“SOOC”, “straight-out-of-camera”.

What does that really mean?


Sounds self explanatory, but let me give you a little background.

Before I got deep into the light painting world, I went to school to become a commercial photographer. As I was learning the ins and outs of photography, I would occasionally see a raw image from a shoot thrown online with the acronym, “SOOC”. All that meant was that the photographer wanted to share an image before they had a chance to work with it in Photoshop or any other editing software.

Now enter the quirky light painting community. This is where things get weird. “SOOC” has created a bit of a division of beliefs among many.

Let me explain.

Let’s start first with those that believe that “SOOC” means just that. They go out and make a photograph all in camera, they come back and offload it on to their computer and send it straight out into the world to see with no editing what so ever. The difference with the way they use the term “SOOC” and the way it was originally used is that they don’t intend on going back and editing the image later.

Now let’s explore the other side of the way “SOOC” is being used in the light painting community. There is another camp that believes that when it comes to light painting, “SOOC” basically means that all the light painting was done in camera. They feel it is ok to take an image, place it into Photoshop and do the presentation editing techniques you would have seen in the film developing days such as adjusting levels, sharpening, and maybe even a little dodging and burning.

So who is right?

I believe instead of arguing about who is right, or more important, who is wrong, I think it is more important to understand why each group feels the way they do.

Let’s look at the group that uses no editing first. These folks appreciate the fact that they can create amazing art without the use of modern editing software. There is a purity in spending time in the dark with your camera, creating an amazing image and sending it immediately off to the world without manipulating it further in any way. All the manipulation has been done during the shoot. They take the term for it’s literal meaning “straight out of the camera” and live by it.

Now how about the group that believes that editing your images a bit is ok. To them the act of light painting itself has changed the meaning of the term “SOOC”. While they are bending the term from it’s original use, they are using it in a way to show those that don’t understand light painting, that their image was created in the camera and not with heavy Photoshop manipulation.

I think it is important now that I mention one more group.

This final group is a group of photographers that make a light painting, do heavy editing in post and call it “SOOC”. When I say heavy editing, I am talking about fixing their image in editing software in order to compensate for the mistakes they made while shooting. These are the ones that really irk the other groups off the most, and have created the biggest rift between those that use the term “SOOC”

Back to the last question, “who is right”?

Just ask a light painter and you will find out that they are right. No matter which side of the line they fall on. The term “SOOC” will always be one to argue about in the light painting world. Whenever there is a group of passionate people, there will be arguments. Light painters are passionate which is why I love light painting so much!

I think the most important thing to remember in all of this is to go out and create amazing work without getting hung up on what others are doing, or the terms they are using to describe their own work.


Tell us what you think about the term “SOOC” in the comments.

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Written by Dan McCreight