Up for Discussion – Post Production on Images
Last week I received an email from Better Photography Magazine and it had an article in with the title Should A Landscape Photography Competition Be Art?. I was intrigued. It was also about a new competition and one that I recently entered. It is a good read and it got me thinking about this whole problem we seem to have with the digital age and manipulating photos.
Let’s start in the days of film. When you went out and did a shoot with a roll of film, you would come home and develop the negative. There was no difference here, the film determined how the film or negative was processed. Once the negative was ready to be printed, you would get your enlarger and do a proof sheet. Lay all the negatives on a piece of paper, put a clear piece of glass over the top and expose the negs. Then you would look through the negatives and decide which image you would want to print. Before you print it, you would put it in the enlarger and do a series of tests, times, to work out what the right time for the image would be, the correct exposure, so to speak. Then you would decide which filter to use to give you the contrast you wanted. The print would then be made.
You have the print in your hand and you think, well the sky is too blown out, I better do some dodging there, this is where you would use your hand or a paddle or something and hold it over the area, but move it quickly as well so you didn’t get sharp edges. This was also how you burned in a area that wasn’t dark enough.
While I was doing my photography course, we spent the year in the dark room and we were taught so many different ways to do things in there. I don’t know, but isn’t it all manipulating the image to get something special.
The people who were envied in the days of film, were those that had darkrooms. However, today in the world of digital, people who manipulate their images are called cheaters. I don’t quite understand how it is okay if I do my images in the darkroom and manipulate them it is okay, but if I do that in Photoshop then I aren’t being true to the image.
It seems only now in the world of digital that people think you can take images with a camera and they won’t need anything done to them. It was never the case in film, not that I was ever aware of. If you were capable of that you were considered a very skilled and masterful photographer, certainly not a cheater.
Of course, nothing compares to being able to see a shot in camera and take it. I think being able to capture something in the camera first is the most important step. If you have that first, then what follows will only add to that.
I do believe that some people over manipulate their images. They have learned many tricks and it becomes more important to show those than getting a great image. I often see images that I think are fantastic, but they have overdone the post production work. I certainly have to put myself there, and have done it many times in the past, but I do hope that I am doing a much better job these days.
Perhaps the real skill is learning when to do things and when not too. Being able to judge the image as the image and not some post production piece of digital art. I also hate that term, but that could be me. For me, the post production is the part I could possibly love just as much as actually taking the photo. I have my images, that I have been out to take, and now I want to see where else I can take it.
These posts are a great way to share knowledge, so please contribute.
I will approve them, as long as they are nice and not nasty in any way.
Feel free to respond or reply to other comments. It would be good to generate some discussion. I do like it when you start talking amongst yourselves.
If you have a topic that you would like discussed, or a problem you need help with then please send me an email and we will see if we can do a post about it.
All the images in the post are all images taken with black and white film and developed by me, except for one. I did have a darkroom for awhile. I will put them in a gallery for you now.