Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Enhanced... a little or a lot...which is best?

That question is bugging me quite a bit lately as I'm following several groups that are all about Photoshop composites which are freaking amazing. I begin to look at my boring humdrum images and think "wonder if I should be doing composites and crazy things to these to make them unique?"

Then I review the process in my head of everything I already do. I know there are a bunch of purists out there who tell you that every single image they import from their camera is perfect. I call bullshit. There are a few folks out there who have the talent combined with the amount of money it takes to buy equipment that will put out a sharp, bright, non noisy image right out of the camera. I'll buy that. But I don't think there are nearly as many as  you would think.

I've had a number of cameras in my life and each one I thought was the best one ever with no flaws and it was just me who couldn't put out a good image if it saved my life, but then I realized there is a reason that we have all those millions of editing programs. There's a reason I "rent" the Adobe CC Suite every month. Because no matter how great my image is out of the camera, it always needs a little polish. It just depends on how much polish I want to put on it and how much time I want to spend polishing it. Is it a great image??? Will it make people stop in their tracks and gasp in amazement? Nah. None of my images do that because I'm really not planning that when I take them. Most of my images are documentary images. Trips I take. Abandonments I explore. Things I see that I need to remember. Then there are the few paid gigs I get to make images that will make other people smile and sigh when they remember those moments.

I'm not yet an artist. Like a photoshop fantastic artist. I like my images. Then I bring them into Lightroom or Photoshop and I like them more. Then I tease out the details and apply some filters. And pretty soon I'm actually falling in love with some of them.

We recently went to Turner Falls in Davis, Oklahoma. It's a beautiful place! I can't believe I've never been there (well I was partially there once but didn't pay to go in...and it seemed different 20 some odd years ago). It's the "winter" season there now meaning half price and less tourists. No one trying to swim in the water beneath the falls. I kinda want to go back this weekend and next weekend and every weekend until I'm bored and have seen every inch of that park but with a 2.5 year old trach baby in tow, it has to be fair weather and no wind so I go through and edit my pics. Try to make them interesting. Different. Compelling.

I'm not getting there but here is the one I worked on for 30 minutes this afternoon. I love reflection shots. Trees, or clouds or whatever, but I love reflections on the surface of water. So, because I do not understand HTML and making things go to their proper places, the following are my edits.
The first was the sooc (straight out of camera) shot made smaller for the purpose of decency.
The second is the cropped image, getting rid of the blown sky and the chromatic aberrations that even lightroom wouldn't remove completely. Fiddled with the sliders and dehazed a bit.
The 3rd was the image after importing to Photoshop and adding a Nik Color Efex filter or ten.
The 4th was the same image by adding a few more tweaks to be more autumn like.

So....which one is better? Or do they all just suck? I'd like to know. Feedback welcome. Unnecessary rude criticism NOT welcomed ever on my images or anyone elses.

SOOC image. Chromatic abberation, blown sky, just blah. 

Cropped and edited in Lightroom to bring out the colors and contrast. 

Exported to Photoshop, enhanced with Nik Color Efex
Still in Photoshop Nik Color Efex made more dismal, dark and halloweenish.