Smooth Stones

Smooth Stones, originally uploaded by john.king.

Quick Rant.

Why do photography writers insist on using derogatory terms for legitimate and useful activities?

“Chimping” and “Pixel-Peeping” come to mind.

Professional photographers in the film age used polaroids as test shots so they could instantly review lighting values. Digital photography has given us instant review on the LCD screen but digital photography writers have given us a derogatory term for that review: Chimping.

And then there is a whole crowd who think SOOC is a virtue. Straight Out Of the Camera  has a legitimate meaning when it refers to a polaroid or a contact sheet from a film negative. With digital, SOOC often means “I’m not industrious  enough to process my digital negatives. My camera’s computer did all this cool processing for me.”  To me, SOOC seems to be the equivalent of taking your film to a mass-production lab processor in a department store and getting a package of machine-made prints. Every print is okay, but they are processed to minimum standards. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but why has it been elevated to a virtue of pristine photography?  There is even a Flickr group for SOOC.  Maybe someone should start a “WalMart Prints”  group too.

I would prefer a custom made print any day. And that is what you get with processing digital negatives in Lightroom, Photoshop or the software that came with the camera. In the image above, I didn’t make a lot of adjustments, but the white balance was much too cool for the look I was trying to achieve.I added some vignetting to the edges and made a very light crop to eliminate the edges that were not visible in the viewfinder when I shot it.

The exposure was nearly right on because I had taken a spot meter reading of the lightest area and opened up a stop. I also reviewed the image (the dreaded “chimping”) on the LCD and made sure that the highlights were not going to blow out. A scene like this is often tricky to meter because of the presence of very light and very dark areas as well as smooth reflective surfaces that can push the highlights over the top. Nothing is uglier than blown highlights in a digital image. If the highlights are blown there is no remedy.

I’m not really sure what the fuss about “pixel peeping” is. In the wet darkroom we always used a magnifier to ensure accurate focus when enlarging negatives. In digital development, I almost always check the image at 100% magnification and adjust the sharpness settings with that view. Shooting at higher ISO settings usually requires some finesse with noise reduction and masking as well. I can usually get acceptable images from ISO settings up to 1600 with this approach. Pixel peeping. Why is that a bad term?

End of Rant.


About John King

I live in Newfoundland and I like to play outside.
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One Response to Smooth Stones

  1. excellent photo, absolutely normal that some work (PP) on it is necessary to get the visual result you desire.

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