Sunday, April 4, 2010

Which is right?

At this moment in time I don't anticipate posting any photos. It would appear that this is going to be wordy and full of musings.

In-camera editing, post-editing. Minimal digital tweaking, or all out overhaul?

Which one is right?

I struggle with this thought process everyday. Is it OK to shoot a photo with every intention to edit the crap out of it later? Does that change the integrity of the image, does it say something bad about my capabilities of capturing what I want in-camera? Do I gain more credibility and creativity if I do minimal computer editing to my images? Is it more impressive to post photos that are perfect out of camera, or to create exactly what and have a pleasing affect through the use of programs like Photoshop?

I don't really know and therein lies my problem. Which one do I lean toward? Or is it OK to change my mind whenever the situation calls for it?

For instance, the photos that I've been posting lately have been from a simple pocket digital camera. The photos that I've been taking with it are (sometimes) interesting in terms of composition and content, but the colors aren't vibrant and overall the images are fairly flat. When taking the photos I'm already planning on throwing them into Photoshop and changing them up to make them pop. The end result is a photo that I quite like, both because of the content and the changes I've made in post. Does this change the way a viewer feels about the photo? How about me? Do I feel like I've cheated if I've achieved what I'm looking for, but it happened through computer editing?

My camera isn't capable of capturing reality, just a digital representation of it. I look at my fresh-out-of-camera photos and I go, "The colors aren't quite right, this is low contrast, the grass was far greener than that!". So I go in and I change things until I see what my memory says I saw. To me, the world is ultra colored and fascinating. I want my colors to pop. Sometimes I make photos where the color is far more poppy than I remember it being, and that's because what I've done to the photo becomes my way of representing a memory, even if I know it isn't entirely accurate.

What I'm talking about here doesn't include changing the content of an image. No taking someone out or putting someone in to create an event that never happened. I'm mostly talking about colors and brightness. I enjoy making the blacks black and the brights blown out and upping the vibrance. Some photos thrive off of looking dirty and grainy, while others benefit from an ethereal bright quality that didn't exist in the original file.

Currently my two largest photography influences are Joe McNally and Chase Jarvis. McNally does almost all of his work in-camera and does minimal tweaking in post work. Jarvis has an amazing way with creating heavily edited images to great effect. I feel so torn. Which one do I want to do? Can I go ahead and do both depending on the situation? I'm going to go ahead and guess yes, I just wish this nagging feeling whenever I edit an image a lot would go away. It's my work, I can do what I want.


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