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Time For A Major Philosophy Change?


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#61 Jock

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 12:04 PM

I rarely shoot macro because there doesn't seem much demand for it outside fish ID books and photography competitions.


This is it. If you make your living from U/W photography, you need to meet a demand, and only the final result counts, no matter how it is achieved.

I am an amateur who takes photos just for fun. Meanwhile, I enjoy TAKING photos much more than the results. Strange? Maybe. But there are so many phantastic photos araound that there is nothing special in such a photo anymore. Just look at the galleries here. 10 years ago this such a large number of phantastic photos would have been absolutely impossible. but now...

So for me, I just have MY personal fun, and I am proud when I shoot a photo that is (IMHO) almost perfect without postprocessing.

I am sure that the guys who take photos with a SNOOT on their strobes are also very proud if they get this one perfect shot - but a photo pro told me last summer that she thinks this is one of the most unnecessary tools in U/W photography - "Why don't they just do it in Photoshop???" She is right, isn't she :swimmingfish: ?

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Edited by Jock, 02 March 2012 - 12:05 PM.

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#62 davichin

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 12:15 PM

...but a photo pro told me last summer that she thinks this is one of the most unnecessary tools in U/W photography - "Why don't they just do it in Photoshop???" She is right, isn't she :swimmingfish: ?

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#63 Andrej Belic

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 12:44 PM

Are we really ready to cut the apron strings to the slide film era?

The Lytro camera goes on sale today - and for me it represents a line in the sand on our thinking about what is a photograph. It is a change in philosophy that I struggle to come to terms with, but feel that it is one I probably should take on board. The issue is: with changes in camera technology, should we still strive for the finished image in camera, or not?

This is all a hang up from the slide film era. A time when many current underwater photographers started out - and it dominates how we think of images. Even for those who have only shot digital pictures underwater. But as Peter Scoones has pointed out to me (on more than one occasion) the purity of a slide is just a hang up from when you started underwater photography. It was never the originator underwater - seeing it as such is just a relict view from a certain period in the history of underwater imaging (read more here). It is predated by black and white print film photography, which involved as much post processing as we now routinely do with digital. It some ways the slide era is the exception, not the rule underwater.

Yet, I find myself, still stuck with most of the hangups of the 35mm slide. I still strive to create images bang on in camera and always value less images that have required lots of cropping or adjustment. The point of this thread is to ask, should I?

The Lytro technology is perhaps the most obvious example of this, with its ability to refocus the image after shooting. But the reality is that we have been living with multiple examples for many years. HDR is an obvious one - that most people will have tried - where the post processing makes an image not possible in camera. Nikon's new cameras now offer in-camera HDR for JPG shooting - where this is all done in camera as you shoot (I have tried this on the D800 and it works). This is an underwater HDR, assembled from 5 shots to open up the shadows in a wreck (shot with D700):



Perhaps a more pertinent area is that of super-macro. Creating a tack-sharp super macro photo can be a real challenge. With razor thin depth of field and the challenges of aiming and losses in optical quality with some solutions. This picture was taken with my reversed lens combo and is the highest magnification shot I have done underwater. These blennies are very small - one of the smallest blenny species - hard to tell from this photo (for those not familiar with Caribbean critters):



It is not the best example, because I know people don't appreciate how small this guy is. I should go and shoot pygmies with this setup - everyone is more familiar with them. So, it is probably easier to show the magnification of this setup with these test shots I made when working on the system - with a comparison between a straight 105mm (top), a 105mm and Subsee +10 (middle, a very high magnification setup - that many are familiar with) and my reversed lens setup (bottom, which is another level on again):



All very impressive. But should I be bothering. Why don't I just crop back to the eyeball - the shot would be 100 times easier to take and I would have more depth of field too. Don't laugh, with Nikon's D800 now having 36 megapixels and I am sure that Canon's 5D Mk3 (which I heard was to be announced very soon) likely to have something similar - we can crop away and have plenty of resolution for reproduction - especially in an increasingly online media. I had a discussion on Facebook recently - and opinions were very varied - plenty of supporters in both camps.

