It’s in the Edit

In recent months I have got into the habit of watching a couple of YouTube videos of an evening before bed. I’m not a big TV watcher, preferring music, but as I’ve got a little older I have found I’ve enjoyed the visual experience more, especially since I discovered all the photography Vlogs and channels. They didn’t have these when I were a lad!

© Dave Whenham

Please form an orderly queue …

Now, if we are honest, there is some real dross out there. There’s also some good content that is lost in poor production values; usually I can’t wade through it to the end which is a shame. Equally there’s some slick presentation that tries, unsuccessfully for me, to dress up poor content. But, there are some gems which make the lottery of searching for them worthwhile.

Some of the best come, unsurprisingly, from working photographers, often with workshops to sell or premium video content they want you to purchase. Here you see better production values and also if you have the patience to watch a series of them chronologically you can often see the quality of the videos improving – the presentation, narration, camera work, editing and overall feel evolving in front of you.

I watched one last night, it’s concept was simple yet effective. Photographer on location recording a narrative to a small handheld camera whilst exploring a location, setting up his main gear and then showing the finished images. It is a concept I’ve seen many times and done properly it works well, especially when the presenter is chatting through his thought process as if it were a real workshop rather than pontificating or being pretentious as often happens. On a beach, exploring the intimate landscapes (my phrase, not theirs) and creating some lovely images for our enjoyment. What came home to me quite forcibly though was the importance of the edit. He never spoke about editing, simply explained what he was doing and why, interspersing it with what he was thinking about at the time. No doubt there is a video for that aspect that I’ve not yet seen. But when you looked through the vlogging lens and then at the finished image it was clear that he gave as much thought and attention to processing his images as he did to capturing them in the first place.

Which is how it should be in my mind. Modern photography is not a one-shot process (no pun intended). It has always involved a minimum of two steps – creating the negative and then the print is perhaps an easy way to categorise it if slightly simplistic.

I spend a lot of time “getting it right in camera” simply because it appeals to the technician in me, the need to solve problems and think on your feet, using whatever tools where to hand. But, and its an important but, I rarely consider that I’m producing the finished article at that stage. I will often be thinking ahead to how I’m going to process the image which helps in the decision making process at the point of capture too. Even simple things like how I might crop the image can influence how I make the initial exposure. If I know it will be a square crop I will put the intended content in the middle of the frame so I can tweak the crop left or right as needed. It also uses the best part of the sensor, at least in theory, but that is less of a consideration than the practicality of having a bit of wiggle room when making the crop later.

Don’t misunderstand me though, I enjoy “straight out of camera” (SOOC) photography and have written before about the benefits of the Fuji JPEGs in this regard.