“No RAW Please, We’re Reuters”

No RAW for Reuters freelancers anymore, we saw yesterday:


The Verge gets it right in this article. The policy, while somewhat understandable, is shortsighted, because:

  • A JPG can also be manipulated, so mandating “JPG” is no guarantee of an unedited image.
  • Some cameras, like my 1Dx, even allow editing of RAW pictures in camera to produce an edited JPG.
  • Now journalists have to get exposure and white balance right in camera, when shooting. As well as colour space, sharpening, contrast, saturation. These are in fact all set in camera prior to the JPG being made, so every JPG is a “manipulated RAW”. Why does it make a difference whether you do this manipulation in camera or in Lightroom? If you have to do it all in camera, you waste valuable shooting time.
  • [edit:]Now, journalists cannot “expose to the right”: a technique designed to limit noise and hence to obtain maximum quality.
  • Size. Often, news editors have requirements like “a 1MB file”. You have control over this in Lightroom, but not in camera.

A much better policy would be: do whatever you like, but if the JPG you send us was edited in Lightroom, make sure you include all the EXIF data (i.e. do not restrict that when making an export).


World Naked Bike Ride photographers: RAW, or In The Raw?

As for the ethics angle: sure. It is sensible to set limits to what you can do, namely:

  • Exposure, colour, colour space, and white balance adjustments are fine, but not to manipulate the truth.
  • Saturation, clarity, and vibrance adjustments are fine, but not to manipulate the truth.
  • Cropping is fine, but not to manipulate the truth.
  • Rotating is fine, but not to manipulate the truth.
  • Lens corrections (e.g. architectural corrections) are fine, but not to manipulate the truth.
  • Removing chromatic aberration is fine, but not to manipulate the truth.
  • Noise reduction is fine, but not to manipulate the truth.
  • B/W conversions are fine, but only with “standard” channel settings, and not to manipulate the truth.
  • Sharpening is fine, but not to manipulate the truth.
  • Not fine: vignetting, graduated fill, spot removal/the healing tool, adding grain, and any other change to the image, especially, of course, changes designed to manipulate the truth.

“Manipulating the truth” means changing anything that changes the facts. That can include removing or adding objects. Changing sizes and shapes to change positioning or distances. Making skies darker using graduated filters. Anything, in other words, that causes a photo to be interpreted in such a way that it does not reflect the actual truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Above all, it is important to have a clearly stated policy. Nothing worse for a photojournalist than to have uncertainty over what is, or is not, allowed.

And that, for the record, is my $0.02.

What a mess!

Let’s talk for a moment about your studio.

A studio is a space where you make photos like this typical studio shot of Evangeline just days before she gave birth to her son:

That’s straight out of the camera, unfinished.

And where was that made? Right here:

Messy eh! But that does not show up in the photo!

Studio requirements:

  • Large enough
  • High enough (hence my unfinished ceilings)
  • Power everywhere
  • Ability to hang backdrops
  • Ability to have things easily at hand. Things like light stands, flashes, modifiers.

My studio meets all those requirements, and then some. It is one large space, which is what I like most about it.

Sunday, I am doing a Meetup here: a free workshop for would-be pro photographers who live in or around Brantford. Check it out if you like here and want to learn about photography!


Brantford, listen up

Live in Brantford, Ontario, or nearby? And like photography? Then I am organizing a free learning meetup for you! See www.meetup.com/Brantford-Photography-School-Meetup/events/225583551/ and I hope to see you there. Limited space, just 10 people can be accommodated, and it is already half full as we speak. :-)

I will brief all my readers on what I do in such meetups.  So that even those of you not in Brantford get benefit out of it.  And so that you can all, before long, make photos like this, that combine manual exposure, manual off-camera flash, using the sun as back light, good composition, and deliberate use of flare:

Hope to see y’all Sunday, 11AM. Right here, 48 Wilkes Street:

Logistics: There is street parking available. I will have water; perhaps if you like, bring a bottle of pop or something (of course at paid events, I will always have snacks and drinks available).



DEALS – DEALS – DEALS! A good friend is selling photo equipment. Here’s the next lot. If you are interested, let me know and I will forward your email/message to the seller immediately! (I love the Bowens lights, I use them too; and just for the record, I am not profiting from this sale in any way)

FOR SALE: Bowens Gemini 500/R TX UM/SB Kit with Battery – Lighting Kit

In mint condition. Used about 6 times. Bowens Gemini 500/R TX UM/SB Kit with large Bowens travel kit battery, 2 strobes and stands, softbox, bag, spare 3 meter cable, 3 year warranty and quick ring for softbox and upgraded to Westcott 45″ white satin w/black removable cover umbrella. Great for on location shoots – powerful. Paid $2600 in Sept/14. Asking $1900.


Email me at michael@michaelwillems.ca


The studio

A studio is all about convenience, I find. I can work without one, but in a studio I have everything set up and ready to go. This is my Brantford studio a day ago, before I had finished tidying:

Notice that a studio need not be tidy. It needs to be well organized, large, and it needs all the equipment ready to use. All the equipment being

  • Cameras and lenses
  • Backdrops,
  • Many small flashes, many strobes
  • One or two hotlights (for video)
  • A host of modifiers
  • Light stands
  • Reflectors
  • Gadgets, like brackets
  • …and so on.

In my studio, I have two stations set up permanently. One for traditional portraits like this:

(Standard Studio Setting: 100 ISO, 1/125 sec, f/8)

And one for edgy portraits like this, of my friend Adam pretending to be a pregnant woman:

(Standard Studio Setting: 100 ISO, 1/125 sec, f/8)

So do you need a permanent studio? Of course not. But it sure makes life easier and shoots faster to carry out. And it takes the guesswork out of photography.

My Brantford studio is now open for individual and class training, and portraiture. Just 20 minutes west of Hamilton, Brantford is centrally located, between the GTA, London, and Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph. Come see me if you need a portrait for LinkedIn, a family portrait, or any form of photography training.