Obsession vs. Foolish Obsession

Okay enough with the 100% screenshot views of an out of focus section at the top of the post. This isn't a science project - well at least I hope it's not. At the top we have my take on LR5 with VSCO Portra 400 done in Aperture 3. It happens to be the same images I was using for demonstration yesterday. We'll get to the 100% views of the out of focus areas in a second. A quick follow-up to my last post on RAW processors, tools, etc. Another exercise - pointless or maybe not. Took me another 10 seconds. This time on the ultra-accurate film emulation presets of that wonderful marketing machine that is VSCO.

While we are on the subject of VSCO Portra let's take a look at VSCO Portra 160 applied in Lightroom 5. Strait up nothing else except that exposure correction due to the completely daft evaluative metering that camera reviewers shout the wondrous virtue of from the tops of buildings. Yea, right. Moving on I decided to sorta kinda match the results of that recipe in Aperture 3 - a quick and dirty rather than some science project with my last kinda match-up as a starting point.

I purposely did not attempt anything exactly the same - I left out the fading crap as I'm not a big fan - usually get rid of it anyway. I didn't do any minor split toning effects in the shadows or highlights. Hell I didn't even venture into the esoteric of individual color curves. All I did was screw with the curve I had from previously a minor amount and added one additional point to that curve - you can see it. I'm so lazy I even left in the mediocre fake film grain from ACR/Lightroom. Heck I even used the same two color control blocks as last time - don't need two. Didn't even attempt to show you what's going on in them - screw it. Doesn't matter.

So where are we at? Screen shot above - left is Lightroom 5 with VSCO Portra 160. The whole ball of wax. Three different RGB curves adjustments, split toning in highlights and shadows, skewed RAW calibration, a shit load of adjustments to every single solitary HSL option Lightroom has (some of which arguably undo what the RGB skews do), some slit-toning heaped on. Some fake film grain. Every single exposure control dorked around with, and a partridge in a pear tree. All for the low low low price of a hundred bucks for the presets and the added bonus of indentured servitude to Adobe for either the rest of your life rental or shelling out about $100 minimum for every new camera you get that happens to be about a year from the last time you bought LR. Oooops sorry - off topic.

Back to the topic at hand. Even at micro examination are they really far off - even with the grain/no grain. A curves control, some minor color skews one way or another - I even matched the greens which you cannot see in the screenshots. Didn't bother with the toning nor the fade-y nonsense just the overall tonal response and a wild uncalibrated view of a few colors adjustments.

Are the nits you see at pixel-peeping level night/day. Are they make or break to your precious photographic artwork? Sell or no sell? The differences are less at normal view sizes. Do you see what I see? No because even your calibration and screen are probably more different than these images - how about in print? think you could tell then? Doubt it - I sure couldn't. How about looking at each on a different iPad right next to each other - will assure you a retina iPad vs an iPad mini vs the new more expensive mini will overwhelm any side by side you see here. Different paper brand of same type - same thing for print. How about your clients shitty-ass monitor from 1972? Yea about that. How about super great monitor but different gamut skew and different calibration hardware - ummm those would probably overwhelm the differences you see here.

But wait there's more - how about a 50 point shift in WB? the smallest increment green/pink tint shift that is possible? one nudge on any of the exposure controls? The application of any and I mean any VSCO toolbox click? Every single one of them is arbitrary - every one of them will blow away any difference you see between these two.

When it comes to obsession - we as photographic artists need obsession. To a point. Even then on the right things. Hell even throw in a few silly things because they might lead you to some other place that's productive if they keep coming up. Sweating some product difference that results in the difference you see in this comparison - some brand of presets - some particular RAW processor. In my book that's just silly foolishness.


Sorry if I offended anyone - I am not calling any person silly or foolish. I speak from my own silliness decades ago for the most part as well as the recurring relapse here and there that I have to knock myself out of and get on with the important stuff every now and again.

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