The camera, the photograph and the post-production

I had a post planned for today, but WordPress has changed my plans; more precisely this post by Leanne Cole. She talks about how much credit people give to the camera instead of the photographer. Quite often people think that because you have a big camera or the latest and greatest gear you’ll take great photos.

I shoot with entry level cameras, first the Nikon D3100 and now the Olympus EPL-6, and it happens to me a lot that people with better cameras than mine look down on me and think I’m not as competent as them. Obviously I’m not a pro nor is my work in the same level of most of the photographers that I admire, but judging me from the camera that I have in my hands gets me very annoyed. I live my life on a budget which means I can’t afford most of the photography gear that I have on my wishlist, so I photograph with what my salary allows me to buy.

Looking at the greatest photographers of all time like Ansel Adams I realize that whatever camera we pick up today is technically superior to what he used in the 1940’s, nevertheless he managed to capture some of the most inspiring landscape photographs ever.

I want to continue with the Ansel Adams example for one other matter: post production.

When I share my photos with my personal friends they often say that this and that photo is good because I processed it in Lightroom, that I should share the photo as it comes straight out of the camera because that’s what people did in the film days, before digital.


Ansel Adams with the straight print side-by-side with the finished print of “Moonrise”

Little do they know Ansel Adams used a non digital version of Lightroom called “Darkroom”, in his own words:

“Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.”

You can read more about this here and here. So, no, post processing is not some evil invention of the digital era, it’s an upgraded version, a transformation of the darkroom concept.

Concerning the quality of the image, another master said it right:

“The picture is good or not from the moment it was caught in the camera.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Post production doesn’t turn a bad photo into a good one – if you have a good photo you can make it better in Lightroom or Photoshop, but a bad photo will always be a bad photo not matter what adjustments you add to it.

Do you share my opinion or do you think that I’m not considering some key factor? Go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments.


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