In recent years I’ve simplified my photography, not least of all in how I process photographs I make.
In the past I shot RAW with a DSLR and processed using custom presets in LightRoom.
This became too time consuming and complex, and I evolved to using Hipstamatic, with an iPhone and iPad.
The Hipstamatic approach was far simpler and quicker, but I wasn’t so keen on how the app was set up with its film, lens and flash parameters.
Whilst I could get end results I really liked, and there was some scope to tweak further, it was more random luck than I’d stumble across a particular combination of film, lens and flash that gave me a look I enjoyed.
I wanted to better understand how to get close to the overall look in the first place, rather than it being a random happening that couldn’t be consistently reproduced.
So my next phase was trying Snapseed.
This gave a similar output to Hipstamatic, and whilst it does have features with names such as Retrolux, Vintage and Grunge, it also allows very simple and direct adjustment of more logical parameters, like Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and Warmth.
I could use these in a far more informed way, knowing which slider to adjust if I wanted more brightness, contrast, saturation or warmth, in a way I couldn’t with Hipstamatic.
I set up three main b/w presets in Snapseed, with different degrees of contrast and drama, and have used these for pretty much all photographs made with my Xperia phone and a dozen or more digital cameras that don’t have enough adjustment in camera to achieve such a final result.
Which is all great.
But even with the ease and control of Snapseed, I still knew that when I made the picture in camera, I would have this post processing stage later on.
Plus I also knew I would have a set of original images saved, then a set of processed images, and the decision to either save both, or just the processed ones.
Now none of this is especially time consuming or difficult. But it’s just not a part of photography I’m that interested in.
If I can avoid it altogether – both the post processing and the reorganising and additional backing up of the resultant images – then I will.
This means more of my limited photography time can be spent actually out using cameras, rather than allocating some of it to post processing and file organising.
So I have a few cameras now that I’ve chosen partly for their in camera processing abilities, to enable me to avoid the post processing hoopla.
Whilst each of the cameras’ specific settings are slightly different, the principle of setting them up is much the same.
My Ricoh GRD III, Panasonic Lumix LX3, Panasonic Lumix GF1, Pentax Q and Nikon Coolpix P300 all have some kind of dynamic, high contrast b/w mode, which then has further fine adjustment.
I apply a few other subtle adjustments to help avoid any post processing, depending on the camera.
For example saving a default exposure compensation (usually -0.3 or -0.7) to reduce the likelihood of blown highlights.
Taking the time to experiment with a camera initially for a few hundred photographs (or more), to find the set up that gives me the best results straight out of camera, is fun in itself, and saves me hours in the long run in post processing.
Which gives that time back to the core elements of photography I love – exploring out in nature with a camera I greatly enjoy using.
One final part to mention.
Not all cameras of course will have the ability to create the photos you want purely with in camera settings.
So part of this experimentation is finding the cameras that do have enough depth of adjustment for your needs – and crucially the ability to save them in some kind of custom memory, so you’re not back the factory defaults every time.
Then the second level of experimenting is within a particular camera, setting it up just how you like it.
I have a few cameras that don’t have enough adjustment in camera, like the Lumix FX10 I used last month, so I defaulted to using Snapseed to process these images.
But this isn’t something I plan to do often going forward, and haven’t needed to with the Ricoh GRD III I’m using this month.
So this is how I do all of my post processing before I even release the shutter.
How about you? Do you enjoy post processing or try to avoid it?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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