These are just a couple of examples. There are plenty more.

In conclusion, I guess my question is what do others feel? Slide thinking (getting everything perfect in camera) certainly dominates my shooting philosophy. But I am not sure it is the best thing for my photography in this day and age? Should I be freeing my mind and accepting that technology should be changing how I feel about what is a photo? And should contests etc - be changing too. Should more extensive cropping be allowed - many now allow HDR and focus stacking? Are fotosub style - JPGs in camera a relict?

I am not mentally ready for all these changes - so I am hoping for some convincing!

Alex

p.s. Please don't hijack this into a Lytro discussion. We all can see in its current form it is limited - but it is fun, fascinating and thought provoking technology. I remember the first digital I tried underwater (almost 15 years ago now - wow, time flies) and we all thought it was fun, but not serious technology and went back to our slides. And now Kodak has filed for bankruptcy.



Alex, I've to admit. This is the coolest wreck picture I've ever seen. HDR is the way of the future!

#64 Drew

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 12:58 PM

Andrej, it's already here. There are cameras now which take 14mp 18 stop shots @60fps, albeit it has to be processed in post. The computer is now the new PA,communicator,encyclopedia and so many other duties on top of being a digital dark room. Anyone who says it's not clearly isn't living in the 21st century. Now with the amount of damage we're doing to the planet to get computers made/run etc., it may be said it's shortlived too! :swimmingfish:

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#65 Timmoranuk

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 02:05 PM

For what its worth, I believe we are at a threshold. The analogy I would use is mobile phones. Try buying one without email, instant messaging, internet, gps, wifi, camera, video...

The functionality of our technology is driven by the manufacturers. Once, we shot (topside) with silver halide and magnesium 'flash', but we moved on and, probably then, much to the chargin of the purists.

Technology advances, opportunity increases but the wisdom of its use remains with the user. We (wetpixelers ?) seek excellence and would probably be deprived of that if we relied on technology to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Today, I see my Photoshop skills as only average. I do not have enough time in my life to process, however enjoyably, my images in 'raw' photoshop. So much of my Photoshop processing is done with Nik Software plugins which simplfy and enhance my workflow. Maybe in doing so, I cross a theshold. But my goal is to produce a pleasing image, which reflects either truth or obvious abstract interpretation. Either for me, are better created or significantly helped, in camera.

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#66 TomR1

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 02:31 PM

As a non-professional the real question is how do i challenge myself? I can already wow my friends and i'll never get to Alex's level. So, it's all about me.

One of the things I don't strive for is composition within the frame. I don't consider a 3:2 format a very useful size so I always crop anyway.

However, i do strive to be the best critter finder on the planet, the finest technical photographer in the solar system and the best artist in the universe.

I am proud of exactly 2 shots, the first super-macro shot of a white pigmy. Why am i proud? I found it myself. The second is a colony of tunicates, also a super macro shot. Why am i proud? It shows something beautiful most people have never seen. However, I present a third shot, actually a crop of the White Pigmy shot showing the pigmy's crown.

However, just showing unusual glimpses of nature isn't enough. I want art. That's why I am trying to turn a photograph into a painting, in this case a watercolor.

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#67 cabdiver

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 03:34 PM

Thanks everyone for the comments so far. In many ways opinions are the most important thing here.

I have a traditional outlook - I guess that was my reason for posting. But I am beginning to conclude that this point of view might be a drawback and does it really have any justification?

Alex


As your question implies, there is no right or wrong on this. For me, diving opened a beautiful world that very few of us ever see. I was drawn to UW photography as a way to try to capture that beauty and take it home with me. As I've gained experience, I've found that just taking underwater snapshots (photos where the fish or reef is recognizable) is not enough.

