Monday, December 29, 2014

Sometimes a photograph needs a massage

After shooting the rain drops on tree twigs, I took Ziva on a nice long hike.  We got all the way to Crabtree Valley via the Greenway, so to "celebrate", on the way back I stopped near my much appreciated, abandoned bridge, and photographed it from a vantage point I hadn't used before.  The result was dreary and dull.  Although the wet weather was part of the atmosphere of the scene, I did want the bridge to stand out from the vegetation which had almost swallowed it in the grayness.  Adobe Photoshop® to the rescue.  The hues have not been altered, no objects have been moved or removed, but changes, both local and global, to exposure, contrast, saturation, and other tonal effects brought the image to life, so that I see the bridge now as a viable subject.

In case you're curious, here's the original shot, straight out of my iPhone 5s.  It does capture the somber light, and if the scene itself had more strength and character, I might have preferred the realistic rendering...  But this was all basically playing with a snapshot.



  1. I like both images although I love the color of the leaves in the first photo (and the first photo is more enchanting). Which photo best represented the way you saw the scene in real life?

    1. The bottom photo is much closer to what I saw in front of me, yet my attention was focused on the bridge, the colors in the crumbling wood structure, the blue of the metal span, etc. So, even though I knew quite well beforehand how the photo would look SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera), I was planning from the start to see what I could do to make it look like the scene that was in my mind's eye. (So, really the photo is all about me, or the "mind's I", to borrow from Douglas Hofstadter!)

    2. So, where does photography end and art begin? I mean, like, in photo competitions is it required that all photos be SOOC? I imagine photos can be art but I generally think of art as like involving paint or drawings so...when you enhance hues or saturation via the computer then is it like a painting?

    3. The definition of art itself is flexible and sometimes elusive. The concept of "an artist" originated, I think, with the idea of a craftsperson, someone skilled and/or highly trained to produce things of decorative or entertainment value. For at least the first century of the existence of the technology of photography (through the 1940s and 50s), it was thought of as just a mechanical craft, whereas painting was rightly considered a "fine art". However, photography has gained a lot of recognition as a technique that can produce art as can other media. My feeling is that a lot can go into the creation of a photographic image even before the shutter is activated. Photo competitions vary greatly in what is permitted, and what is valued and sought. In roughly the 1940s, there was a whole movement of photographers who attempted to make film>darkroom>paper prints have more "painterly" qualities. Others pushed against this and embraced the honesty of geometry and detail representation that photography made possible. Since the very beginnings, people (artists!) have been using every technique they could think of to modify and enhance the images "in the original negative" or "SOOC". For me, some of the images that I create do make me feel that, thanks to the use of digital manipulation, I can gain some of the control that a painter has over the final picture. It in no way implies that I have any of the abilities of a true painter, nor do I usually have an aim of making a photo truly look like a painting, but if I can visualize something that could grow out of a raw image that I've captured, then there is a chance that I can make that visualization come to life.

    4. OMG - just ran across this post today "Artists Create Still Photographs That Look Like Impressionist Paintings"

    5. There are many ways to simulate brush strokes (including shooting through glass that has paint brushed onto it). I suppose sometimes it works well, but mostly I think a "painterly" approach to photography is best if it makes use of everything about the art of painting *except* use of a brush! But that's just me.


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