Friday, August 28, 2009

Process oriented

Since starting the 365 photo project, I've almost, of necessity, become interested in organization and processing software. Previous to this, I'd had the attitude that if it wasn't good enough SOOC (straight out of the camera), it wasn't good enough, period. However, trying to take a picture every day, whether there was a picture to take, and whether I had enough time or energy to put into it, made for some really abysmal pictures. This was pretty much evident within the first week. So after picking up Photoshop Elements at Costco, I started playing around and found that aside from quick fixes to exposure and contrast and cropping, you could really go to town with processing.

This isn't always a good thing.

summergreen, 237/365

I'm not in love with this shot. Actually, I kind of hate it. It was one of those last-minute, end of the day pictures, after working in the lab in the evening and coming home to poke around in the garden. The SOOC pictures is flat, soft (those last-minute shots are inevitably taken indoors at night) and pretty much lifeless. On the other hand - should the near-lifeless always be revived?

I threw on some textures from Boccacino and Rita at the Coffeeshop (not to slag them or the use of textures - they can be used judiciously to wonderful effect) and played with gradients till I got something kind of workeable.

And in the end, I admit I got carried away with the processing here, making me think: if the day was so busy I didn't have time to *take* a decent shot, then why do I have time to salvage it through processing?

On the other hand, sometimes processing really makes me happy. I recently started using LightRoom, which is ungodly expensive; an academic discount placated my frugal nature. I like it best for its organization and sorting capabilities, but also because you can lightly retouch minor things like exposure and contrast very quickly, leaving the picture in a more natural state. And in general, that is what I prefer - something as close as possible to what I saw while I was right there: I look at processing not as a tool to create something unreal, but as a way to bring back some of the reality that didn't get picked up by the camera sensor, whether through technical limitations, lighting difficulties, or user error. So this, taken in the coulees in the soft evening light at the end of a hot August day - this, I'm happy with.

sunburned out, 238/365

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