Getting It Right in Camera

It’s purists vs. pragmatists — is it possible to shoot something “correctly” in the camera without post-processing? Not a friend of post-processing, I prefer to rely on the camera’s processing — which in itself is already a form of post-processing. Now here’s a telling Adorama video on the necessity of post-production. The camera, however, can get pretty darn close, concludes host Mark Wallace.

Here’s a bunch of testing, your’s to decide. There’s no way around post-production to really bring out a photograph? For instance, you don’t get absolute blacks and absolute whites in camera.

You have to do the best you possibly can to get the best out of camera, but especially in commercial photography: there’s no photograph without heavy post-production. There’s no ad that’s shot right in the camera.

Still, call me irreformable. As a photojournalist I try to get it right in camera. Couldn’t sell much if I’d depend on post-processing. It’s all about fast, reliable output. About the moment, isn’t it.

  • Bengt Nyman

    Great ! Thanks ! Agreed. I get about one shot in a hundred where I feel that I should do nothing at all to it in post production.

  • That’s my theory and practice, to get it right in the camera, and to avoid any spray and pray. It makes me closer to the decisive instant. I do allow minimal cropping and sharpening if needed.

    But I am not a commercial photographer so if I miss an image I can start again.

    Do visit my new blog:

    ‘Photo & Poetry’

  • Great link!

    Speaking of this article’s topic, add the fact that in “real” life there’s no absolute black and white.

  • Gloria Esteban

    “About one in a hundred in my case…”

    Hmm, maybe a time to re-visit oneself’s technique?

  • Bengt Nyman

    Not at all. It depends on how critical you are. Watch the video above !

  • Among the blogs you quoted I read one about New Pictorialism. It is interesting because it is a developing Social trend. I myself I am not averse to using the Oly ‘Art Filters’.

    It’s really that I prefer the hunting to the cooking. If FW does it for me, fine. After all shooting B&W is a radical choice in contemporary times.

    Being minimalist however will strain less the relation to reality that you share with the viewer, the old covenant so to say.

  • Gloria Esteban

    Oh yes I’m critical alright, but have many more than ‘one in a hundred’ successful shots.

  • Bengt Nyman

    That’s not the point. I doubt that Mark Wallace or I would accept more than one in a hundred of your shots as final images.

  • Certainly it is possible to get keepers by training and concentration. It is not by accident that the Decisive Instant was compared to the Art of Archery.

    It is also much more fun than getting old on a computer keyboard.

    Shooting slides as a journalist probably helped me to get the hang of it. Now with a mirrorless it is many times easier, because one gets visual feedback in advance.

  • B. D. Colen

    Certainly the goal is to get the best image possible out of the camera, but except for hobbyists shooting slides to show at the camera club, photography has always involved “post processing.”

  • Some quality responses in this thread, but couldn’t disagree more with you, B.D.

    Two samples.

    Olympics. The audience doesn’t want post-processed photographs. They want something that looks as close to “reality” as possible. And there’s simply no time to do more than the basic adjustments, otherwise the competition’s always faster.

    Secondly, when reviewing and testing gear, some photography site’s sample images always look the same, whether the samples are shot with an iPhone or D4… Well these photos look great! But they say more about the photographer than the camera. Post-processing to the point of drowning a camera’s character and style, I try to avoid this on THEME.

    In the past when testing a camera I adjusted photographs to make them look “nicer.” Most look great with film filters applied. Since some time readers get what’s straight out of camera with standard settings. Will be the same with the Fujifilm X-T1 I just picked up. I could make this Fujifilm look like any camera, but I buy a camera because I like it’s output — or as amalric said in here, “I prefer the hunting to the cooking.”

    Oh, and thirdly, really good photographs don’t need no post-processing.

  • Rich

    Gotta agree with ya, Bengt. “Keepers” or “successful shots” mean different things to different people. Like it is said, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Sometimes it is difficult to be your own worst critic as sometimes is necessary. As a former small newspaper shooter, I would sometimes agonize over which photo to select for publication. Both would be technically good but each one struck a chord for different reasons.

  • B. D. Colen

    I’m not talking about screwing around in Photoshop, Dan. But I am saying that prior to digital, you never saw a photo that wasn’t “post processed” – the film was developed various ways, and then the printer took over. I couldn’t agree with you more is that the goal is to capture the image perfectly with the camera, at least in terms of composition and exposure – and white balance for color. But after that. Photoshop becomes the darkroom. I am a PS minimalist, except for converting to black and white, which I do do most of the time.

  • I don’t know who Mark Wallace is or should be, but I trust the number of votes of my followers on flickr, more than the rudeness here.
    It is a smart exercise to shoot every day for a year, which alerts awareness much more than spending hours on the ‘puter.
    So to each his own, Sir.

  • Gloria Esteban

    “I doubt that Mark Wallace or I would accept more than one in a hundred of your shots as final images….”

    I’m sorry…and you are?

    I think you’re getting a little ahead of yourself, Bengt.

  • Drazen B


  • Andy Umbo

    I try to get it “right” in the camera, and have tested my camera’s different settings to get it as close as possible. I’ve spent a lifetime shooting transparency, so the idea that I want to shoot raw and mess with it in post is not what I’m looking to do…

    A couple of things. Nikon is one of the few cameras that still shoots .tiff. I believe the D300/300s, FP, and D800 still shoot .tiff, you’ll have to check for others (I don’t think they did it with the 7100, big mistake). When you find the contrast settings, sharpness settings and saturation settings that most emulates what you used to shoot in film, you can then shoot .tiff and deliver the goods without touching the files. Even better when you’re shooting in continuous light, you can set the camera for what you want, and then shoot “auto-bracket”…I always get a perfect result!

    Color is somewhat “off” in Nikon. The solution? I set the camera’s light control for the type of lighting I’m shooting in (I NEVER use ‘autocolor”), and then I use glass filters to get me what I want. I always get comments from art directors on how great the light looks in my picks! Of course it does, I’m shooting it like I used to shoot transparency with the same glass filters under the same situation!

    BTW, when using non-.tiff shooting cameras, my work flow is to shoot a high-rez jpeg and a raw, I deliver the jpegs, and tell the account to tell my which pictures they want, and I’ll post process the raw and deliver a .tiff to them. You know what? 70% of the time, the clients like the jpegs so much, they just reproduce from them, and never contact me about processing .tiffs. Go figure!