I'd love to progress in my technical ability to be able to touch the art of underwater photography (defined by me as creating images that convey some of that beauty and emotion to both my fellow divers and 'unenlightened' friends).

The odds of achieving my goal are very low if I don't continue to work very hard on the 'in camera' capture side of the equation. I am also devoting a lot of time to understanding the 'digital darkroom' side of the equation. With time, I'll be able to see progress.

The risk for me is to allow the software to become a bandaid instead of a tool to better understand what is possible.

In closing, I think we are all on different but similar paths and can use these tools to reach our individual goals/visions.

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#68 chidiver

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 04:55 PM

I've always been mystified by the "purists" who insisted the essence of a photo was limited to what was captured by a mechanical/electronic device at a point in time. Full disclosure: I grew up in the digital era.

Also, photographers like Ansel Adams might have a thing or two to say about this, as he used every darkroom technique available to him to execute on his artistic vision and show the world the beauty and majesty of his subject matter in print. Photo capture was just step 1. Post processing in the darkroom was just another piece of his artistic workflow towards an end product. Why should it be any different today through computers.

I guess I have a relatively simplistic view on art....an artist is allowed any tool available to present his/her artistic vision. All the fancy tools in the world don't make the artist...but they may make it more possible that he/she will be able to execute on a unique idea. For example...I have spent days trying to put together HDR images! Just because there are new and fancy tools, doesn't mean its any easier!

BTW...I'd rather see a cropped photo of a tiny rare subject than see the aftermath of "purists" who thrashed a coral/sea fan/gorgonian in order to get that "perfect" shot!

#69 graffa

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 08:55 PM

Are we really ready to cut the apron strings to the slide film era?

The Lytro camera goes on sale today - and for me it represents a line in the sand on our thinking about what is a photograph. It is a change in philosophy that I struggle to come to terms with, but feel that it is one I probably should take on board. The issue is: with changes in camera technology, should we still strive for the finished image in camera, or not?

This is all a hang up from the slide film era. A time when many current underwater photographers started out - and it dominates how we think of images. Even for those who have only shot digital pictures underwater. But as Peter Scoones has pointed out to me (on more than one occasion) the purity of a slide is just a hang up from when you started underwater photography. It was never the originator underwater - seeing it as such is just a relict view from a certain period in the history of underwater imaging (read more here). It is predated by black and white print film photography, which involved as much post processing as we now routinely do with digital. It some ways the slide era is the exception, not the rule underwater.

Yet, I find myself, still stuck with most of the hangups of the 35mm slide. I still strive to create images bang on in camera and always value less images that have required lots of cropping or adjustment. The point of this thread is to ask, should I?

The Lytro technology is perhaps the most obvious example of this, with its ability to refocus the image after shooting. But the reality is that we have been living with multiple examples for many years. HDR is an obvious one - that most people will have tried - where the post processing makes an image not possible in camera. Nikon's new cameras now offer in-camera HDR for JPG shooting - where this is all done in camera as you shoot (I have tried this on the D800 and it works). This is an underwater HDR, assembled from 5 shots to open up the shadows in a wreck (shot with D700):



Perhaps a more pertinent area is that of super-macro. Creating a tack-sharp super macro photo can be a real challenge. With razor thin depth of field and the challenges of aiming and losses in optical quality with some solutions. This picture was taken with my reversed lens combo and is the highest magnification shot I have done underwater. These blennies are very small - one of the smallest blenny species - hard to tell from this photo (for those not familiar with Caribbean critters):



It is not the best example, because I know people don't appreciate how small this guy is. I should go and shoot pygmies with this setup - everyone is more familiar with them. So, it is probably easier to show the magnification of this setup with these test shots I made when working on the system - with a comparison between a straight 105mm (top), a 105mm and Subsee +10 (middle, a very high magnification setup - that many are familiar with) and my reversed lens setup (bottom, which is another level on again):



All very impressive. But should I be bothering. Why don't I just crop back to the eyeball - the shot would be 100 times easier to take and I would have more depth of field too. Don't laugh, with Nikon's D800 now having 36 megapixels and I am sure that Canon's 5D Mk3 (which I heard was to be announced very soon) likely to have something similar - we can crop away and have plenty of resolution for reproduction - especially in an increasingly online media. I had a discussion on Facebook recently - and opinions were very varied - plenty of supporters in both camps.

