“I photograph on unplanned impulse when I’m moved by what I see. It’s not predictable. For me, acceptable imperfection is the price of spontaneity, and that’s often a good bargain.”
In both traditional chemical and digital photography there are systems for photographing things that hold still while the photographer calculates. These include the Ansel Adams-Fred Archer zone system of pre-planned film exposure and development and a newer digital method that combines separate exposures for the subject’s light, midtone and dark areas to get optimum print tones and colors over the whole exposure range.
The results can be quite beautiful. Some digital virtuosi combine up to ten exposures, perhaps one stop apart. What skill! What patience! Although it seems to me that three well-chosen exposures should usually take care of the whole range. I don’t use such systems. I don’t have time for them. They’d be in my way.
What Some Photographers Work For
I think of digital photographers who insist on multiple RAW exposures for their gourmet photographic cooking as process junkies, often more concerned with doing technical things extremely well—and the more difficult and elaborate the better—than with getting good, well-printed pictures. A display of skill seems to be the main purpose. When their photos are not only impressive, but also reward the viewer by conveying feeling, that tends to be seen as an incidental bonus.
In this, our RAW-and-multiple experts remind me of 35mm photographers of the 1930s who were intent on superfine grain and great sharpness in their prints that could fool technically informed viewers into thinking they’d printed from large sheet-film negatives. Grain, for them, was a deadly sin, as was any out-of-focus area. Exotic film-developer formulas ruled, and the picture was secondary, a pretext for demonstrating expertise.