Every once in a while, an article we post here at PL creates huge debates due to disagreements between readers and the poster, or between readers themselves on a photography-related subject. Sometimes such discussions lead to very productive results, with all parties learning something from each other. Other times, all we see is provocative and sometimes even insulting comments. One such article that contained a little bit of both was Tom Stirr’s recent post on post-processing difficult images. Before hitting the “Publish” button (and yes, I do personally publish every single article here at PL for different reasons), I already knew that it would spark up some discussions.
First, the post contained unorthodox methods of post-processing RAW files. Tom used a combination of different software tools such as DxO Optics Pro, Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Nik Software (now Google Nik Collection) to take a sample RAW file from a recent air show and process it using his workflow. Second, the post had a rather long list of steps in Photoshop that could have been avoided by using either Adobe Camera RAW or Lightroom (per commenters), before the file was taken into Photoshop. And lastly, the final image looked drastically different from the original, with a lot more “pop” and saturation to make it look more vibrant – something that a lot of traditional photographers often dislike with their “no post-processing allowed” attitudes. Although the latter was thankfully not the subject of discussion, Tom’s choice of software and his steps were brought into question. The reaction to his post was negatively greeted by a few readers, who not only strongly disagreed with Tom’s methodology, but also blamed him for being a bad teacher for introducing unnecessary steps and software. Some of the key words used were “poor workflow”, “bad practice”, “unacceptable workflow for a beginner”, “unbelievably stupid process” and much more.
Despite Tom’s efforts in explaining the fact that the post was not about educating readers, but rather to show the specific steps he took to post-process his images from his “Photographing aircraft in flight with the Tamron 150-600mm lens” article (which he generously shared in response to a request from a reader), the comments kept on coming.
I wrote this article in response to such feedback and discussions. First of all, as the title of this article states, choice is a beautiful thing. It gives us options. It allows us to do what we want, when we want and how we want. It is your choice to come to this site and read it. It is your choice to read articles by your favorite author. It is your choice to share your wisdom and knowledge with others. Similarly, it is Tom’s choice to use DxO over Lightroom, so why blame him for doing something that you, or the rest of the world does not agree with? Many will not agree with my opinions, but I don’t blame them – they have their right and choice to do so. If I only gathered like-minded people in our PL team, you would have been bored to death with one-sided opinions. And God forbid, if our team at PL sat down and tried to express our political, religious and photography views, it would get real ugly. We respect our difference of opinion and our choices and when we do disagree, we try to do it in a civilized manner. John did not agree with Roman’s opinion on the 18-300mm lens, so he wrote his own, pretty funny response in his 18-300mm Part Deux article. Bob absolutely hated the Nikon Df and expressed his opinion in his “In the Nikon Df Crossfire – Heart vs Head” article. And I, on the other hand, absolutely loved what the Nikon Df offers, so I wrote my Nikon Df Rebuttal. To date, neither I, nor my wife regret selling the Nikon D3s and replacing it with the Df for shooting weddings. But if someone disagrees with me, that’s OK. I am not forcing anyone to change just because I made that choice. I always welcome opinion and feedback, because I believe that healthy criticism and discussions positively affect our work. But when we start making comparisons, telling others that our “tools” are superior, those discussions do not help anyone. There are better ways to express your opinion, rather than leaving rude comments. None of us here at PL ever said that we are the masters of photography and everything we do is right. We learn every day and take the time to share what we know with others. If you think you can do a better job or know better ways, please help us and thousands of others by sharing your knowledge. After-all, we work hard and volunteer to share what we know and have learned so far with you, our dear readers.
As I have said above, this is not the first time (and I bet not the last time either) we have had such reactions to articles. Bob got some heat about over-saturating colors in his Searching for Gold piece, while Sharif’s article on Wildlife Photography sparked up debates on what the term “wildlife” really means. Laura got rained down by Leica fans for her honest Leica M7 review and Lola got some nasty feedback for bringing up global warming in her Weekly Photography News #2 and oh boy…how many times have I been ridiculed by not only our readers, but also other websites on the Internet for some of my articles and reviews. It has been a great journey for many of us. Still, we all know very little and want to continue to learn to improve.
On Workflows and Standards
There is no such thing as a “generally accepted workflow” or a “standard” when it comes to photography. And considering the fact that photography by itself is a form of art, it will always remain subjective. As I have defined in my photography workflow article, it is totally up to you on how you want to establish your workflow. So if Tom chooses a combination of DxO, Adobe and Google software for post-processing his images and make them part of his workflow, I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. Why should we think that the “generally accepted” way is the best way that everyone must follow?
How many articles have we shared on using Lightroom? Many. How many on using DxO? Tom’s was the first. And certainly not the last – we really want to expand our coverage to even more software and tools. Any Gimp users out there? :)
Dare to be different. Do what you like and love what you do. At the end of the day, as long as what you do to get from point A to point B works for you, keep on doing it. If something is not right, you will get it fixed. Who knows, maybe you will invent something useful along the way while taking that different path… And lastly, don’t forget to share what you know, since it only makes this world a better place.