One of the tactics for productive writing (academic and other kinds) is separating the tasks of generating content and editing it. We commonly suggest to students to “write to a deadline” (even and artificial, self-imposed one) and then take time editing the article. John Irving said, “Rewriting is what I do best as a writer. I spend more time revising a novel or screenplay than I take to write the first draft.”

I am wondering is a similar principle can be applied to photography. Wouldn’t it be nice not to worry about exposure, colours, noise, even composition, during a photo shoot and only focus on capturing the moment or the model’s expression? Theoretically, everything except capturing the action can be delegated to the post-processing stage.

To some degree, we already do this in sports photography, where action is arguably more important than image quality. But this is only partially true. In fact, image quality is what separates great photos (even in sports) from mediocre ones. Image quality has many components: composition, subject isolation (from the background), sharpness, exposure, colour balance, noise level, etc. Some of these aspects, like sharpness and composition, have to be taking care of at the time of shooting, at least with the currently available hardware and software. Other aspects, like choice of equipment, shooting angles, need to be addressed even earlier.

Photography is, fundamentally, capturing the light, and if it is not done (mostly) right, there won’t be another opportunity to do it. Even with staged shoots, it is never possible to “enter the same river twice,” figuratively speaking.

In research, we tell the students that an experiment is only valid if it is repeatable, but I wonder if this is ever the case if we consider the physical phenomenon in its entire complexity and not a subset of conditions that constitute the model or hypothesis being tested.

UVPCS Christmas Cracker swimming competition. December 7, 2013 (apshutter.com)