through my lens with his piercing gold eyes.
I remember a time, when I could out wait a blue-eyed toddler for that same connected moment.
You might ask if I also hiked to school in the winter when it was sub-zero; ice and snow blowing into my face; three miles uphill in both directions. Sure, probably.
Early on, in the transition from film to digital, an instructor stated, you can't just take a bunch of digital photos and hope one of them turns out to be interesting or good. You can't just shoot hoping for a lucky accident. But, the truth is, that is exactly what you can do with digital. There is even a special coined phrase for this called "spray and pray".
Truth is, you don't need to wait for your moment. You don't need to wait at all. Shoot a bunch of stuff and create composites of the photos you would have rather taken. It's digital. You can fix it in post.
And, then one day, you are taking a photo and you see that there is a coffee cup sitting in the background and think "I can fix that in post". There is a piece of trash on the ground: "i can fix that in post". The background isn't exactly the way you want it. The light isn't perfect. The sunset isn't pink enough. The sky doesn't have clouds. One of the children had his head turned. The model has a blemish. You wanted flying dinosaurs. Wouldn't it be great if that person in the red coat was breathing fire? Or better yet, breathing fire while wearing a kilt and dancing on top of a circus ball like one of those performing dogs. No worries. I CAN FIX THAT IN POST!!!!!
Or, and don't take this the wrong way, you could fix it now.
There was a point, where I lost my film eye and trusted the digital ways. I saw that something in the frame was not right and instead of taking the few moments to correct the problem, my brain skipped right over that and in my head I heard, I can fix that in post. I wasn't even aware anymore that I was saying this. And the truth is, I could fix that in post.
So what's my point?
My point is this. When post production became my crutch, I became crippled by it. And when I realized how much time I was spending in post production, I began to wonder, if I was really putting in my best work. Was i? I didn't think so. So I took a breath and went back to photography using both what I had learned shooting film and what I knew I could do in digital manipulation in post production.
A few months later, I came in from a shoot and loaded my RAW images into Lightroom and was starting to work on the first photo when I realized there was nothing to do. The photo didn't require anything. The light was perfect. The color was perfect. The photos were exactly what I meant to shoot, the way I meant to shoot it. My hand was twitching to get to work on the sliders, but there was nothing to fix in post.
Post production takes up a lot less of my time now. When I see something that needs to be fixed on location, my first instinct is to stop and fix it. If it isn't possible, I look to see if there is a better angle or a better location that doesn't include that problem. And my LAST resort now is to choose to take a photo I know I will need to fix in post.
My photography is now more deliberate. Not counting on post processing, has made the experience better for me. I am more focused, more present and more aware and that has lead to catching better moments. I take exactly the photograph I see in my head. I have time to wait for the exact moment when the subject connects to me through the camera. And, I still have spare time, because I am not bogged down plowing my way through a mountain of post production tweaks and fixes. A mountain this is always three miles uphill in both directions.
Just something to consider. If you spend hours digitally correcting your photographs and manipulating your images, maybe you want to try something new by trying something old. Take a breath, be more deliberate, find your moment and try taking exactly the photograph you want to take.
After that, we can meet up for coffee while the other digital photographers are spending their time fixing their work in post.
Photo Challenge: Taking it Old School
For this challenge, you get 36 shots.
Choose an afternoon adventure. Invite a friend. Capture a best of your day in just 36 shots.
This might be so much harder than you think, but it will certainly challenge you to really look at what you are shooting. Frame it carefully. Shoot it once.
Bonus: You can create a collage of your 36 shots and post it to our Facebook page: Photo Society MD/VA/DC Local residency is not a requirement of this group. There is currently no annual membership fee. (March 2019)