Thoughts on Processing

27 thoughts on “Thoughts on Processing”

  1. Born in the late 60’s, grown up through the 70’s and 80’s I’m still a film dude in 2017. I really know what you’re talking about reg. the processing of digital stuff sitting in front of a computer working with digital images. It’s a bloody pain, and I hate every single second I have to do it. So I stopped, simple as that. Now I only do processing inside my phone, and anything that takes me more than 15 sec. to do in snapseed will not be done, period.
    Luckily I’m a different man when going inside the darkroom doors. Patient even, at times.
    I really love the looks of your digital files here, by the way.
    And the pictures themselves, the obvious reason why I started to follow your blog in the first place, they are just up there in the highest league! Keep them coming :))

  2. BW can be a pain in the arse sometimes. You would think that processing BW would be easy (it is just black & white), but I actually find it harder to work than colour shots (with all it’s various hues) most of the time, probably why I switch back and forth between the two quite a lot. I sometimes wish that I could have just one preset for each, one click and done, no extra processing needed. Unfortunately, photography isn’t like that, we have to work for our art.

    I will try your tip about underexposing in camera for digital. It makes sense really because digital cameras tend to overexpose generally when compared to film I find.

  3. I started meaningful photography in 1967. I have been photographing ever since. I have a consistent approach, details in the highlights, substance in the shadows, and a full range of grays. I switched to digital as soon as it really became responsive. I try many different cameras, I used to work the front desk of a camera repair shop, but I have settled on Micro-Four Third cameras for the last ten years. Reading this morning I realize that I have never wavered from my approach. It is really based on the definition of a good darkroom print that I taught myself in the early days. My purpose is the photographs and what they express. Many times I see an excellent photograph, the content, the emotions, and the composition, ruined by the processing.

    1. Hi Stephen, thanks for your very rational post, it makes a lot of sense to me. The simplicity of a single approach to processing for one’s whole life, has merit for sure. Even though I see the need myself for different images to receive different processing approaches, dependent on the photographer’s intent.

  4. Got to say you’re a very good photographer. I find myself really looking at each of your images. Maybe because you capture the feel of Korea that I remember having been there many years ago. B&W is so very appropriate. Thanks for posting!

  5. Thank you for sharing your struggles. I’m an amateur and even I am trying to get some consistency in my photography. I’ve discovered I like my photos somehow darker then other photographers, but I like that way of editing. And I’m a huge fan of colour photography and I’m a bit scared of taking pictures / editing in black and white. Seeing your beautiful photos and reading your story, I’m reconsidering my doubts and I’m going to take a shower as well ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Josh, I follow you because of your photographs. They fascinate me for the emotional depth they often portray amongst other things. I could care less what camera you use to capture these moments. I guess it’s normal for all of us to worry about some aspect of our pursuits and expression, in this case consistency. From my perspective and quite a few other people that feel the same, we can always recognize your work. It transcends any camera brand. It’s wonderful to witness. I think you have to struggle though, that’s the most important part of the process, not the digital or analog darkroom work. If you didn’t struggle there would be nothing to achieve.

  7. A while ago I read this: While I am satisfied with the post processing and final result for this image I canโ€™t let go of the feeling that using the same software and digital algorithms as everyone else must render a certain uniformity to images. [source]
    Makes a ot of sense.

    1. Classic gsp process used the same chemicals, same paper, same enlargers, same lenses… doesn’t make much sense to me ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Hey JT firstly I love reading your ramblings. Same shit I think about. Very interesting what you say about contrast being a crutch. I think youโ€™re right. You see that kind of processing so much these days and it really does hide a multitude of sins and really let the subject matter be anything cos itโ€™s sometimes so hard to discern the subject anyway. Some people do that processing great. Jacob Aue Sobol comes to mind but there is a lot of shite out there.

    1. I mean, I think it really should be about the imagine first. If you know how to make a darkroom print look like the digital output you use then more power to you. The problem is, most of the processing done is done by people that have no idea how to do that. They don’t even know what a darkroom print looks like. Even Sobol’s digital photos when printed almost become pixelated when large because he cannot create the same style as effectively as he did in the dark room. A sad reality. I have certainly gotten far away from it. I was sick of people in places like Instagram using me as the poster child for how to properly “ruin” your imagines, haha.

  9. Nice one JT. By the way since I got my RicohGR about a year ago my Nikon D800 and Fuji x100S are virtually redundant and I hate that. Especially when I look at the Fuji. Itโ€™s so beautiful but the Ricoh is so easy to use and so unassuming.

    1. The original x100 is certainly fair and away my favourite digital camera. Blows everything else away. Love it. The ones after all had a different look with the new sensor.

  10. While I do agree with the comment about shite photographers abusing contrast, it’s tricky to be critical of them when you adopt a super stylistic editing approach. Because they can come back and say you’re using your editing as a crutch. If you take away the filter, is it still a good photo?

