Back when everybody shoot film, testing was an important part of improving your photography and most people wouldn’t shoot an assignment or any critical images before testing the concept or gear beforehand. Before clicking the shutter, medium and large format studio shooters used (expensive) Polaroid film and others would shoot test rolls or run clip tests before trying anything new.
Along comes digital capture with its instant feedback and everybody thought that they didn’t have to test anymore— you could test as you shot. Along with that attitude came a secondary excuse that you could “fix it in Photoshop,” even though that was not always the case. One of the problems with testing as you shoot is that not all LCD preview screens are accurate as far as color and contrast and especially not the same quality as the color correct monitor that’s sitting on your desk used to process images in Photoshop, Lightroom, or Aperture. Many LCD screen are too contrasty and some are unhelpfully bright. And since most screen’s brightness can be adjusted, use your test session to adjust their brightness to match what the file actually shows.
Before going out of state, I tested was a new wide-angle lens at a car show I thought I would love but in actual shooting iwas so wide that it was impossible (even at its longest focal length) to shoot any car without getting lots of extraneous detail, including people walking into the shot. The camera’s LCD screen also showed there was slight vignetting with the built-in lens hood but when I looked at the files on my monitor it was much worse. This lens was not going with me to New Mexico but I found out now, not when I was in the Land of Enchantment. As I prepare for a upcoming glamour shoot in Utah, I’ve been doing some testing of the lights and cameras I’ll be taking with me.
Good carpenters say that you should measure twice and cut once. I think that we should test twice and shoot once. And remember, there are no perfect photographs but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.
If you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting, in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from Amazon.com, with used copies (as I write this) selling for less than $8—it doesn’t get much better than that.