That sounds an odd thing to say. Most people associate digital manipulation with ‘cheating’, but it’s all about the context. This site is all about digital manipulation and I didn’t even use a computer.
Or rather I did, but not in the usual place. This grainy black and white effect was created entirely in-camera, with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III and its in-built Grainy Film Art Filter. The camera also added the border effect and the square crop.
I could have done all this on a computer, but why spend ten minutes on editing that the camera can do right there and then? I could probably finessed the effect a little and I would certainly have more choices over the final look, but I honestly don’t think I could improve on what this Grainy Film Art Filter has done.
That’s not because the camera is better at these effects than Lightroom, Capture One, Exposure X or any of a dozen other great photo editing applications. It’s because the effect was right there on my camera screen as I was taking the pictures.
I could see the crop, I could see the border and I could adjust the exposure, all live, and all in sympathy with the composition and the mood and the lighting.
It’s great to have a multitude of powerful editing tools on a computer, but they are not always the answer. The shoot-first-edit-later approach does allow a lot of control and a whole range of effects you can’t create in a camera. But it has two downsides:
- It gives you an infinite number of choices and alternatives, when often your biggest battle is committing to just one.
- It splits the creative process, so that often when you open the image on your computer you’ve lost the passion of the moment or you’ve forgotten what you were trying to do.
Photography is going through a period of rapid change. Cameras, editing tools and techniques are making all kinds of imagery possible that were never possible before.
But there’s another less obvious shift. Smartphones – and the camera I used for this photograph – can combine these two separate steps into a single action. You can capture your final image there and then, not dilute it with delays. Smartphone photography isn’t just for snappers and influencers; it’s a fascinating alternative for serious creative photography too.
Camera makers need to wake up (Olympus, you’re OK). Smartphone apps can create a dazzling array of effects ‘live’, but shouldn’t ‘proper’ cameras be able to do this too?
Obviously, in-camera effects and smartphone apps can’t do everything a desktop photo editor can and probably never will. This clearly isn’t the end. for desktop photo editors. But it is a warning.