Be Inspired

My goal? To never use RAW processing again.

By Camille McMillan

I used to love the magic of the dark room, the processing of the film, the image appearing on the paper in the chemistry.  I have never found that magic with Capture One or any form of RAW processing.

Transparency film that was always a magic experience, dropping the film at the lab and wait the hour ( back in the day ) and there would be the magic object in your hand.

I cut my teeth on E6 ( Tranny ). E6 taught me how to expose and the importance of understanding what a 3rd of a stop can do to an image.

Using my old school knowledge, I now put it to work by getting the final image straight out of camera (SOOC) with my Fujifilm digital system.

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There is a walk near my house which is a 3 hour loop that I intend to walk regularly. I’m intending to revisit the same locations as the seasons change. This particular walk is a kind of recce… once I have walked it a few times I will know the places I wish revisit again and again.


“This day in March was not a dynamic day in terms of light… it was overcast, fog and cloud coming in, the smell on impending snow and that blank white-box sky”


For the walk I explored the B&W + R film simulation mode as I didn’t want colours distracting from the shapes & forms.

I set the camera to sharp +1, highlight +2, shadow +2 and on the compensation dial -1/3rd; an old E6 habit that still holds true with jpegs and my approach to photography.

Maybe I’m lazy, perhaps impatient… but my spot metering days are long gone with my old Leica, I now shoot with a Matrix exposure instead.

Using a 3rd of a stop pull with the compensation dial is normally enough to hit the ‘correct’ exposure, but the 3rd of a stop bracket makes for 3 very different ‘moods’ of image

This means the image on the left is actually the cameras “correct” exposure. I’m bracketing everything under the ‘correct ‘ exposure….

For me, none of the images are wrong in terms of exposure, it’s all subjective and each has a very different mood and feel.

Left – The cameras ‘correct’ exposure feels very ethereal in the mist, probably a more commercial image than the other two, but the image is not as strong in terms of forms.

Middle – My ‘correct’ exposure is good with the foreground detail, plenty of details in the shadow.. but I’m leaning towards the one on the right

Right – This image is full of shadow, details in the trees are being lost… there is however more texture in the middle greys, the middle distance. The tree trunks in the middle ground bring out the vertical lines.


“Image right is the finished image… no processing required.”


This was my approach with the entire walk – looking for textures, strong lines, old roads and man made marks in nature.

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Most of my work now is in 1:1 or 16:9. The square goes way back to Bronica and Hasselblad days, the 16:9 has only been a year or so, I’m still training my eye to see in that view ratio.

I love the freedom of going between the two formats.  As we all know, the X100T is fixed focal length, but with the use of 1:1 and 16:9 I am in effect using two focal length lens ( kind of ).

Because of the crop, the square is giving me a kind of 50mm feel ( if not focal distance, that’s what my feet are for, moving back and forth )

The 16:9 feels wider than 35mm and has that very cinematic feel to it.

Somehow the two aspect ratios work better together as a body of work than squares and 3 :2 ( traditional 35mm )

I did the walk one week later using colour, and in that walk I used ISO bracketing instead …. but that’s a whole other blog..

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Classic Chrome, -1/3 of a stop, sharp +1 highlight +2 shadow +2

18 replies »

  1. Why do you aspire to give up shooting Raw? Don’t you know JPEG files deteriorate? Why not expose properly shooting Raw and at least leave yourself with a lossless digital version of a negative. You can make all the JPEG files you want. It doesn’t matter what file format you shoot on you should be trying to get the best exposure in-camera (SOOC) as possible.

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    • Hi Stuart. This is why I was talking about E6 as a metaphor. I wish to shoot like E6 and not C41 ( neg ). When I take the picture I’m done… thats it. I have done my darkroom years and my Capture one years. JPEGs do not degrade, they only degrade if you mess with them. The ideal would be shoot, hit a button and print somewhere remote.

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  2. Camille,
    Thanks so much for posting this. I’m very old, and have a lifetime of experiences with mostly medium format (Hasselblad, Plaubel Makina, Horseman, etc) After scanning the negatives, I’ve been impressed with the quality of Fuji’s 16mp output. So, I’ll be following in your footsteps as you move ahead. I use an analog spotmeter for the digital stuff, and it really helps nail the exposure.

    Where can I see more of your work?

    Jim in Sequim

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    • Hi Craig,
      “Classic Chrome, -1 sharp +1 highlight +2 shadow +2”
      The -1 is a typo. should a -1/3 of a stop.
      Would I reverse on a summer day you ask? depends what the light is like not what season. 🙂

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      • Sorry, so late to respond- crazy summer. I mean that you it appeared that you were trying to darken the image because it was fall, so I thought for Spring, you would try and lighten it. But thank you very much for the info!!!

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  3. Hi Camille,

    your approach is right in my opinion, but you should think it to the end. Using JPGs as a digital form of film giving you different moods and try to expose correctly that you not have to deal with postprocessing is only the half of it. I would suggest to go further and apply techniques know from the film-area, which mainly means the usage of filters, especially on BW. You will be astonished how many fine greyvalues you can get by using an optical filter. The electronic filters of the camera software will not do the same, as they always apply to the full RGB Range while you are recording only the values you want to pronounce and disclose others by an optical filter.

    Read about what different filter colors do to your image. Try a medium yellow-filter for the start and see how the values change to a much nicer BW rendition, which looks much more like real film with your fuji.

    @Walker: You maybe right from your POV. But what Camille is doing is the next step of his evolution as photographer – understanding what he is doing, to get exactly the picture as he see it. RAW is always this “I’m not sure what I’m doing here thing, so lets correct my mistakes in Post”. I also believe that it needs a lot more work to get results like the camera JPG-engine delivers with RAW converters, especially with the X-Trans sensor. You’re right when you say you have to be a better photographer using JPGs, but it is possible.

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  4. Nice article interesting read thanks for posting. I’m also considering switching from RAW to Jpeg because a) Jpegs sooc have much improved b) it forces me to shoot less but better and c) it saves me time which I can use to shoot more 😉

    Your choice for 16:9 also interests me, lately I’ve been composing in-camera using 16:9 quite a lot but converting it in post to 16:10 which I think is an even more attractive aspect ratio, less pronounced than 16:9 but more pleasing to the eye imo

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  5. When I purchased my X100T, I tried shooting JPEGS but found as usual, the highlights were blown and I couldn’t even recover them in ACR Photoshop, so I went back to RAW and now have no problems.

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