Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Prairie Sunrise

Prairie Sunrise
Prairie Sunrise

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Get It Right In Camera

Photoshop and all its derivatives have revolutionized photo processing so much so that very few photographers including myself could hardly survive as such without it. I'd venture to say that Ansel Adams himself would love Photoshop and rightly so because when used within its magical abilities, photoshop will transform marginally exposed images into works of art.

Photoshop with all of its power has also created a lot of lazy photographers. Indeed, digital photography in general has contributed to that laziness with its instant gratification. I feel fortunate to have studied the basics of photography during the days of manual film cameras. For having done so I do believe has helped me become a stronger photographer across the entire spectrum of the art form. Oh I still have a lot to grasp and must in time continue to develop my technique so as to improve my skills, but having studied during the time when you had to get it right in camera before you ever saw the image has proven an invaluable asset.

As a result, even today with the versatility and advantages digital cameras provide, I still strive to get my images right in the camera before downloading for processing. There are several reasons why.

First of all, its just a force of habit. I am always thinking in terms of f-stop, aperture, ISO, shutter speed, lens selections, and composition. Digital cameras today make it relatively easy to get the shot close but I want more than close. I want it as close to dead on as I can get. It is amazing how often I hear someone say, 'I have a good camera...I just put it program mode and it gets everything right'. Most of the time I simply smile and ask what kind of camera they have. Remarks like that reveal how little the person understands what the camera is actually doing. To truly take advantage of the power inside that camera, you still have to understand what it is doing.

Secondly, by getting the shot right in camera, any post processing that must be done is simplified. The majority of the digital images I take require minimal post processing. A slight tweak of contrast and brightness, and small amount of sharpening, and an occasional touch of color correction, and I am done. Most pictures I can do in less than a minute with the exception of portraits which generally take longer because of the requirements to get the skin tones and softening correct.

Thirdly, I want to stay engaged with the photographic process. It is part of the craft of photography to think through the problem and apply the correct solution. It is like the difference between using a stamp to mechanically create something over and over, verses building it from scratch with your hands. The satisfaction level is so much greater and the quality of the finished product becomes readily evident.

Lastly, getting in right in camera is not unlike painting a beautiful picture on a blank piece of canvas using all the artistic techniques and tools to capture a unique moment in time. It certainly is more difficult, but the rewards are so much greater for having done so. It also allows you to become much more creative. When you understand what is happening and why the camera does what it does, you begin to bridge the gap between being a simple picture taker of things capturing xerox images of what you see to becoming someone who can visualize the end result before you ever release the shutter. That is what artist do, they create works of art that stir the soul. Striving to get it right in camera elevates your photography to that next level of understanding what it means to become an artitist.

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