© 2016 Alfie Goodrich. All rights reserved.

Pre-visualisation: using Nikon’s Picture Control System to shoot in a specific…

Pre-visualisation: using Nikon's Picture Control System to shoot in a specific aesthetic, a comparison between two styles

You can read another article on my website about why I use the Nikon Picture Control system [and download a few I have made] but I just wanted to write a quick post this morning which shows you a direct comparison between two of the styles.

Read the article at the link below....



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  1. I'm recently been coming to terms with this: It helps you hunt for specific subjects that suit the style. I think this is an important point that I'm now coming to appreciate more and more

  2. +Leo Deegan It's exactly how I worked with film. The camera bodies were just a conduit for the film. You learned the aesthetics for each film and how to shoot and develop them. These days the camera body has a everything that was going on with the film and camera in the old days. There's a tendency now to think of the aesthetic of a shot as simply post-production. Sure, in the old days there was printing – which could add another layer to the aesthetic process. But with slide film, the look was created in-camera.

    My approach with these picture controls is to go back to that way of thinking. I dont miss film except maybe for contact-sheets. But to move on does not mean, to coin an English phrase, throw the baby out with the bathwater. Keep the best of film, add it to the best of digital.

    Shooting in a pre-decided aesthetic in camera really helps me form ideas about the finished shot and it certainly helps me hunt for subjects that suit the aesthetic I am shooting in.

  3. I'm guilty of that; when I picked up digital I quickly began attributing the aesthetic to post. My thought process until very recently was, "Let me get the shot and I'll figure out how to process it in post." Which explains why my steam is a hodgepodge of styles. Very recently I've come to realize that there's only two or three styles I care about, and it dawned on me that I ought to be looking for shots that play to their strengths. It hadn't occurred to me though to try shooting for a single style for an entire outing

  4. +Leo Deegan It's a common thing, that feeling you described about how you approached digital. There are, too, may times when the shot can be as much or more about what happens in post-production. It all depends on the type of shot that is required. I have some clients who need something from me that isn't always 100% possible to do in-camera.

    One thing, for me, is always constant: there is a notion of what is 'the finished picture'. Depending on the circumstances, the way you reach that finished shot is different. If we call the finished shot '100%', part of that is always going to occur in-camera. The percentage of in-camera vs post changes depending on the need at hand.

    The other thing to think about is how what we get with the camera compares to two things:

    1. How our subject actually is.
    2. How we perceive it.

    In many respects mastering photography is all about narrowing the gap between what we see in our mind's eye and what we are able to achieve with the camera. That extends to post-production too. What we achieve with a combination of camera and post-production tools.

    There are two other big things at play for me every time I take a photo:

    1. Experiencing the subject is usually best done on-site, whilst I am with my subject. Re-imagining it after the event is always part of the mix but if I am trying to get a picture that is as close to how I imagined the world I was shooting at the time I shot it, getting the job done in-camera is preferred.

    2. I use the computer for many many things these days. The darkroom was a space only for photography. The kind of place the darkroom was for me? a place to contemplate, relax. A place that was quiet, dark, meditative. The computer is not really these things for me, so much anyway. I like to be just looking to finish, polish things in the computer. I dont want to spend ages editing my shots.

  5. I really appreciate your sharing your thoughts on this subject, it's definitely something for me to practice, not only intentionally pre-imagining how I want the shot to come out but also understanding what in frame will play to the strengths of that final outcome.

    I have already inched towards this goal somewhat. I do recognize poorer lighting conditions and can predict the low-contrast result that will occur. If it's not the look I'm going for, I stop myself from taking the shot.

  6. +Leo Deegan I actually enjoy poor lighting conditions to some extent. They really force me to be on my technical "A" game to have a chance at getting what I want. That said, I don't do photography to pay the bills, so for me the fussing with things in post is actually something I frequently specifically plan for (HDR, stitching, dark frame subtraction, etc…). I'm also shooting a Pentax so the EXIF preview is the only thing I can preserve reliably after the event which would contain much in-camera styling (I haven't tested RAW + monochrome yet).
    What +Alfie Goodrich said about getting everything as close in-camera as possible still applies however. Data that ain't there just ain't there, film or digital. I do a lot of my "mode switching" between my ears, as for me it is now second nature to envision a finished result (or even several possible options, depending on how I use the camera) prior to actually triggering the shutter. (This does not immunize one from shooting duds. We all do that from time to time.)

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