One of the methods we like to teach at the Five Minute Photographer and at our Creative Photo Workshops is the benefits of 'getting it right in camera'. In the digital age there are many who, as newcomers to photography, settle for the option of 'fixing it in PhotoShop'. In my mind, that just isn't on. For old film photographers like me, that was never an option, especially if you were shooting in transparency.
We teach correct exposure techniques and creative metering skills at our workshops because it is quite simply the best process for photographers. There are few things more satisfying for photographers than being able to pull a jpeg out of the camera that is all that it can be - straight out of the camera. Then, should your desire be to enhance the image, you have a perfect RAW file as well - if, like me, you shoot jpegs and RAW files simultaneously. However, a good quality jpeg can actually withstand some enhancement without too much quality loss too, depending on what you are doing. Either way, a near perfect jpeg is a great lesson for the photographer and is immensely satisfying too. After all, who wants to show the client a half baked image on the back of the camera?
This process came galloping home to me recently. I was asked by Kodak Australia to come to their HQ in Collingwood, here in Melbourne, to photograph each member of staff for their updated business cards and security passes. Headshots on white. Its relatively boring, but I like to make it fun. As photographers we get asked to do this stuff all the time, and when Kodak is your client you happily do whatever they ask. Over the years they have shown me too much of a good time...
The first day I was rushed in the setup, and silly me - I fell for it. People were starting to come in to the room where I was asked to set up. I felt the pressure. So, thinking I had it set up fairly well for a white backdrop, I began to shoot. And...I was wrong. So, hours of PhotoShop ensued to make each background white. Here is something I could have ensured in camera, but was compelled through my own stupidity to repair later in PhotoShop. As you can imagine, I didn't make the same mistake on the second day. No one was going to rush me this time. Having learned my lesson - again - I knew it was a case of either 'five minutes, or five hours'. That extra five minutes of getting it right in camera meant saving five hours in PhotoShop - and I have better things to do with my time.