Sunday, November 25, 2012

Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC)

"Cedar Shrub"

"SOOC" is a new acronym that belongs in the brave new world of Digital Photography, meaning Straight Out of Camera", that is, a JPG image that has not been altered in any way in Post-Processing software of any kind. I'm not sure what the point of this is, really, because it bears no strength. I've seen it used almost to prove ones mettle with a digital camera, that one knows how to shoot so well, that they get exactly what they want, without alteration, simply because they know photography so well, that they know exactly what they're going to get, and they know they will be happy with the results, when they press the shutter button. Well, OK. But with my recent return to shooting film, (more like I've put myself on a no-digital diet for awhile, for the purposes of self-teaching), I'm just imagining what pre-digital photography must have been like. "SOOC" would have been de-facto. Sometimes, darkroom manipulation was used by serious photographers who developed their own, but for the most part, when film was processed by the big C-41 machines, then every picture a photographer would make was truly straight out of the camera -  it was the only way.

Now, one thing I have learned from my no-digital diet is this - I have NEVER had a SOOC result from my digital photography I've been happy with - I ALWAYS have applied some software post-processing to my digital keepers - it simply had to be done, and seemed like the norm to me. After all, why does every serious digital photographer buy Photoshop and consider the software to be every bit as important as his/her camera? (I personally use various bits of Open Source software, not Photoshop, but it accomplishes the same thing). But, with a few noticeable exceptions, this is not the case with what I'm doing with film these days, nor was it the case back in 2008 when I was shooting mostly film, before I bought my first DSLR. With film, I'm scanning my negatives at home with an Epson v500 flatbed - hardly the greatest scanner available, but certainly good enough. With this scanner, of course, I am turning my film negatives into JPG files, and having done so, there are some limited adjustments I could make, as I notably pointed out here. But in the vast majority of cases, I am perfectly happy with my results "SOOS" (Straight Out of Scanner).

The above picture of the Cedar Shrub is a perfect example. Shot with my rapidly failing old Pentax Spotmatic at 1/125 sec, with my best lens, the Jupiter-9 at f2, using Fuji Superia 400 ISO film, I am perfectly happy with the v500 output - no improvements needed. This has been the case with most of the shots taken recently with my Pentax Zoom 90, Olympus Trip 35, the Rolleiflex (notable exception - my first real B&W film shots on Ilford FP4 were very disappointing to me, but with some tweaking in GIMP I was able to get them looking OK).

My point is - and this is nothing more than an opinion - that when I  shoot with film, getting the results I want is effortlessly accomplished with the camera itself, but when shooting digital, whether with JPG or RAW output, it doesn't matter, I always find myself having to make some post processing tweaks - even if it's a simple click on the auto-correct icon. In fact, with the latest firmware update for my Canon EOS 7D, there's a lot of post-processing I can do right in the camera itself, thereby making my SOOC results satisfactory (that was a joke, son!).

I may be under a lot of mis-understanding here, I don't know. Maybe I don't really know how to use my digital camera as well as I should. I often use it the same as I do a film camera, with old school "film lenses" and in full manual mode.

We're still learning here, right?

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