SOOC or not?
SOOC, short for straight out of the camera. Every day people post photos online at smugmug, Facebook, Flickr, etc. and, in the caption or the description, tell us that the image is SOOC. Some people who usually manipulate or at least crop their photos seem to give us this information just to say “Hey I know I usually fix up my posts but I got lucky this time and I was so happy with this picture I didn’t need to do anything to it”. For these people I think it is a way of heading off questions about post processing.
For others though, it seems that SOOC is some sort of accolade. That it’s a good thing. For some it seems they always say SOOC and even go on to say uncropped or no post processing. Some even emphasize the point in their “about me” or bio section. “All my photos are SOOC” or something like that.
In today’s post I am going to try to discourage this whole SOOC thing. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings but sticking with SOOC and trumpeting the fact just doesn’t make sense. Ed Spadoni over at 2guysphoto and I have had some conversations about this. We see a lot of photos that could be significantly improved by cropping. His post today ask-2-guys-photo-im-ready-for-my-close-up has a good example of how cropping can make a huge difference. My post Crop it makes the same point. Why would I be happy with this
when I can crop to this?
Here’s the way I ended that post
“Too many people take it as a badge of honor to post everything on-line just as it came out of the camera (SOOC). Don’t be one of those. I’d much rather look at an image that displays your cropping skill and judgment than occasionally be impressed that your in viewfinder composition was spot on. Sure, theoretically in viewfinder composition should be as good as you can make it. Practically it often isn’t. So crop already.”
But I’m not just talking about cropping. Most pictures can be improved with other post processing techniques. It can be something quite complicated or something very simple e.g. adjusting the exposure or contrast. If you don’t want to make any adjustments you’re saying that you’re willing to accept all mistakes that your camera’s metering system makes. Why?
Let’s say you shoot a picture and see right away on your camera screen that it is too bright. So you make some camera adjustments and take another picture. Why is that any better than noticing that a picture is too bright and adjusting it on your computer before you post it somewhere.
I think some people have the idea that the great photographers from the past were great because they got the exposure and composition right SOOC. That’s baloney. They manipulated things a lot in the darkroom – burning, dodging, cropping, doing prints with various exposure times and then picking the best. And the pros, now? They go nuts with Photoshop. Lots of them only shoot RAW so that they can do all of their tweaking on the computer. In other words, they never produce an SOOC image.
I’m not suggesting that – it’s just as silly to never do SOOC as it is to always do SOOC.
I’ll get off the soapbox now and close with a few examples of pictures I shot that were okay SOOC or needed a little help.
SOOC Adjusted exposure Gave it black background Put a red border around it
SOOC although I could darken the background and even crop some off the top.
Straightened it and adjusted the exposure.