The wail of the newbie, announcing some sort of purity of image as it arrives SOOC, and without meaning to upset anyone, is utter tosh showing more a lack of understanding of the photographic process than an informed decision.
Now before anyone dashes off or starts a rant, let me explain. Camera manufacturers make cameras and associated products for money and the vast majority of people who buy cameras use them for family snaps, birthdays, holidays, and other family events. Nowadays, with advent of digital for capturing daily life for fun or as a memory of some event is most common.
The makers have tailored film and digital cameras over the years so that the user needs to know less and less as the camera is “Pre Programmed” and can get most times an acceptable image by pointing in the right general direction. Hence, with the cameras having a plethora of preset modes and various features, all compacts, many fully preset driven and also on entry level SLR/DSLR cameras, you need to get to the professional camera before you see the absence of pre set scene modes.
Photography is a very technical process and each stage of the creation process requires choices to be made. Each and every choice does affect the outcome of the final image this holds true for digital and traditional wet photography.
There are a number of stages regardless of what type of photography is used.
- Choice of camera and lens.
- Media type used to capture the image and processing employed to arrive at the final image.
The choices above will affect the final outcome, and the experienced photographer can determine the final image by making informed decisions at each stage of the process.
1. Choice of camera and lens
Digital or film/plate: The “look” and performance of the capture media sets your start point.
The lens: It’s quality and characteristics will affect things like contrast, colour and sharpness.
These choices will have a bearing on how the image is captured and by making good choices the best camera and lens combination can be used to get the initial image capture. For example a View camera may be used for studio or architecture, where good close control focus, DOF and perspective are paramount. This would be no good for wildlife photography where a fast long focal length lens and a small camera body would be a preference.
Already we have started to determine the final outcome by the equipment employed to make the initial image capture. Next is the medium used to capture the light.
2. Media type used to capture the image and processing employed to arrive at the final image.
There are two ways to capture the light either chemically or digitally now lets look at those
This is a more visual process as you use things you can see and can view the whole process albeit that at times the total lack of light may be required.
Things that affect the image recorded and there are many.
Choice of media and for this article Film covers any chemically developed media.
Colour Negative film
Black and White film Negative or Reversal
Colour Reversal Film (Slide film)
What characteristics do these have?
How are they processed?
To the book or:
Pushed or pulled
Alternative processing method
After this process as far as reversal films are concerned the processing is generally complete apart from how they are dealt with for the final viewing.
Negative films will need to go through a second print process and are affected by things like
Matt Satin Gloss Metallic
High low contrast
Colour rendition and dynamic range
Processing and chemicals used to develop the image
Setting used on the enlarger/printer
Unless shooting digital and saving only in raw format then the camera has many settings built into determine the final file created image file.
• Night portrait
• Flash off
• Movie *
• Program AE (P)
• Shutter priority AE (Tv)
• Aperture priority AE (Av)
• Manual (M)
• Auto depth-of-field
If you elect to shoot in raw then you can make the adjustments to the image file at any time and also produce image files with different settings rather than at the time of shooting for some the immediacy is important for others me included being able to edit a file later is my preference, for someone such as a press photographer then this wont be the case, a pro camera will have the capability to store several custom settings thet the photographer uses on a regular basis so can make settings changes quickly.
Be aware that using a preset and saving as jpeg any information not required at the time will not be saved in the image file so later it may not be possible to adjust the file as easily or more than likely if you do with loss of image quality.
There are many steps used to get to a final image and many choices made on the way either by the makers of the cameras and lenses, or the makers and processors of the print media.
When we talk about SOOC today we are speaking mainly in relation to digital cameras as film cameras cannot process the image but they make the all important image capture.
So if you accept straight out of camera (SOOC) then you accept the general settings arrived at by whatever method the various suppliers have determined give the most acceptable results in terms of image or maybe marketing spiel by most users most of the time these are not the same results as the best results that can be achieved by the optimum settings at the time of capture, or the most appropriate processing in camera.
If you get the right results for you by using the cameras presets then that is absolutely fine and if you use combination of in camera processing and post processing that is also OK as is shooting raw and carrying image processing in post production.
Using that tired expression at the end of the day……………………………
At the end of the day its the final result that matters, nobody apart from yourself and maybe a few fellow photographers give a damn what you did to get it and then only to copy what you did or tell you where you got it wrong, many non photographers will assume that the camera you used did it all for you and where can they get one……………………….and that is a whole different discussion.
There now that’s got that of my chest the above is not definitive just illustrative of what’s involved so bear that in mind if you decide to rip it apart 🙂
PS. Post production is not cheating without it there would not be a final image…………………….