These are just a couple of examples. There are plenty more.

In conclusion, I guess my question is what do others feel? Slide thinking (getting everything perfect in camera) certainly dominates my shooting philosophy. But I am not sure it is the best thing for my photography in this day and age? Should I be freeing my mind and accepting that technology should be changing how I feel about what is a photo? And should contests etc - be changing too. Should more extensive cropping be allowed - many now allow HDR and focus stacking? Are fotosub style - JPGs in camera a relict?

I am not mentally ready for all these changes - so I am hoping for some convincing!

Alex

p.s. Please don't hijack this into a Lytro discussion. We all can see in its current form it is limited - but it is fun, fascinating and thought provoking technology. I remember the first digital I tried underwater (almost 15 years ago now - wow, time flies) and we all thought it was fun, but not serious technology and went back to our slides. And now Kodak has filed for bankruptcy.



#70 graffa

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 09:03 PM

I think that the difference could be likened to the difference between a photo which captures a specific image at a specific moment in time and a painting that produces a specific image over a period of time. These both require specific skills and if used in conjunction can create beautiful images.

#71 John Bantin

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 12:23 AM

I think that the difference could be likened to the difference between a photo which captures a specific image at a specific moment in time and a painting that produces a specific image over a period of time. These both require specific skills and if used in conjunction can create beautiful images.


Spot on!

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#72 davichin

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 02:33 AM

For me it is more the trip than the destination. Today there is a helicopter that can take you to the top of Everest (or K2, which is a far more desired climb)



but, where is the fun in that? even when we use ropes, jumars, new technology clothes etc... the fun is in climbing or trying to climb (even if we are unsuccesful) the mountain. I think the analogy is clear, I prefer to struggle trying to make the picture underwater (the previous poster snoot example is a good one) than taking a regular picture knowing that I will very much photoshop it at home (like masking and making it look like a snooted pic). It is just a matter of how each one of us enjoy this sport-craft-żart? I, of course, also use photoshop etc... it is just not so fun for me but I understand that there other that really enjoy (probably because, unlike me, know well how to use it) using it, even more than diving.

BTW...I'd rather see a cropped photo of a tiny rare subject than see the aftermath of "purists" who thrashed a coral/sea fan/gorgonian in order to get that "perfect" shot!


There are some unsettling implications in that statement... Maybe you may want to elaborate? Because someone could also say:

BTW...I´d rather see an experienced "purist" photographer and diver waiting patiently for the perfect moment before shooting than a newbie not perfectly knowing how to maintain buoyancy with a new heavy dslr kit hitting everything and having to shoot 50+ times before leaving the flashed out poor tiny rare subject alone...

Generalizing is always wrong and we can all do it...
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#73 John Bantin

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 02:57 AM

For me it is more the trip than the destination. Today there is a helicopter that can take you to the top of Everest (or K2, which is a far more desired climb)



but, where is the fun in that? even when we use ropes, jumars, new technology clothes etc... the fun is in climbing or trying to climb (even if we are unsuccesful) the mountain. I think the analogy is clear, I prefer to struggle trying to make the picture underwater (the previous poster snoot example is a good one) than taking a regular picture knowing that I will very much photoshop it at home (like masking and making it look like a snooted pic). It is just a matter of how each one of us enjoy this sport-craft-żart? I, of course, also use photoshop etc... it is just not so fun for me but I understand that there other that really enjoy (probably because, unlike me, know well how to use it) using it, even more than diving.



