July 21, 2011


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Why is it when we go to a movie and marvel about the cinematography that contains post production stylization we don’t stop to ask, “Is that footage ‘right out of camera’, or has it been altered?”

I’m not talking about CGI heavy fantasy films that require the suspension of disbelief to enjoy the movie. I’m talking about the subtle – to moderate – to often heavy enhancements in color and lighting effects. If you’ve ever seen any raw footage from a film and compare it to the final “directors cut,” you know what I mean. It is often night and day.

This issue has been on my mind for a while – ever since I had an exchange with a friend about the merits of HDR photography.  My practice of it was, essentially dismissed as “Photographic Witchcraft.” That’s a criticism I am used to. But my friend also went on to dismiss anything that wasn’t “right out of camera.”  That’s the part I don’t get. More recently, the concept of vision has come up on some of my friend’s blogs, so I thought I’d throw in my two cents.

My journey through photography started about 30 years ago – in college, where I shot and processed a lot of black and white film. Nothing I ever produced in the darkroom was “right out of camera.” It was impossible. You had to go through many steps to get from the click of the shutter to the final print, and variations in the process rendered different results. Sure, We were taught how to properly process B&W film, and make technically sound prints, but we were also challenged to vary our darkroom techniques. We were encouraged followed our creative vision.

I think back to the way I processed my black and white images back in college. I had a style. My images were always on the contrasty side, often slightly dark, and always technically sound. In the digital photography age, even though the technology and tools have changed, but the mission hasn’t. It’s still the vision ting.

So (if you are still with me), today’s image is not right out of camera. It is a B&W conversion of a single exposure. Processed to my liking.

Just some tidal residue from Boston Harbor.

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  1. Love the message here Bob, and completely agree with your thesis – shoot & process for YOU rather than anyone else. How you do that shows off your creativity and your vision – there is really no such thing as “SOOC” anymore. Critics be damned.

  2. I agree, critics be damned. In the long run, people are more the same than they are different. If you shoot and process something the way YOU like it, some may not be thrilled, but I would guess many are though.

    That’s the great thing about being an artist. You don’t have to explain your art to anyone. 🙂

  3. Fantastic post, love the image. Gritty, awesome.

    And yes, F the critics. People are so silly…so worried over what other people DO with their art. Relax, enjoy your own stuff and stop trying to push your pathetic beliefs on others.

    Sorry, I’m okay now 🙂

  4. Great post Bob! First off, love the image! The gritty, contrasty, B&W is very fitting for the scene. Processing gives the photog his/her own style and vision for interpretation of a scene and shouldn’t be questioned (unless it is for a client, I guess). If you love it, I’m sure others will too! If everyone posted ‘SOOC’ I think it would be a pretty boring world… Keep following that great vision of yours!

  5. AWESOME!! If you were here with me right now, you’d see I am jumping up and down and generally hooting madly. This is the best write-up on this topic I’ve seen Bob. You hit the nail right on the proverbial head. And.. I love this image.

  6. Great write up Bob and magnificent post! Experimenting with different techniques is the only way we each find our unique vision.

  7. I like your vision and your post Mr. Lussier! The pic is very cool, with some of the highlights and shadows clipped. Who said you can’t do that! A picture itself is a digital rendering of a setting – the camera is doing as much interpretation as you do in post. To think that your rendering is anymore cheating than the camera’s is silly.

  8. I totally agree with you and Brian, as photographers it is our individual artistry and post production that makes our images our own, and how the end result is reached should not matter in the least.