As I mentioned before in one of my old posts, for more than 8 months I was left to fend for myself against the outside world without a computer to aid me in my profession as a photographer.
I could recall the days where I had to rely on my friends for help just to transfer some shots to a hard-drive that was not even my own. Every time I would end a photo coverage, I would sometimes give the memory cards to my clients, giving them a stern warning to take good care of it, since it is, after all, the only storage device on the planet that houses those precious shots. Lose the card, or have it "accidentally" corrupted, and the entire coverage is gone, and a myriad of precious memories are brought to nonexistence because of it. Of course, eventually, the cards return to me, but I didn't have the capability to back them up in a separate hard drive at home. So the files remained there. And when the time came for all my memory cards to reach maximum capacity, I had no choice but to buy more cards. As of now, it's a good thing, since I have quite a number of memory cards, all of which I have found to be highly reliable and durable, since the files in them remained uncorrupted overtime, no matter how many photos I stuff in, or how often I use them, which is a lot.
Storage is one thing, processing the photos is another. The best "computer" that I had during those times was none other than my trusty iPad. Sure, there was (and is still) no real Mobile Photoshop CSWhatever app from Adobe, save for a Photoshop Express App that does basically 5% (and by five, I'm being generous here) of what CS5 can actually give you - cropping, rotating, and other basic features. There was, however, this great app called Tiffen Photo FX Ultra (yes, this app was developed by the same company that produces on of the highest quality lens filters found in the industry) which allows me to do some moderate processing on the photos, from the standard color retouching, image masking, up to the healing and cloning tools. Yes, I once used this app to do posts on a lot of photos, including a set of wedding photos which were printed to 12 x 18 inch sizes, but as far as batch processing is concerned, this still left me wanting for more.
Of course, this doesn't necessarily equate to 8 months of primitive punishment due to the lack of necessary technology to back me up. In the process, I managed to improve my shooting and processing skills, and earned a few more, simply because of these factors:
Consider these two photos:
So, do the photos look as if they're processed with the same machine? Perhaps. Is either better than the other in terms of image quality and post-processing? I don't think so. In the end, I was able to produce what I did before, only this time I managed to learn quite a lot by going manual, and therefore granted me a deeper understanding of how photo processing works, and what are the practical and effective ways to get into a specific effect.
And, of course, since I can produce something competitive in a moderate-level photo-processing app in a mobile device, I can now do much more now that I'm back to using Photoshop on my desktop computer, like this photo:
Heed the old lessons: let go of the automations, step away from the presets once in a while. And this is not just limited to post processing: look at the mode setting of your camera, and try to use it in Manual Mode. Stay away from the little green camera icon, and allow yourself to experiment on the many functions and settings that open up to you once you gain total control of your camera. Deprive yourself of the very things that make your life in photography easier. That way, you'll learn much more, and you'll know what to do should things force you to go back to basics.