There are some unsettling implications in that statement... Maybe you may want to elaborate? Because someone could also say:

BTW...I´d rather see an experienced "purist" photographer and diver waiting patiently for the perfect moment before shooting than a newbie not perfectly knowing how to maintain buoyancy with a new heavy dslr kit hitting everything and having to shoot 50+ times before leaving the flashed out poor tiny rare subject alone...

Generalizing is always wrong and we can all do it...


I know what you mean. I have 20-years-worthof pictures from monthly diving trips. A friend asked me if I actually NEEDED to take any more pictures? Probably not and thanks to my more recently acquired computer skills I can now use most of them - but what would I do otherwise? Swim about looking at things?

Edited by John Bantin, 03 March 2012 - 02:57 AM.

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#74 loftus

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 04:06 AM

Now here are some pics to get you thinking

http://dark-liquid.c...rdi-rizkiyanto/
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#75 Paul Kay

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 04:33 AM

One of the problem we face is in determining exactly how we define modifications to images. As (not underwater) examples, here are two images. Which represents reality better, and which is more manipulated?
Plantation.jpg D0079916a.jpg
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#76 John Bantin

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 04:37 AM

Has anyone got a copy of that marine diver climbing the ladder of a helicopter under the Golden Gate bridge with a great white shark snapping at his heels? It was doing the rounds a few years ago and it fooled our news editor for a while (until we gave him a good slap!).

Paul, it must be the one on the right if it was shot in North Wales because you've NEVER had a blue sky!

Edited by John Bantin, 03 March 2012 - 04:38 AM.

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#77 Paul Kay

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 05:12 AM

Paul, it must be the one on the right if it was shot in North Wales because you've NEVER had a blue sky!

You've obviously never visited north Wales John, its always sunny with blue skies - merely a well kept secret.
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#78 danielandrewclem

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 06:28 AM

Has anyone got a copy of that marine diver climbing the ladder of a helicopter under the Golden Gate bridge with a great white shark snapping at his heels? It was doing the rounds a few years ago and it fooled our news editor for a while (until we gave him a good slap!).

Here's the Snopes page about that image: http://www.snopes.co...imals/shark.asp
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#79 John Bantin

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 07:26 AM

Here's the Snopes page about that image: http://www.snopes.co...imals/shark.asp


Pirouetting pigmy seahorses! Alex, eat your heart out! Now THAT was photoshop!

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#80 sea squirt

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 08:13 AM

here is my tuppence worth which is partly tinged with my professional work as a radiologist. This has been affected by the digital era and the quality of images provided for reporting has declined due to the increased exposure latitude. Radiographs are often poorly "framed" and badly exposed but we can obtain a diagnostic image by on screen manipulation. However this is a poor substitute for a well taken film in the first place.

several aspects to this

firstly quality of the initial image: there are metaphors which help such as you cannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear or in audiophile terms garbage in garbage out. If you start of with a poor image you may improve it but it is unlikely ever to become great. In other words the effort put into a shot usually pays its dividend in the final result

Film tended to make me think about the shot as I only had 36 exposures but I had stopped improving as I would have one dive trip a year and would have to wait for my slides to be processed. Digital has been a liberation and allowed me to progress because I can see the results immediately and make adjustments and take more images until I achieve something I like.

My pictures may not win prizes but I enjoy taking them and others seem to enjoy looking at them even if they are only being polite

secondly why do we take pictures anyway - there are probably as many answers as there are photographers, some want a memory, some want to take a truly stunning and individual image and enjoy the process of striving for this (maybe I will one day?) others want a snapshot to show their friends and family. Each is a perfectly valid reason and everyone should should be free to get on with what they want.

thirdly post processing has as others say always existed and for me part of the fun of photography was the time in the darkroom spent on the image. Slide photography (and old fashioned X rays) is the only time this does not apply.

fourthly what is art - surely it is more than the original image it is a combination of the effect it has on the viewer visually and emotionally. If post processing alters that impact then what is the problem?

