To sim or not to sim.

Why digital film simulations screw with your head.

For some digital photographers, it’s easier: shoot raw, edit, save. These processes are essential and non negotiable.

For jpeg shooters though processing is optional, because the camera does it for you and you can choose to take it further. Because in camera jpeg customisation is a thing, it leads to the expectation that you could avoid all, or most, post editing. Which kind of leads to the purist wish to perfect your settings, get it right every time in camera, and just enjoy shooting with a consistent look.

A a rare sooc shot I actually liked. Fuji velvia, daylight with a green shift.

Or so it goes in my head. The idea is that a carefully crafted in camera recipe will become your “film”, the digital equivalent of analog.

But this doesn’t lend too well to a fast, spontaneous photography. When you shoot quickly at the spur of the moment, your photos could do with a little of your camera’s automatic magic – if you want them to ‘make sense’ in the way photos are usually meant to.

For example – white balance. Changes in environmental color temperature will mean your set white balance look weirdly differently in different scenarios.

<- Example: The late time of day meant I was continually having to alter exposure. Didn’t get it right here.

If you create a film simulation by setting your cameras settings specifically, they mightn’t suit every situation. For example, it might work at day, but not at night. Right there, your concept of having a digital ‘film’ has flown right out the window. Why cramp your style that much by committing to a simulation you don’t even like half the time? And if you create more than one simulation to use, why bother at all? Doesn’t that destroy the concept of using simulations to create some consistency in your shots?

VSCO for processing JPEG

Now we come to VSCO. It’s simply the best way to quickly add a look to an otherwise standard jpeg.

For the first week or so of my holiday I was shooting classic chrome jpeg, which is slightly cool, contrasty and desaturated, and plugging that into whatever VSCO flim looked best. It’s a really fun process! Here’s a gallery of a few.

I’ve decided not to worry about it too much. If a photo needs a few quick edits, so be it. I try not to misrepresent reality too much. Photography should be fun, not a head fuck. And if VSCO makes “editing” a photo so quick and easy, why not?

And in truth, it’s still not really editing in comparison to how people edit with Lightroom etc, messing severely with shadows and highlights to create the slickest possible image – ie the kind of thing I REALLY want to avoid.

Black and White

Recipes work much better for black and white photography though. But in this case, there’s not that much to actually set, so why bother really?

Black and white conversions still bug me slight though. I like committing to black and white or Color. It just feels more satisfying. Here’s an example of a conversion (below), while the feature image at the top of this post is an example of straight out of camera that I’m happy with.

I’ve been tweaking black and white shots a little in Apple Photos though, which makes me feel guilty as fuck for some reason! I’m trying not to worry and just go with it, but I feel I’m still missing something in my process – something that ties it all together. Stay tuned lol.