    I just don’t get why digital photographers try to hard so emulate film. Digital has a soul of its own. It might be more saturated and not as soft, but that should challenge photographers to be more shutter speed and color-aware in their environment. Try taking a good color-accurate photo by finding complementary colors in the scene. Don’t take a shite photo with random colors and desaturate the hell out of it to get the colors to fit. If it takes a week to get one good photo on the street, so be it.

    Over editing is how you get that IG filter look. It’s all just my opinion, but let film be film, and embrace digital for what it is. That’s how we can start respecting both formats and the unique challenges of shooting digital. Otherwise, we’re in this never ending argument about how digital will never compare to film, which is BS. it doesn’t have to.

    1. I guess I’m fairly confident I dont need the processing. I do it to keep cohesion in my posts. I’m surprised you spent so much time to write a response on someone you obviously believe to be a hypocrite. I’m sure you can find a blog with photos you actually like ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good luck in your search.

  11. Hypocrite or not, that doesn’t really have anything to do with the length of a response. More to do with getting a point across. And I don’t agree we should just find blogs with photos we like. You put the criticism out there. You should be able to take criticism in return. Was just saying it’s pointless for all the Moriyama-style photographers to call each other shite. Moriyama himself said he’s loose with his composition and sharpness. That’s part of the arebureboke charm. From a technical standpoint, there’s a huge camp of photographers that call all the Moriyama photographers shite for this very reason. Because they can get away “shite” photos by masking it, stylistically. It’s all subjective.

    1. I’m not sure I took your criticism poorly as you might have thought. I’m happy to be criticised. I just meant for your own enjoyment perhaps you’d prefer to look at something you’d enjoy. It seems to me that you are the one looking for a fight here. I write these boots on a whim and my opinion changes quite often. I share my opinion, as it is. You make lots of points here that to me simply sound like excuses. I don’t believe I called all Moriyama type photographers shit as well. I said there is a movement of photographers that seem to make up for a poor photograph by giving it the Moriyama treatment. That charm you speak of is fine but in the end a good photo is a good photo is a good photo in my mind. This is of course just my opinion. But then again, this is my blog ha. I spent years making up for shit photos in the way I mentioned here. And you seem to be lecturing me as if I don’t know what arebureboke is. A shit photo is a shit photo and a good one is a good one to me. Subjective, as you said. Anyway, I’m far too tired after spending the night in the hospital with my niece for more of this argument. I’d love to check out your photos some time, as we seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot. I guess you shoot in this way or else you’d not be so upset. I’m happy to be proven wrong. Have a good day, hope my post doesn’t ruin any more of it for you ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. I should clarify though. A good photographer who does this style well I also enjoy. The problem I have is with photographers who take photos of nothing and slap their Moriyama filter on them. Have you heard of Alison McCauley? She shoots within the arebureboke style and does it very well. In fact, I am even in a collective with her. Excellent work especially if you’re a fan of that style.

      1. “The problem I have is with photographers who take photos of nothing and slap their Moriyama filter on them” <- fair point. Me too.

        I'll check Alison out. I think your photos are masterful, by the way lol. The majority of the ones just on this page are well composed, have layers, well timed. It's very difficult to achieve. Some even have that sadness/loneliness to them. My hostility comes from the fact that I'm a street, digital shooter, and I wish people could just respect digital for what it is. Each format has its challenges. With film, you have fewer photos, but it looks timeless and painterly. With digital, you have more photos, but have to make more effort to limit your color palette (unless you use film simulations, but even those look digital). If shooting in BW, you can shoot with certain techniques to make it look softer. Anyway, To shoot digital, but HAVE to edit to look like film almost cheapens it. I get that you don't have to. You do it for consistency.

        Anyway, I shot film when I was younger for like 2 weeks. Now I'm digital. I don't shoot in the arebureboke style. I started with a GR II and wanted to, but realized I didn't understand film enough to make it look like Moriyama's film GR photos. You have a better understanding than I do. I've only been shooting consistently for a few years with the standard color profiles. I'm trying to understand color and light and not use editing early on. You already understand film so this doesn't apply to you.

        Anyway, a public blog comments section really isn't the place for me to rant about this crap. It's rude lol. Like going into someone's house and moving stuff around, while wearing a mask. I'm just a super-opinionated beginner that was wanting to get your input. No reason to even keep my comments up because the exchange was all that matters. Better off deleting.

      2. One last point- I don’t see myself publishing arebureboke style photos ever now because so many lazy photographers have adopted it. Not referring to you, of course. You’re in a class of your own. Anyway, there’s something about the digital look that I’ve learned to love. It’s harder to find pleasing colors with the standard color profiles. These unique challenges + the challenges of street photography make me consider it to be a respectable medium, and not inferior to film. Challenge and being selective is how the medium gains respect. A lot of my photos would be passable if I used a classic film simulation/preset, but it’s just not personally fulfilling. Fewer, curated, photos that rely less on editing and more on shooting technique is my preference. But I know how disrespectful this sounds to editors.

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