My perspective is that as long as no one is passing things off as fakes then what harm is there? Lets enjoy ourselves and be as expressive as possible using the tools at our disposal. If you start with a good photograph (or X-ray) it will always show in the finished product. No doubt folk will come up with quirky effects using lytro etc but if the point and shoot attitude espoused is widely taken up there will be many more rejects than successes. Embrace the technology but striving to take the right image to work with will always be best in the end.

d




Are we really ready to cut the apron strings to the slide film era?

The Lytro camera goes on sale today - and for me it represents a line in the sand on our thinking about what is a photograph. It is a change in philosophy that I struggle to come to terms with, but feel that it is one I probably should take on board. The issue is: with changes in camera technology, should we still strive for the finished image in camera, or not?

This is all a hang up from the slide film era. A time when many current underwater photographers started out - and it dominates how we think of images. Even for those who have only shot digital pictures underwater. But as Peter Scoones has pointed out to me (on more than one occasion) the purity of a slide is just a hang up from when you started underwater photography. It was never the originator underwater - seeing it as such is just a relict view from a certain period in the history of underwater imaging (read more here). It is predated by black and white print film photography, which involved as much post processing as we now routinely do with digital. It some ways the slide era is the exception, not the rule underwater.

Yet, I find myself, still stuck with most of the hangups of the 35mm slide. I still strive to create images bang on in camera and always value less images that have required lots of cropping or adjustment. The point of this thread is to ask, should I?

The Lytro technology is perhaps the most obvious example of this, with its ability to refocus the image after shooting. But the reality is that we have been living with multiple examples for many years. HDR is an obvious one - that most people will have tried - where the post processing makes an image not possible in camera. Nikon's new cameras now offer in-camera HDR for JPG shooting - where this is all done in camera as you shoot (I have tried this on the D800 and it works). This is an underwater HDR, assembled from 5 shots to open up the shadows in a wreck (shot with D700):



Perhaps a more pertinent area is that of super-macro. Creating a tack-sharp super macro photo can be a real challenge. With razor thin depth of field and the challenges of aiming and losses in optical quality with some solutions. This picture was taken with my reversed lens combo and is the highest magnification shot I have done underwater. These blennies are very small - one of the smallest blenny species - hard to tell from this photo (for those not familiar with Caribbean critters):



It is not the best example, because I know people don't appreciate how small this guy is. I should go and shoot pygmies with this setup - everyone is more familiar with them. So, it is probably easier to show the magnification of this setup with these test shots I made when working on the system - with a comparison between a straight 105mm (top), a 105mm and Subsee +10 (middle, a very high magnification setup - that many are familiar with) and my reversed lens setup (bottom, which is another level on again):



All very impressive. But should I be bothering. Why don't I just crop back to the eyeball - the shot would be 100 times easier to take and I would have more depth of field too. Don't laugh, with Nikon's D800 now having 36 megapixels and I am sure that Canon's 5D Mk3 (which I heard was to be announced very soon) likely to have something similar - we can crop away and have plenty of resolution for reproduction - especially in an increasingly online media. I had a discussion on Facebook recently - and opinions were very varied - plenty of supporters in both camps.

These are just a couple of examples. There are plenty more.

In conclusion, I guess my question is what do others feel? Slide thinking (getting everything perfect in camera) certainly dominates my shooting philosophy. But I am not sure it is the best thing for my photography in this day and age? Should I be freeing my mind and accepting that technology should be changing how I feel about what is a photo? And should contests etc - be changing too. Should more extensive cropping be allowed - many now allow HDR and focus stacking? Are fotosub style - JPGs in camera a relict?

I am not mentally ready for all these changes - so I am hoping for some convincing!

Alex

p.s. Please don't hijack this into a Lytro discussion. We all can see in its current form it is limited - but it is fun, fascinating and thought provoking technology. I remember the first digital I tried underwater (almost 15 years ago now - wow, time flies) and we all thought it was fun, but not serious technology and went back to our slides. And now Kodak has filed for bankruptcy.