Bridge and Mountains, Seongsan.

In addition to not knowing what to photograph lately, I’m also getting a bit frustrated with working on the photos I do make. I can adjust contrast, clarity, and a dozen other sliders and settings, but then the photos look like every other over-processed picture you see on Instagram or photo forums.

I think I’m just making it more complicated that it needs to be. A couple of days ago I found myself using raw convertors to make 16 bit TIFF black and white files and then importing them into Lightroom and doing more adjustments there. And still not being happy with the final photos. Frankly, it just felt like a chore from start to finish. And that’s not good for a hobby.

Today I revisited those raw files and used just basic camera settings. They look much better and it was much less work and stress.

Today I brought a camera out for a bicycle ride and set it to record jpg only. No tripod, and no frigging around with settings. The light was warm, the experience was pleasurable, and the photos looked good. And then I accidentally erased them all . . . . It doesn’t matter. They were just photos from around my neighbourhood and I could make the same ones tomorrow. Most of them would have eventually been deleted anyway.

I tell you what, I’m tempted to just buy some rolls of Kodak Ultramax and let the lab worry about everything.

8 thoughts on “Becoming a Chore

  1. Hi Marcus – sorry I’ve not commented in a while but I’ve been trying to avoid screen work.

    I think you’ve hit the didg-dillema:

    Ooooh I want raw data for the ultimate quality


    Hang it, gimme easy files and convenience.

    It’s why I don’t take digital photos – you get so hung up on this that you forget the enjoyment of photography for its own sake.
    You’ll probably only ever look at them on a screen anyway, so it’s almost (to me) what’s the point?

    At least with film, the moment is there and relatively unfooterable, and the cost of it makes you concentrate more on the final image, because each and every one of those pictures of dogs with bowties or leaves is going to cost you to get processed and printed.
    If you do go the film route why not get them scanned rather than printed, or how about buying yourself some chemicals and a daylight tank and trying it yourself – it doesn’t have to be expensive. Initial results will be OK, but you can take it from there and scan them yourself with a dedicated film scanner. It does require a modicum of cost but nothing too much.

    The problem with digital photography is that it makes image making far too easy and such in my opinion disables the arbiter of taste and choice – your own visual opinion on what is and isn’t a good photograph – edit yourself with your own brain, not a screen. Think before you release that shutter. It does work. It sharpens you and makes you a better photographer! If it looks good in the VF, then it should look good as a photograph. If it look so-so, then it’ll be so-so; if it looks terrible then . . .
    You get my drift.
    It’s all learning, but it comes from you, at the time of taking the photograph, not some aftermath using the translator of a computer program.
    Shoot less and observe/think more – it works and if it is any consolation, I have the same problem with 35mm vs 120. 36 exposures can be waaaay too much.

    All the best as always!


    1. Hey Bingo,

      It’s good to hear from you again. I have curse of not being able to decide what to do with the raw files, but I’m happy to say I don’t have the vice of over-shooting. I also find it difficult to fill up a roll of 36 frames on film and I generally don’t come home with more than 36 or 72 frames even when using digital. And a lot of those are exposure tests I didn’t delete. I enjoy film but I’m not sure it’s the answer to my problems. though it does save me a lot of trouble deciding on what look I want. Maybe I just need to take a good course on using Lightroom. Or stick to slide film . . . .


      1. Hi Marcus – well that’s a positive, but really you shouldn’t even need exposure tests. When using my older 35mm cameras I guess exposure with film and more often than not the exposure is fine, it’s something you can work with. The worst curse is underexposure. Sunny 16 works quite well – and in sunnier areas of the world works very well indeed.
        As for the look of something, y’see that to me is a bit of a pain. You used to load a film and that was it – unless you were aiming for consistency, you rolled with whatever you were using. There was never a vastly overwhelming difference; certainly there was a different look between say Velvia and other things, but nobody would look at your photos and say: “you know you should have been using Tri-X instead of HP5 there”.
        There was a famous phrase that came in when the original midi synths arrived. ‘Option Anxiety’ – it basically meant you were so caught up in going through all the options that you actually forgot about using the thing to make music – it’s the same with digital photography. You become so caught up in all the various settings and tweaks and whether you’ve captured the ultimate file that you’re more concerned with the process of using the machine than you are with the process of taking a valid picture. The online forums are littered with people obsessed with ultimate sharpness (sic) etc when in reality their pictures (made with some very expensive gear) bear less relevance than what their forebears would have produced with an instamatic or box brownie.
        You’ve got some good film cameras, and some good light over there – get a roll of FP4 and let the speed of your lenses dictate your shutter speed – try and get it processed in ID11 or D76 and see what you get. If you had a basic flatbed with a film unit, you could even scan them yourself, or even a basic dedicated film scanner – you might well be surprised.


      2. I know about option anxiety quite a bit. It even happens with film. “I like this ISO 100 film, but what if the light is dim and I can’t get a fast enough shutter speed for hand holding? Better take a 400 film. But the grain is large . . . ” And so on.
        This morning I went out with the D850 and left the picture control on Neutral. I also set the camera to record jpg only so I wouldn’t be tempted to fiddle about later. It worked out quite well and I felt more relaxed. I did have to test exposure now and then because digital cameras do things with the files as they create the jpgs and the results are sometimes not exactly what you expected. Annoyingly. The biggest problem is the camera underexposing to avoid highlights being overexposed. I use spot metering and manual mode, but still . . . . The nice thing about film is that there is a direct connection between the light and the film and the camera doesn’t pull any tricks on you.


    1. Thanks, Katie. You seem to have lots of fun with your film cameras, so there is something in what you say.
      I went out this afternoon with a film camera and had a good time. I might be crying when I get the film back, though. 🙂


  2. It’s never good when the fun becomes a chore. Time to reboot/change the record – and it sounds like you did that well.

    Aren’t your files recoverable after an accidental ‘delete’? Not that I would know lol

    At least you got out and about and enjoyed the experience. And as you say, you’ve now the perfect excuse to go out there again with a camera 🙂


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