Quick and dirty – that’s how I shoot these days. Life is fast and moments are fleeting, so get the best possible shot you can, and then move on. Things can always be cleaned up and punched-up in post processing….
These words probably make most professional photographers cringe because they seem to deny some of the most basic principles of photography. The expectation is that those who are truly “serious” about photography always plan their excursions meticulously, always carry their gear with them, always use a tripod, and always, Always, ALWAYS spend the necessary time to get the exposure just right. Well, I’m here to say that as much as I wish that were the case, it’s often just not feasible. Especially for those of us who have to balance our creative endeavors with a day job and a family. In short, it boils down to making the best out of the time that you have in the field with your beloved DSLR. Sometimes the elements converge to produce just the moment you were looking for. Other times, you simply need to grab the best shot you can and then do a bit of editing in the digital darkroom.
In short: post processing…. that’s what it often boils down to for me. It’s really one of the more fun and engaging parts of being a photographer because A) I can do it when time allows, and B) because it really opens the floodgates to creativity. And then suddenly a purely mediocre shot transforms into something really special. Here’s an example of an out-of-the-camera shot that just doesn’t work on its own. But then add a little contrast filter, a little digital lighting and some dramatic cloud elements, and the base image transforms into something much more eye-catching.
*The base image was taken on a typically dreary San Francisco day from the 21st floor of my office building in the Financial district.
Sony R1, 320/f5