I should start off by admitting that the above photo (or photos, depending on how you’re looking at things) was not taken today. I took it a week or so back when Josiah and I went on a cafe-finding expedition and hadn’t yet uploaded it anywhere. However, since Jackie was pressuring me to put up the photos from Charlotte’s cocktail do, I uploaded some photos of the previous month onto Facebook, including the photo above. And although I didn’t take it today, I did fiddle with it today, which I think is an important part of “making” the photos that appear on Flickr and on this blog.
There are some people who absolutely refuse to use programs with Photoshop or Lightroom, purists who insist that good photographers take good photographs and that if you can’t get it right at the moment the photograph is taken, then you… well, that you suck as a photographer. How judgmental of them! I, on the other hand (perhaps because I’m not as practised in getting it right the first time), am a HUUUUGE fan of photo processing and especially Lightroom (because I, sadly, do not know how to use Photoshop properly). Not a terrible fan, however, of over-processing or automatic effects that you can download off the internet and apply with brute force to your photos without actually looking at what needs to be done to them.
Instead, I think that getting a program like Lightroom and learning over time how to use it is really beneficial, both in getting the most of the photos you take and also in understanding more about what elements make up photos and such. And I really would disagree with those who would say that it’s not “really” photography if you apply post processing. I mean, you can’t really change the composition of the image (apart from cropping it) or fix problems like bad focus or blur.
Take a look at the photos above. The second one is obviously the “after” image and the one that I would have ordinarily uploaded and posted onto the blog. The “before” one is what I originally took and the one that nobody else would normally have seen. Mainly because it’s too dark. Even if I had exposed the photo correctly, it probably would have looked a little flat (not enough contrast) and a bit cold (easily fixed with a slight yellow tint). Looks better, no? I don’t really consider it cheating. I mean, the camera is vastly inferior to the human eye when it comes to spatial resolution, bad lighting conditions and dynamic range. And we’re talking top-of-the-range, costing-more-than-most-cars equipment. I shoot with a Nikon D3000 and my kit lenses (15-50mm f/3.5-5.6 and 50-200mm f/4-5.6 if that means anything to you). A pretty good camera, I reckon, but entry level as far as digital SLR cameras are concerned. Basically, my camera, expensive technology though it may be, is utter crap compared to my eye.
And I think that processing software is a really good creative tool in taking the raw image (which is taken of the actual scene or object and an approximation of how I visually experienced said scene or object) and then bringing it closer to how it was originally experienced. I mean, how many times have you taken a photo and said something like “Eugh… that’s not what it looked like at all!”? I don’t think it even has to be a literal, objective representation of the moment where the photo was taken. Sometimes the photo needs a tweak to highlight some parts of the image or some colour adjustment to make the image look more grungy or more summery or more bleak and so forth. Sometimes it’s not how the moment looked “objectively”, but how you subjectively remember it or wish to portray it that matters. I don’t really consider that cheating. I just consider it making your photos represent the image you really saw or wanted to create rather than just the amalgamation of arbitrary bits collected by a tiny sensor.
Well, that was kind of long. And it wasn’t really about my day (for the record, we went to my grandmother’s for lunch, where we had chicken soup and roast lamb, and then I slept on the couch for a bit), but photography is something that I do every day (because of this blog, which is coming to its end) and something that is part of my life. And it was interesting for me to write all that and figure out what it means for me to do what I do and think what I think when it comes to photography. And if this hasn’t been interesting for you, then why are you still reading this?