I’ve just had a walkthrough of my photos from this summer vacation. Uninspired is the word I am using to describe them. I can probably blame my Fuji X-T2 since I don’t have the last version (T4 is it now?), or I could blame my Fujinon XF 16–55 f/2.8 lens since it is not a prime lens and the aperture doesn’t open passed 2.8, or I could blame the weather since it was either too hot or too cold, or I could blame RAW files since Fuji produces jpg’s of the finest quality and RAW files need work to get to the same quality. I could even blame Covid-19 since I don’t get out so much to practice my technique.
Ok, it wasn’t a total waste but the %-age of photos I’m satisfied with are on an all time low. And it has gotten me thinking. Why? Why are my photos uninspiring? A working theory is that RAW files is the reason. Let me explain.
I started shooting RAW years ago, and the workflow is that I import them to my MacBook Pro or my Windows PC and upload them to Onedrive in a folder called “Import”. The intention is to go through all images (after each import) and mark them for keeping (5*) or throw away (0*). I keep only the 5* images and each of them is opened in Adobe Raw Converter via Adobe Bridge. I process them either as black and white photos or colour photos, sometimes both. I’ve spent a lot of time learning Adobe Photoshop and the RAW Converter and have eventually found my favourite steps and tools to process the photos to my liking.
But I think that herein lies the problem. From the time I started with photography with film and til now the creative part of my photography has been moved from the time of exposure to post-production. So instead of spending time during the photography act itself, I just take the photo and try to make it perfect in post-production. Any good chef would now raise his or her hand and tell me that great food comes from quality produce and raw material. You cannot make a good soup with rotten carrots. SI-SU as we say in the IT-industry; Shit In — Shit Out.
So I decided to learn some more Fuji and look into the custom settings and the film styles I have on my Fuji. I programmed 7 different custom styles to my X-T2 to have as a starting point, put my shutter, aperture and focus to manual and went back to my back garden. I decided to focus (pun intended) on the time of exposure and import the jpg instead of the raw file.
It brought me flashbacks to the days of film. When you would load a film into the camera and the next 12/24/36 images would be the result of the characteristics of that film. You had to think before the shoot as well as at the time of exposure.
So here I am. I’m breaking up with RAW and post-production. And this is my rebound photo. This photo sparks my new start where I am taking back control of the time of exposure and concentrating on the jpg’s instead of the RAW’s (they are still on the other card in the camera). It’s not a special photo in any way, but it is a motive I’ve used every time I’ve come home with a new lens, new camera or have tried some new film or new settings on my camera.
I recon that I will still spend time in Photoshop, but not as much. I will rather spend time composing articles or showing my photos to others instead of tweaking the parameters of a RAW photo. Because for me, in the end, it is not about the photo, it is about the moment.