2017 | A Year of Water by Simon Ng

This is a selection of the photographs that are most memorable for me from the year that was (2017). Are they the best I've taken this year? I am probably not well placed to say, but I do know that for each one I felt something profound as I stood where I stood to capture the scene. Maybe excitement, maybe a deep sense of peace, maybe a connectedness, maybe wonder. 

Read More

Lorne Roadtrip by Simon Ng

A few days ago, I peeled potatoes...well, actually, I took photographs. So why the quote? Because for me, making photos is a bit like peeling potatoes for a Zen master. I can do it for hours, living in the immediate moment, just being.   

Read More

Shakespeare and Photography by Simon Ng

To Be, Or Not To Be...

         W.S.

 

I might also have called this ‘colour or black & white’, but Shakespeare rocks, so I went with the current title.

Nick Melidonis recently wrote in Better Photography 89 that “stripping away colour is the first step towards embracing the abstract”. Colour is intoxicating. If you jump on Instagram or 500px and look at the photographs, you’ll quickly see that vibrant colour (sometimes saturation) makes images more appealing. As human beings, we are predisposed to colour like we are predisposed to sugar and fat. 

But colour is also a distraction. Black and white imagery (good black and white imagery) is sustained by good composition. Without that it has nothing else to hang its hat on. That doesn’t mean you should only shoot in black and white: shoot colour and then convert. But shooting only in black and white does focus the mind on shape and form, as Richard White suggests in Better Photography 85.  

So now for the comparison—a test of sorts. I’ve placed here two images, both created from the same RAW file. The first (before) is the colour image that I took. The second (after) is its black and white ‘twin’, if I can use that conceit.  

So which is it: to be, or not to be...? Does the image on the right reveal things that the image on the left doesn’t? Or does it fall short in some way because the composition isn't strong enough? Leave your comments or advice... 

From RAW to Cooked by Simon Ng

I often get asked the following question by people looking at my photos: so is it Photoshopped? My response is always the same: Sigh. Yes. And the image below shows you why (just move the slider to see what processing does).

I try to explain why this shouldn't be either a surprise or a crime, but whoever asked usually stops listening after about half a sentence. So I'll just put this out there. If you take your photography seriously, there is a reasonable chance (although not a given) that you shoot in RAW and so you need to post-process your shots to make them presentable. If you are a holiday snaps type of guy (or gal), then you almost certainly shoot in JPEG format. If that's the case, guess what: your photos are post-processed by your camera or phone, just not by you. In other words, there isn't a digital photo out there that isn't post-processed. The only distinction is whether it is done without the photographer knowing (or caring) or whether it is a deliberate part of the development of a photograph that the photographer takes responsibility for. 

Enough said.

But the question also begs a different response, and that is what this post is really about. I'm going to show you my workflow, using not Photoshop but Capture One Pro, that turns the before into the after above. This is the cooking of the RAW file to make it presentable. The video below is my first, so I'm still figuring out how to make it professional and polished, and the process I use is not definitive nor necessarily good. But it's my process. So if you want to learn a bit more about what I do, then watch.

Of course, this is an attempt to show my workflow, so the actual image took a little more time and precision, and you can see the actual final product here.