Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What's your ratio ?

Was listening to a lightsource podcast this morning and one of the interviewees made an interesting comment. He described himself as 40% photographer 60% photoshopper. It made me think about what my ratio was in my photography. I started out 100% Photoshop, in the early 1990s. Learned tons about image processing, studied it at University, wrote software plug-ins and designed hardware accelerators for Photoshop. Slowly I discovered photography and took more pictures, that I processed a lot in the computer. I'd fix mistakes, tweak problems, adjust and improve the images. I was probably 20% photographer, 80% photoshopper with those early photos. Fixing bad exposures. Repairing sloppy compositions, making it all after the fact. As I've gotten better with a camera and because I really focused on getting better with the camera, I've moved on to be maybe 60% photographer, 40% photoshopper. I spend less time infront of the computer, fixing things. I try harder to get it right in the camera, get the best light, the best colour, framed properly. Partly this is to spend less time working in Photoshop, but also because I believe it helps you get better results. If you have the best possible file to work with at the start, then you can take it a lot further without quality issues. So with the camera, I'm looking for the best possible starting point to then work in the computer. This means I can spend a lot less time fixing and only a bit of time optimising or making a picture sing. I'm still pushing harder on the photographer side though - trying to get better at seeing what I want and getting that from the subject up front, rather than creating it digitally later. Maybe my lack of interest in the Photoshop side of the world comes from having experience in it for so long, but I don't find it particularly enjoyable to create the final image in photoshop, if the starting point looked totally different. The good thing is I've just about stopped fixing things at all. I edit heavily and throw away most things that aren't pretty much exactly what I wanted from the camera. So any photoshop time now is spent being creative and realising the final result. Least that's the goal and the hope. Maybe some day I'll be 80% of a photographer. I think 100% is a never reachable goal!