The enjoyment I get from photography can essentially be split into two parts.
About 75% is the experience of exploring somewhere out in the countryside with a camera. The other 25% is having the final result, or image.
This proportion does fluctuate, for example more than once I’ve shot a whole roll of film only to realise the leader hadn’t caught properly and not a single frame had been captured.
The lack of any final photos did not diminish the experience I had of finding, framing and capturing (at least in my mind) the 24 images.
On those occasions the enjoyment came down to 100% experience, 0% result.
Because the result is at best 25% of the overall purpose of photography, once the experience part is over, I’m keen to get that final image with as little fuss as possible.
Which is why my feelings toward post processing veer between indifference and loathing.
Since discovering the fabulous little Ricohs, I’ve been looking at ways to reduce post processing time.
I’m at a point now where if I shoot RAW, I have a standard (b/w) preset I apply in LightRoom to get the images roughly how I want them to look, with only minor further tweaking needed here and there.
But with this I still end up with a set of RAW files, a set of out of camera JPEGs and a set of LightRoom exported JPEGs, which was all a bit messy and takes more time organising on my MacBook – and accessing when I want to share them afterwards.
So I then evolved the process into using JPEGs only (not RAW+JPEG), set to b/w in camera, with the contrast boosted a little and the exposure compensation down a little to help avoid blown highlights.
Using this, I then only need a very subtle preset in LightRoom to notch up the contrast a fraction, then I adjust the exposure if needed too.
Pleasingly, this process probably now takes about 20 seconds per photograph.
I wondered though if I could streamline it further still, and have zero processing, yet still get images I’m really happy with.
I could just use the in camera b/w JPEGs as above and do nothing more, but that extra nudge of the contrast and/or exposure in LightRoom still makes it worth it for the “improvement” of the final image.
Then I remembered the “High Contrast B&W” (let’s called it HCBW) scene mode in the Ricoh GRD III.
Now usually I avoid any kind of scene modes on digital cameras, as they rarely give natural enough looking photos (ending up looking far too digital and sterile) plus don’t allow enough control over anything else. So one aspect or other (ISO, aperture, shutter speed, contrast etc) always seems to be wrong, with no way of changing it after the image is made.
But this being a Ricoh camera, you can keep all the other settings intact and under your control, plus within the HCBW scene you can also adjust the level of contrast (MAX, -1, -2) and vignetting (Off, Weak, Strong).
Plus you can tell the camera to also capture a standard JPEG of the scene simultaneously, should you wish to have a colour version to edit afterwards too. Also being a Ricoh, once you have all this set, you can save it to one of the “MY” modes on the dial. Let joy be unconfined!
So this is what I did, set the contrast to -1, vignetting off, and all my other settings to my normal preferences I’ve found work best for me with the GRD III.
Then I went out shooting this morning using the HCBW mode only, to see how the photographs would come out.
The result is I’m more than happy with them. All of the images in this post are from this photowalk.
I still have the option of shooting the standard b/w mode JPEGs if/when I want to, and the full RAW & JPEG option too.
But for the foreseeable future, using the HCBW mode as I’ve now set it up seems like a very enticing option to give me very pleasing (to me) photographs with zero processing.
The major benefit being an even greater proportion of my overall photography time will now be spent out shooting photographs, not hunched over my MacBook applying and tweaking presets to them afterwards, and organising multiple versions of each image.
How much time do you spend processing your photographs (which includes developing, with film photography), and how much do you enjoy it?
Please let us know in the comments below (oh and be sure to tick “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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