A New Division: “OOC” vs. Post Processing

Roving around the photo forums, it is impossible not to notice how much opinions differ about even the tiniest details. I’m not talking about out-and-out trolling and antagonism, but honest opinions that, in isolation, seem to make perfectly good sense. In one discussion a poster was determined to buy only lenses that had no “vignetting“ (a reduction in brightness toward the image periphery) even at their widest aperture. In addition to wishing him good luck with that quest, although I didn’t actually participate in the discussion, I couldn’t help wondering why he felt so strongly about that particular characteristic when it is trivial to correct in just about any post-processing software. I am much more concerned with sharpness, contrast, and other parameters that affect the overall character of the images. Vignetting is easy. And then the obvious hit me: that person probably shoots JPEG, does not do any post processing, and uses third-party lenses that his camera does not support with in-camera corrections. Fair enough, and a reminder that there are a multitude of ways to approach photography.

I shoot RAW and spend a considerable amount of time doing post processing. To me, time spent tweaking images in front of the computer is just as enjoyable as going out and shooting. Getting the right balance between shooting and processing is part of the fun, and just using JPEGs straight out of the camera would bore me silly. But of course, that’s just me.

For those who haven’t figured it out already, “OOC” in the post title stands for Out Of Camera. Another variation is “SOOC” for Straight Out Of Camera. The fact that acronyms exist for that particular approach indicates it has become established as a genre. This creates two large categories of photographers: those who post process and those who don’t. All other categories can, potentially, fall into either, although I suspect that the majority of landscape, portrait, and fashion photographers, just as examples, depend on post processing to finish their images. The OOC camp probably centers more around street and travel styles. Smartphone photography, which has also become a genre in itself, is by nature OOC. So there’s a division that I hadn’t really paid much attention to, but will keep in mind so I can maintain a more balanced view in future discussions.

Returning to the vignetting issue for just a moment, I often add subtle vignetting to my images during post processing to nudge the viewer’s eye towards the image center. I know other photographers who do the same, so it’s not just me. Try it if you haven’t already. Some delicate vignetting can sometimes result in a significant improvement.

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