Why Photographic Process is not WYSIWYG ?


On August 24-25th, I’ll animate a workshop  : Why Photographic Process is not WYSIWYG ? ( What You See is What You Get ) and I’ll give you clues and directions to reconcile the perception you had of your surroundings and the image you have captured. By focusing your attention on the way you compose, the mastering of exposure and the post-processing phase, you should obtain great images far beyond your expectations…

Saturday August the 24th and Sunday August the 25th.

Gruchet Saint-Siméon

Haute Normandie


Assignment # 7 : Nature is the Substrate… You model it by Lighting and Composition


Nature is an ever changing theatre. Such or such area can be a no interest site most of the time and, suddenly, become a tremendous spot because of a specific light, a combination of  ephemeral colors or peculiar atmospheric conditions. As a Photographer, you should be aware of all these « out-of-the-range » conditions ! When a storm is about to burst, chances you capture great images are significant. By being there at the right place at the right moment you will multiply the opportunities. Try to identify all these places with some kind of potential in your vicinity.  Frame them in your mind : Be prepared !

Charlie Waite, a sublime Landscape Photographer uses a piece of cardboard with a hole in its center, sized as a viewfinder, to « isolate » the « Nature Piece » that will make the image.  This is a great way to learn composition. By selecting what you place in the empty rectangle is the way you model Nature, the way you build your perception of It.  Seasons will shuffle the cards :  Colors, shapes and volumes are modified… A perfect composition in spring can be fully unbalanced in winter… And that’s great ! Our material is an endless source of Creativity !

Assignment #6 : Always Have a Fresh Look, Even On Things You See Everyday !


Have you ever thought why you make better images when you’re away from Home ? Why do you want to go to Alaska, Patagonia or Colorado for a Photography Experience rather than in the fields behind your house ? These fields Alaskan People dream to visit to make great pictures themselves !!

The reason is simple : You have lost your candid look to what surrounds you in your every day life. When you see the road that leads to your office, you perceive it as a convenience you practice every day. But you do not look at it ! If there is something unusual on it, a splashed hedgehog by instance, yes, you will get the message and try to analyze what your eyes will push to your attention, but in a normal routine, your brain is devoted to thousands of things you have to manage for your business, your domestic life… And that’s normal ! If you push this logic a few steps further, then when you see a tree, even in an area you don’t know, your brain informs you it’s a tree… and… finally, a tree is a tree… Right ? If there are cherries on it, it becomes a high potential interest, if not.. it does not change your life … Right ?

When you go hiking for a Photography session, leave you functional eyes on the coat rack and fit your toddler eyes ! Forget everything that fill up your business life, your worries, your invoices, the train departure tomorrow morning at 7:00, your daughter exams… Just leave the package on the living room table and prepare yourself for contemplation… You may need music to flood your head to facilitate the process…

I have been hundreds and hundreds of time on this beach located near my house in Normandy where I animate my workshops. I have photographed this pier times and times… All the photographs are so different ! Each time I see it, it’s as if it were the first time… I willingly forget all the images I have already done and I broach it as a brand new subject matter at each session… My Alaska is just a few miles away… Hurry up friend ! Go and visit yours !…

Assignment #5 : Always Use A Tripod…


Beyond the certainty to get a sharp and crisp image, using a tripod is an efficient creativity catalyst. I explain : When composing an image, you’ll have to isolate a part of the scenery and force it to inhabit your viewfinder. Remodeling the world is not an easy task ! I’m sure you have already experiment this exercise, and I’m ready to bet, as I do, you stop breathing for a while… time to find the right angle, the right height, the right diagonal and so on… When one of these elements fits right, then it’s another one which  goes wrong… Then you dump your lungs full of bad air and re-insufflate fresh one, lock your inspiration and deep again trying to adjust all the elements in the frame… The problem is, in between, you have moved, the position can be very uncomfortable, unsteady and toilsome… When you think you’ve got it, you press the shutter release in a hurry to be sure you captured the right precise composition… But have you read carefully your viewfinder with serenity ? Certainly not !!

Using a tripod reassure the whole process ! Make your composition, adjust each dimension precisely using the multi-axis handles you have on your tripod head. Evaluate each micro movement you apply. Breathe !… Take a step backward… Breathe again… Get immersed in your recomposed scene… Question yourself on what’s the matter, The reason why, the need for each and every element you’ve included in the composition… Make two, three four steps, leaving all the hardware in place… refresh your mind, shout away with loud music in your ears, let’s your emotion invade your head and your heart, forget everything else but the image you’re making… Be by yourself, ignore the others.. ( that’s why you should be alone when making photographs… ) feel free to chide loudly if you don’t find THE image you want, or to bellow with no restraint if you’ve got it.. That’s Photography inebriation !… That is our pleasure, the one we, and we only, the Photographers…  know…

Last but not least, using a tripod is a technical warranty ! Press the shutter release then check your image ! Sure, the camera monitor is not a faithful proof of what you’ve done.. it’s an interpreted jpeg amputated of a huge quantity of data.. but say, you’ve got an idea ! The key element is the histogram ! Is it OK ? did I clipped ? What about highlights ? Where are my shadows ? Is the range covered ? do I have to HDR ? Yes ? No problem ! My framing stays unchanged, let’s do it again !… And what if trying a long exposure for a blurring effect on waves ? Just adjust a neutral density on the lens and trigger it again ! Not long enough ? Ok try it with one more stop … As you see, using a tripod is a multi win practice… Think of it !

Assignment # 4 : Expose for Highlights… Make histogram your Best Friend !!


This is a key point very of us are aware of ! In digital Photography, tonal distribution is not linear along the histogram axis. Here is what I mean : Let’s say we have 5 main zones along the X axis which represents the tonal distribution : from left to right we will have the Dark Shadows – The Shadows – The Midtones – The Light Greys then The Highlights. We will suppose you capture in RAW (12bits) then, you’ll be able to capture 4096 differentiated tones per channel (RVB). The secret is : the Highlight zone will hoard half of the tonal palette just for itself so it’ll keep 2048 differentiated tones in the last fifth of the histogram ! Then the light greys will take half of the remaining thus : 1024 tones per channel, the midtones half of the remaining : 512 , then Shadows 256 and so on… In the facts, you have understood you will always get better details if you push your histogram to the right taking care, sure, to prevent clipping.

Let us suppose your histogram base takes about 2/5 of the x axis of the histogram… When pushed on the left stop of the axis, you will obtain 128 + 256  = 384 differentiated tones per channel… If you push the distribution to the right of the axis ( posing for highlights ) you will be able to differentiate 2048 + 1024 = 3072 tones per channel… up to you, which image will have the best details ?