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Ask yourself: have you ever felt so good about an image that it didn’t need post-production? Trust me, there’s no better feeling. In the past few years, I’ve given in. I’ve become so sick of staring at a camera screen to then stare at a computer screen. It’s superfluous. We should be able to get great photos in camera without post-production. It’s surely possible. Think about the way you edit. You most likely add contrast, adjust exposure, white balance, clarity, etc. You’re most likely making basic adjustments. But, you also may be messing around, not knowing what you want, and being happy when you find something. That’s fine.
However, lots of us know what we want. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to not edit in post-production. I’m saying that it shouldn’t be your crutch. There are enough photographers who do this.
Kelvin Level White Balance on Your Camera
Everyone thinks that they’ll fix their white balance in post-production. But that’s sometimes an awful idea. You see, folks love talking about how dynamic range and high ISO output need to be better. But I’ve been saying for years that color needs to take a major step forward. If your white balance is too far to one corner or another, it’s going to be very hard to get the colors you might want in post-production.
To that end, why not get the colors correct in-camera?
I typically use two different white balances: 3200K Tungsten and 5200-5500K Daylight. These are based off of film, and I generally like the look of film.
Here’s the deal. You typically end up knowing how you like your images to end up, right? Lots of you think that Kodak Portra gives off a warm feeling, but it doesn’t. The processing does. So why not apply that white balance before you shoot?
In the past few years, clarity has been made available in-camera. And trust us, there’s a world of difference. For Canon, Sony, and Fujifilm, you can apply it to the RAW file. That means both your JPEG and your RAW will have the edit. Truthfully, you really should apply clarity in-camera. But ask yourself first if you want sharpness, contrast, or clarity. All of them can be applied without problems. With Canon cameras, I prefer less sharpness and contrast. But with Sony, I prefer far less sharpness. And with Fujifilm, I want more clarity.
Clarity, for those who don’t know, has to do with the mid-tones. You bring them out more with clarity. Play with clarity as you need it in-camera.
Dynamic Range Settings on Your Camera
A few years ago, I loved using the dynamic range settings on so many cameras. Some folks say that it limits what your final RAW file will look like. But in real-life use, I haven’t found it to be problematic if you meter well. Some cameras have a setting like auto-light optimization and 400% dynamic range. Use them. You’ll often get images that you won’t need to edit at all.
Now don’t get me wrong; not every image needs to be a high dynamic range shot. But at the same time, not every image needs to have the range that a piece of slide film has.
Try it. Don’t believe me? Give it a shot!