No, this isn’t a Photoshop job, this is part of a RAW image taken while on assignment in outback Australia.
While developing the new Grantourismo website, I had to go back and work on every photo in its original digital RAW file. Not only has the image processing software become better at turning the RAW file into a great TIFF file (the format in which the RAW file is saved after initial processing), but I’ve become much better at interpreting the RAW file and developing it to make the most of the RAW image. But this is one image that no amount of work can fix.
On a trip we did with my trusty Nikon D700’s in Australia for a guidebook commission, the first place we stopped was Alice Springs where we saw a performance of traditional Aboriginal dancing. We then took the train from Alice Springs up to Darwin and on the way Lara snapped a few images of me in gorgeous, golden late afternoon Aussie light. I’d forgotten all about this image until I was scrolling though the photos from that trip.
We always think of digital as being perfect and not suffering from the various failings and mishaps that occurred when we used film and processed film, but evidently it’s not. Rather than being annoyed that this happened, I kind of enjoyed seeing a digital glitch, apparently from a faulty memory card.
The fail-safe of being able to check that image on the back of a screen meant that I quickly took that memory card out and marked it as faulty and never used it again once I had safely downloaded the images from it.
The guarantee that comes with shooting digital on an assignment with a tight deadline is comforting. However, I really miss the pressure that comes with shooting film and the (mostly) joyful feeling of putting a set of slides up on a light-box and checking them out for the first time. That element of surprise I had when seeing a digital image being flawed reminded me of those days.
Seeing that photograph reminded me that I need to shoot some film again. Perhaps I’ll take a camera like a Fuji GA645 and experiment with snapping another portrait after the ‘real’ portrait is done. Even if that camera is essentially a medium format point and shoot, it should satisfy my yearning to work with film once again.
I really miss that element of surprise and the imperfections that come with shooting film. I’ll be hunting down a camera like that when we’re next back in Bangkok.