A lot of people have been asking about my photographic process for this trip so I thought I would break it down in a post. As Paul Simon before me, I got a Nikon Camera. A Nikon D80 to be exact. I don’t particularly like it, but unfortunately I didn’t realize that until after the return period had expired. That fact aside, I have been able to coax some pretty satisfactory results out of it with a lot of post work. I am usually shooting at around 800-1000 ISO with Aperture priority fixed at F2.8 for shallow depth of field and quicker exposures for the low light stuff. My main gripe with this camera is the hopelessly inferior auto focus system. It simply DOES NOT WORK. Everyone has been raving about Canons so I think I’ll make the switch in the coming year some time. I have been lusting over the EOS 5D ever since my friend Simon showed me the shots he got with a borrowed one. Really incredible stuff.
I am usually shooting in FINE JPEG as opposed to RAW just to save space. Once in Photoshop I do a lot of color correction using the Shadows, Midrange, and Highlights sections of the color balance dialog. I think that’s the key to really getting the pictures to pop, you have to adjust all the ranges independently. That’s when you start to get some really nice cross processing / Lomo vibes going on. Next I like to use dynamic lighting to bring the range out. The dynamic range of a digital CMOS sensor is nowhere near that of film. Using software effects like Adobe’s Shadow/Highlight or Nikon’s D-Lighting can simulate an expanded dynamic range in a digital image without crossing that thin line into the unnatural looking world of HDR imaging (a technique that intrigues me on a technical level but that can feel overdone and synthetic). Of course, the end result of all this is a rather processed looking image, something some people don’t appreciate but I myself enjoy. People tend to bad mouth digital post processing but this has never made much sense to me. Processing is a huge part of analogue photography but people don’t seem to have much of a problem with that fact. Needless to say, the results I have achieved on this trip have made me a convert to digital photography as an artistic medium. Before I used my digital only for work tasks like product photography and such. Now I feel like I could get away solely with a digital SLR and never look back. I would miss the unpredictable, organic nature of film but I wouldn’t miss the all the extra time and money that goes into analogue photography.
In case you missed the reference in the title, here’s Paul Simon’s Kodachrome, a song that always makes me lament the fact that I was born about 20 years too late.[audio:kodacrome.mp3]