Tag Archives: Aperture

How to eat your own foot.

I’ve been vocal about my dislike of Adobe. For me, it was an idealist as much as a quality thingy to switch from Lightroom 3 to CaptureOne 6. RAW processors, in case you wonder, which isn’t the point.

But let me look at the RAW processor market, as is, ca. 2012. You could just as well discuss video software, word processors, or kitchen appliances. The message is the same: If you need something, say, for supporting your beer habit or the cat or – gods forbid – a family, you’ll damn well make sure it will be around in the future and won’t push you into the Pony Level vendor lock-in. Unfortunately, just as a cook might need a replacement Kitchen Aid™ because there’s tons of specific add-ons in the drawer already, photographers may remain loyal to one platform. But there’s limits to loyalty, and the limit to end all limits is: will the bloody thing still be supported when I buy a new camera or computer?

Hasselblad releases one abomination after the other, and only gods know how long they’ll still support Phocus after bundling Lightroom with their bread-and-butter cameras. They’re primarily a hardware company, after all. Phase One might be idealists, but in the end, they too want to sell digital backs. MediaPro and CaptureOne are needed to push their hardware, to justify their “everything works with everything” approach. In the light of full-frame companies turning more and more into middle-format competitors, or other middle-format dudes besides Hasselblad bundling Lightroom, well. Where to invest your limited resources? And why, if you’ll make much more money from the 15 odd K for a new digital back than from a price/feature war on software?

Don’t get me started on Apple’s Aperture. Seriously, don’t. You’ll find all my answers to all possible “but …”s here, save the copious cussing.

And, well, then there was Lightroom 4. It’s bloated as hell, it’s from Adobe, but still: I want continuity, and I rather enjoy a non-destructive workflow. So here I am, foot-in-mouth firmly inserted.

Bugger this for a game of soldiers.

Stopping down is for babies and communists.

You paid helluva lot for that wide-aperture lens, so you’re going to use it. What’s the point in shooting at an aperture that complements an image’s composition, its message, and your personal understanding of documented reality?

Oh, wait. You just paid helluva lot for that wide-aperture lens, hence you damn well see the world at f/1.4 or below, so that’s fine. Pinpointing what matters™, highlighting it in gloriously shallow depth-of-field. After all, there’s the Bokeh to consider, the creamier, the better. Unless you bought a cheapo lens and the out-of-focus areas are kinda hard, in that case that’s the statement you truly wanted to make. The harsh reality outside of what normal people perceive. The human condition, rendered in two inches of sharpness, the rest in uncomfortable blur. You even got an ND filter to make sure you won’t get tempted to stop it down in brighter conditions. Because the shallowness is what it’s all about.

For example, how could the following photo profit from a stopped-down lens? Juxtaposing the mercantile marketing world represented by the discarded Coke can to newspapers ready for disposal? As a somewhat ironic comment? Are you bloody kidding me?

Yeah, that’s what you need f/1.1 for. Exactly this.

Na, the message is: the “% sodium” label sits in the same focus plane as the twine on the right. Because that’s what you can do with this fucking lens, that’s what it’s there for and what you’ve paid for. It’s huge, it’s heavy, it’s expensive. It’s irritating the manufacturer still bothers with aperture blades! Such lenses are made to be shot wide open, so you’ll do your damnedest to only use it wide open. Always. No exception. The Bokeh will make it a good image by default. No?

Software can’t read your mind, and RAW is not JPEG.

You like what you see on the cam’s display? Sure you do. Great colours! The contrast – w00t! You enjoy working with your camera, getting the shot right™ while framing it, hate the idea of post-processing. And anyways – them colours! Woah!

And then you switch to RAW because somebody told you that’s professional, JPEG isn’t. And then you wonder why this funky RAW software thingy you need to actually see what you’ve shot delivers such lame-ass pictures. No oomph. And what the hells, I made this picture in black and white! It’s in colour now! This software sucks!

No it doesn’t. You have to take RAW literally: it’s a collection of the raw information captured by your camera’s sensor. Without all that funky stuff happening inside your cam like Virtual Films or Art Filters. Or the less funky stuff that happens internally so you can actually look at a picture on the camera’s screen. Sometimes, RAW even ignores your choice of aspect ratio as the sensor captures everything anyways. The horror, the horror, etc.

It’s like the difference between getting photos developed and shooting negatives you develop yourself. Later on, in the dark-room with a bottle of Whisky nearby and the tingly sensation of chemicals on your skin. In this case, chemicals are replaced by (sometimes) expensive software while the booze remains the same, if hopefully of Irish provenance.

You like to control your pictures on-site? You don’t want to meddle with Burn, Dodge, different virtual “chemicals” and whatnot just to hold a decent picture in your alcohol-stained hands? Then shoot JPEG, save a lot of time, and stop complaining. The software can’t read your mind, and as long as camera manufacturers stick to proprietary RAW formats and settings, i.e. until the sun burns out, it also can’t know what “Vivid” or “Art Filter No.43” means.

Fine, you changed “Contrast” in your camera’s settings. And how exactly should third-party applications such as Lightroom or uvraw know what +2 Contrast in your camera relates to? The file might be readable, but the JPEG engine inside the cam that interprets +2 Contrast is a heavily guarded, copyrighted, and patented secret.

Get real. And take your pick. JPEG is perfectly fine if you like your camera’s results and won’t go all wonky colours later on. It’s neither more nor less “professional” than shooting in RAW. But please, baby Jesus please stop bitching about the status quo of RAW developing and stop expecting the impossible from manufacturers who don’t have full access to your camera makers’ intellectual property. Or, better choice, do something about that IP thingy by voting for the right™ parties next time round. Okay? Thanks.

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