S.O.O.C. (straight out of camera)

Hi Folks:

This is a short (for me) and somewhat tongue-in-cheek rant because I always find it amusing when I see people post images they’ve made on the various social networking sites, along with comments that say, “No Lightroom!  No Aperture!  No Photoshop!  No iPhoto! No _____!” as if it’s a badge of honour they THEY do not stoop to post-processing their images.  I find it funny because it’s also completely false.

“The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth” ~ Richard Avedon

A while back we did a ‘Do You Manipulate Your Images‘ post, and as mentioned in a similar article by photographer Alain Briot, “Just Say Yes.”  The bottom line is that every digital image is ‘processed’ after you click the shutter.  Digital camera images all begin as RAW data accumulated from the sensor, and they’re then presented to the user in one of two ways: either as a ‘RAW’ file, or as a .jpg file.  Even the preview image on the camera’s LCD screen is a .jpg image generated from the RAW image data as it’s processed.  Depending on the camera (and your preferences), you can either import the RAW files into your computer and use one of the various RAW converter software programs to convert the single-channel RAW data into a usable 3-channel RGB image file, or you can work directly with the .jpg image that is created by the camera.  But (and you knew there had to be a but there), even if you’re working with the .jpg file (and doing nothing else to it), you’ve already told the camera what white balance, contrast, sharpening, colour/B&W algorithm and other parameters to add to the image before it presents it to you. You’re either doing this intentionally using the settings available in your camera, or you’re doing it unintentionally by using a scene mode. There are only really two options. Either you’re using the processing power of your camera and algorithms designed by the camera company to process your images, or you’re using the processing power of your computer and your own skills to process your images.

Even in the film days photographers knew that Kodachrome 25 would look different than Ektachrome 64, that Fuji Superia would provide different results than Kodak Portra, or even that Ilford HP4 processed this way in this developer would look different than if it was processed differently. Before that, well, people were making their own photographic plates, and I’d hate to guess the number of ‘recipes’ there were.  We haven’t begun to touch the intricacies of printing.  For those who eschew digital in favour of film and who then scan their negatives, well, a digital file is a digital file, no matter the source.

I’m not going to suggest that one way is right or wrong, or even that this way is better or worse than that way.  It’s entirely up to you, and that, if anything, is the point of all this..  It’s all about making the best use of the tools that you have to gain the results that look right to you, but I would suggest you take the time to understand what’s happening when you click the shutter!  End of rant.  🙂

Now go out and make some photographs!


5 Replies to “S.O.O.C. (straight out of camera)”

  1. Rob

    But, what I want to know is whether or not your rant was edited using Spell Checker and Grammar Checker? You know,… more tools used to modify something you've captured in an artistic medium, allowing you to fine tune it until it was exactly what you wanted to share with the world in the first place.

    1. wolfnowl Post author

      Fortunately, I learned both grammar and spelling in school, so (for the most part), those tools are unnecessary for me. Besides, I have an excellent editor/ proofreader! 😉


  2. Barbara Watson

    I totally agree. In the digital world, accepting a jpg image S.O.O.C. is akin to being happy with a polaroid photo in the days of film. Nowadays, the computer is our darkroom and the software is our chemicals. Those who brag about not touching their photos are just being lazy or don't know how to use the software, in my opinion.

    1. wolfnowl Post author

      Hi Barbara, and thanks for dropping by our little corner of the ‘net! Fortunately the photographic world is big enough to allow for those who shoot Polaroids or lomographs, Instagram, tintypes and paper negatives… even those who, by choice or ignorance, use the images as offered up by their cameras! 😉 Mike.

  3. wolfnowl Post author

    Hi There: Perhaps I didn't explain myself properly in the post. There are people today making images using pinhole cameras, instant print (Polaroid cameras), film cameras from disposables to large format, and a wide variety of digital cameras. I don't think one way is 'better' than any other. People often ask, "Is it the camera or the photographer?" and my answer is that it's always both. I wouldn't expect to make the same types of images with a Holga or a cell phone camera than I would with an Alpa Max and a Phase One IQ280 back. Any camera can be used to make interesting images. The point of my post is that ALL images are manipulated to some extent based on composition/ framing, exposure, etc. and ALL digital images undergo some form of post-processing. The only differences lie in the choices made by the photographer. If you make a raw image and process it using Lightroom or Bibble or Capture NX2 then you're using the power of your computer to process your images. If you set your camera to make .jpg images then you're relying on the skills and choices of the engineer who wrote the software for the camera to make those choices for you. If you make a film image and then scan it into your computer, it's now a digital image. It's not a question of 'right' or 'wrong' only the choices we each make. Being aware of the choices we have to make is what the post is all about.

    Thanks for dropping by our site!


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