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Old Aug 3, 2006, 8:55 PM   #1
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Suppose you have taken a picture where everything looks pretty much as it should; ie, all the colors, textures, lighting etc. in the photo are a match for what the scene was in reality. But as you look at the photograph, you think, "geez, the light in the room was kind of dim, and despite being different colors, the cat and the lamp and the sofa don't really stand out from one another because even though they are each different colors, nothing really draws the eye." So you load the photo into your favorite image editor and start tweaking. You are attempting to change the reality that is reflected in the original photo to something that is "improved", or at least different. Why do we do this? As someone who is pretty new to photography, I am very interested in viewpoints on this subject. :|
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Old Aug 3, 2006, 10:02 PM   #2
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Becausewithout that mind-setcompanies like Avon, Mary Kay, Revlon, Weight Watchers and thousands of plastic surgeons would be out of business.

OK, that's all in fun but has a ring of truth. Photographers sometimesjust want to capture the moment (ask any war photojournalist; they don't go out of their way to make "pretty" pictures but deal with stark reality in it's raw form). Other times we're just concerned with making something more pleasing to the eye. Often this is not done in post-production. Special lighting, filters, etc. can all enhance an image before before it ever hits the image editor. Finally, there's the money. Yes, the world of advertising. Does the food at the restaurant ever look as good as it does in the ad? Are all of those model's skin tones that perfect?

What you do in post-production will depend largely on your audience. If you brighten and sharpen a picture to better see your daughter as the singing squirrel in her third-grade play I think that's a reality-change we can all live with.
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Old Aug 3, 2006, 10:04 PM   #3
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Shooting for reality is only part of the reason I shoot pictures. I guess I'm not a purist, afterall, I shoot digital, not film and use photoshop instead of a real darkroom to process my pictures. I also use filters to cut down lights or glare, I blur waterfalls and ocean waves to make them look better than "reality", I use shallow depth of field for effects, I convert landscapes to black and white for effects, etc...

So don't worry about not shooting for reality. Shoot for what you think looks good! Think of yourself more as an artist than a recording device.


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Old Aug 4, 2006, 1:40 AM   #4
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flippedgazelle wrote: ...You are attempting to change the reality that is reflected in the original photo to something that is "improved", or at least different. Why do we do this?

rey wrote: ...So don't worry about not shooting for reality. Shoot for what you think looks good! Think of yourself more as an artist than a recording device.

Exactly.

When I take a picture -- unless it's meant to be simply documentary -- I want to convey a certain feeling or point of view through that picture. Feelings and "impressions" are holistic. The stimuli that elicit them come from all of your senses. Through a photograph, I am trying to communicate this holographic experience through only one sense -- sight.

Most of the time, a simple, completely accurate record of the visual component of that experience is inadequate to impart the feelings stimulated by the whole experience. That's why I load the image editor -- to help communicate that original feeling; to communicate why I took the shot in the first place.

Painters have been doing the same things for centuries.

People who do this well are called artists and are valued by society. People who don't are called Grant Hagen and are ignored by society. :roll:

I think that another reason we like to play with visual reality is simply that we can. In the holographic "real" world we are forced pretty much to take it as it comes. If you don't like that the sun rises in the East, that things tend to fall down rather than in some other direction, that Congress will vote themselves a $37,000.00 pay raise while cutting public benefits......oh, well!
But,
if you want to give your mother-in-law horns and a tail in the family Thanksgiving Day pictures, you certainly can! It's one stinkin' little bit of your life that you can control! The degree of control only limited by how much effort you feel like putting into learning the theory and mechanics of how to do it!

'Nough said.

Grant


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Old Aug 4, 2006, 8:36 AM   #5
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I agree with most of what was said. I'll add one new and one old thing.

New:
How you see and how the cameras sees is very different. You can see in lower light much better than a camera can. You percieve colors and sharpness different. Ever notice how if you look directly at something and without moving your eyes try to percieve the edges of your vision. Notice how they are not as "sharp"? That is because they aren't. You can probably detect motion very well on the edges of your vision, but not sharpness.

So if you are trying to make a photo into what you "saw" you're going to have to edit the image.

Old:

I use a very big lens a lot in photography. Taking a picture through so much air means I'm photographing through a lot of moisture and dust, and therefor my images are almost always less contrasty than I'd like. So I always boost contrast. And the colors seem a bit flat, so I saturate the image. And I might blur the corners to draw your attention to the subject. And I'll darken distracting light spots. And maybe lighten shadows in distracting locations.

My gold is not to record what was there (and by my "new" point, that would be nearly impossible any ways.) It is to make a good photo. To do that, I must combine both good field technique and good image editing.

Eric
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Old Aug 5, 2006, 8:02 AM   #6
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I appreciate all the feedback to my little question. My own reasons for tweaking a photo pretty much jive with everyone else's. The reason I posted my question is that most of the folks here are more experienced, skilled and knowledgeable than I am, and I wanted to read about a more educated perspective than my own.

Thanks!
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