© 2014 Alfie Goodrich. All rights reserved.

Playing in the snow: Sawando National Park, Japan

Took these two shots a few weeks ago when we were travelling over to Kanazawa from Matsumoto. We'd stopped by the entrance to Sawando National Park, up on the mountains that bridge the gap between Matsumoto and Toyama.

Superb area of untouched snow which myself and the kids played in - along with some resident local monkeys - for an hour or so.

Glad we'd rented a 4WD and the snow-tyres as this spot would have been impossible to get to with a normal car.

Gear etc??
Nikon D800E
Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S
Shot using one of my custom monochrome Picture Controls


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  1. I presume that the control profile is providing a custom set of contrast and color->luminance mappings, no? Is that an in-camera profile or an "in post" profile?

  2. In-camera, +Drew Northup. There are a set of parameters you can alter in the camera – contrast, brightness, hue, add a colored filter (like one did with monochrome film), alter sharpness. Then, via software in the computer (old and somewhat clunky and I really wish Nikon would update it but it suffices) you can alter the look of a RAW file by manipulating a curve, to get a desired style, then load that curve back into the camera to shoot with.

  3. Thanks for the explanation +Alfie Goodrich. I've basically done the manual curve tuning in post for quite a while (I did that this weekend on a shot or two actually). I wasn't aware that the Nikons would then let you push a curve back up to the camera. I somehow doubt the Pentax camera shop (now owned by Ricoh of course) has done that on any of theirs (or if it has I haven't found it yet). Cool feature nonetheless.
    (I suppose that I didn't miss it that much anyway as I almost never shoot JPG, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth knowing about.)

  4. I never shoot JPEG, +Drew Northup. Always RAW. Which begs the question; 'why bother with the picture controls if you are shooting a flexible format like RAW?'

    My answer? I grew up in the days of film. For me, going out with my camera meant first selecting what sort of film I wanted to shoot. A decision determined by various things, including what subject matter I was going to shoot, what the lighting was like, what mood I was in etc etc.

    Using the picture controls puts me back in that world. Rather than always shooting with a mentality of 'ah, no worries, I'll fix that or change that in post'', I am pre-visualising my world. It helps me choose subjects that fit the style in which I am shooting and helps me fit a style to a subject. 

    On jobs, it helps the client – perhaps – visualise more of the finished article immediately, rather than always being told "Yeah, so in post we'll do this and this…..'

    Limitations help us all shoot better, smarter. Whether that be choosing to shoot so you see the finished item on the screen in black and white or choosing to go out and only shoot 36frames, no deletes [just like the discipline of a roll of film: when it's run out, it's run out].

    I also use Nikon's ViewNX software as the first part of my RAW workflow, which unlike Lightroom or any other Adobe product, lets me see the pics AS SHOT, rather than turning them all back into some 'standard' colour setting. 

    Or, of course, you could shoot RAW + JPEG, having the JPEG in mono. But with my workflow that's a waste of time and CF card space.

    This is the essential piece of the mix if you are going to shoot just RAW and with Picture Controls. No point in doing it if your workflow is just LR or similar software. You won't see the settings you used. Adobe can't read that part of Nikon's RAW algorithm. 

    From ViewNX, I make the basic RAW adjustments necessary [shadow/highlight recovery, white-balance if the shot is in colour, exposure] and then make TIFFs and after that all the post work is done in Photoshop.

    Nikon's software is not great but it's perfect for those basic adjustments.

    Sure, some folk prefer to shoot RAW, colour, and then have Lightroom presets to do their processing and mono conversions. That, to go back to 'the old days' once more, would be like me shooting a colour negative film and printing it on black and white paper. 

    Deciding what mood, medium and technique I wanted to actually TAKE the photos in would have been by selecting the 'right' film for the occasion, not deciding afterwards.

    Using the picture controls puts me back in that world. It suits my methods, my way of shooting and most of all it allows me to continue pre-visualising my shots the way I learned and the way I like to.

    Thanks for your comments… much appreciated. 🙂

  5. +Alfie Goodrich thank you very much for the time you spent on your most illuminating replies. I appreciate your willingness to take time out of a busy life to talk shop with somebody virtually on the opposite side of the globe.
    I believe that you are the type of master teacher that +Trey Ratcliff is looking for to help build his experimental apprenticeship project +The Arcanum.
    Cheers! May you find good light and happiness.

  6. Thanks Drew. Very kind of you to say so sir.
    I know Trey. We've done some things together. Didnt know about his Arcanum initiative; been way too busy recently and have taken my eye off a few balls. But, +Trey Ratcliff, if you'd like to have me involved, it'd be an honour sir. Getting back into teaching a lot more this year, +Drew Northup. I did a lot of workshops and teaching sessions, walks etc in Tokyo and around Japan in 2012. Not so much last year – a couple of big workshops – but a very busy patch of work took over my life. Putting that straight this year; planned the first 16 walks and events. Just about to announce that now.

  7. You'd be awesome +Alfie Goodrich ! We are in kind of a beta period now… so we are just figuring it out for a smooth ride for all of us! 🙂

  8. Put me down for the Charlie phase, +Trey Ratcliff 🙂

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