Title image for Field & Screen of ferns in colour fading to monochrome
Photography is composed of two main theatres of artistic creation: what you do in the field and what you do on-screen. Artistically, each informs the other. The camera and the digital files or negatives produced in the field are the vehicles for capturing your experiences. Breathing life back into the scene is the job of post-capture processing.
Considering my personal focus is on Real-world Photography . . .
. . . the works I share here are raw files developed/processed to meet those standards. That is, each photograph is creative, honest and ethical and it is not meant to deceive the viewer or misrepresent the subject or scene. In other words, what you see in my finished photographs reflects my experience—what I saw and felt at the time of capture. Processing applied to the raw file helps to accentuate elements of the scene or subject in a way that is true to their nature.
Do you ever display photos SOOC?
In a word—no. SOOC means Straight-Out-Of-the-Camera, what I call a ‘machine image’, prepared by the photographer but processed by software engineers (see below, re: JPEGs). I have yet to meet a SOOC image that couldn’t be improved with some processing.
Do you only shoot raw files?
For my professional work—yes, I only shoot raw. Family snaps are invariably JPEGs or HEICs.
While I use an array of field techniques to capture the perfect image, saving it as a raw file allows me, the human creative, to use subtle image processing to re-create my experience of ‘being there’, out in the field. A machine image, e.g. a JPEG**, portrays some of that experience, but not all of it. Essentially, processing allows me to ‘breathe life’ back into the image captured by the machine. I can accentuate elements within the scene and shape the image to make it more accessible or understandable to those who were not there with me. The techniques I employ in the field work in tandem with the on-screen techniques I use, all while staying true to the original scene. I never swap skies or subjects. I stick to real-world photography.
** A raw file cannot be used straight out of the camera. It is basically a ‘negative’ that requires processing. On the other hand, a JPEG is a finished image file in that it has been processed in-camera, using algorithms designed by software engineers to render the tones and colour, sharpen the image, then compress it, removing pixel level data and colour information to reduce the file size.
Do you ever use an editing suite other than Lightroom?
I ‘grew up’ on Photoshop and always lamented that it was a sledgehammer approach to photography (even with ACR) and it still is*! Then Lightroom came along and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I had a complete colour and black-and-white darkroom without all the chemicals and water use. Along with that darkroom came a file system, keywording, Categories/Albums, a quick and amazing search function, plus a printing module geared to those who print photographs—and I have never looked back. I still use Apple Photos for my family stuff. Under the hood, it is a very feature-rich app. I have used Google Photos and like it. I have also tried other editing suites such as Capture One, Luminar, Topaz, etc., but, to me, none of them were as intuitive as Lightroom. Nor did they have all the features I require.
*Photoshop is the industry-leading graphic arts suite, with photography added on as an after-thought as Adobe Camera Raw, which is identical to Lightroom. So I ask why have a pig of an app when all you want is the photography part of it? Yes, you can process images in the same way, but Lightroom, alone, is so much more efficient. Some serious photographers prefer Photoshop for its Layers. Me? I prefer using Masks in Lightroom as they are far more intuitive. When I need to graphic arts with my photos, I switch to Photoshop.
Do you prefer Lightroom CC or Lightroom Classic?
Hmmm, tough question. Having used Lr Classic (LrC) since it came out in 2007 and Adobe Camera Raw before that, in2003, the workflow is completely intuitive. When Lightroom CC (simply Lr) was introduced in 2017, I was totally underwhelmed. However over the past 7 years, it has really matured to the point where I prefer using it over LrC for day-to-dat processing. When I go back to LrC, it always seems retro, even klunky. However, there is one LrC plug-in that has not been replicated anywhere: LR/Mogrify 2. It builds borders and margins and text and watermarks like no other.
Mobile or Laptop?
Another tough question. I love the intuitiveness of working with my finger on iPad—not even a pencil! It is quick to load photos either wirelessly or through USB-C. And it sure beats having a laptop in front of me. That being said, it is frustrating to not have the same functionality using Lr on iPad as I have using the identical app on my laptop. For example, when I need Noise AI, I must switch to my laptop. Argh! The same is true for assembling panoramic.
Another pet peeve is that on iPad the background is black. “So what?” you ask. It’s actually a huge oversight. Processing the same photo on a black background producers a darker result. Any printer worth their salt knows you need a white background—especially if the intended use is against a white background, as is the case for most photographs on the web and in print! We should at least be able to choose white, black or neutral grey, like you can using Lr on a laptop. Some day perhaps!
Do you ever shoot serious work with an iPhone?
Yes! I firmly believe the best camera is the one that’s with you. I love using a phone camera, especially when travelling (see my iPhoneography Gallery). It’s ideal for capturing informal portraits in, for example, downtown Hà Nội or in the Mercato in Addis Ababa—people aren’t intimidated when asked for a photo of them, like they would be with a larger, professional camera. When possible, I capture raw files and hdr-raw using the Lightroom camera app. It’s fantastic!
Do you conduct workshops or speak at Camera Clubs?
Yes and Yes! Have al look at my Workshops page for more info.

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