Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tech Talk Tuesday - Edit to Enhance or Degrade

As photographers, when do we know our work is done and our photo or image is ready to print or to publish on the internet???

This decision can truly be confusing for photographers.  Back in the day, we would choose what kind of film we wanted to use, we'd take 36 shots, and then hope that a few would be 'keepers' when they were developed.  Pretty simple!  (I'm talking here about the average amateur photographer who did not have their own darkroom and did not develop or retouch their own work, which in those days, took considerable time and effort.)

With the technology of today, the possibilities are endless.  We still have the option of printing or publishing SOOTC (straight out of the camera).  But with the editing programs, plugins, apps, that are readily available today on our computers, pads and phones, the sky is the limit.  We can alter our images in minor ways, or we can create composites or manipulate our images so they are unrecognizable from the original shot.

Here are some questions:  When is enough, enough?  How much manipulation should I do?    How many editing programs should I buy?  How many different 'looks' should I create before choosing the 'best' one? How much time should I be spending on the computer to edit an image?  Do you find yourself sitting at your computer, looking at your images, and asking yourself some of these questions? I do!

The variety and complexity of the choices today's photographers have to make can be mind boggling, because as you already can guess, there is absolutely no correct answer to any of these questions.

The following is a good example of what I'm talking about:

Here is my original image.  It is acceptable, but for me, kind of boring.  I tend to not like totally out of focus backgrounds.  So it's time to start editing and experimenting.

Adding Bokeh
Since I'm a big fan of bokeh and interesting lighting and lens effects, I came up with this.  I think it is a bit more interesting and holds my attention a bit more than the first image.  But is this the best I can do?

 Softened and Topaz Impression
Recently I've seen some beautiful images on the internet where the artists have used the Topaz Impression editing program, so I downloaded a trial version to play around with.  I softened this image, while keeping the ladybug sharp, then added a texture.  When I manipulate a landscape or nature shot, I usually want to viewer to feel the image is 'believable' and could be SOOTC, so I strive for editing that is not blatantly obvious.  This treatment created a different and interesting look, but was not quite believable to me.

Blended in a Second Image
I often shoot out of focus images of foliage, flowers and other nature scenes to use as background interest.  This is what I did with this photo.  For me, adding some form and a hint of background foliage makes this image more believable and interesting. 

Of course this is all personal preference.  Some would prefer the SOOTC shot, others might prefer one of the other versions, and others would have a totally different editing idea.  But at some point we all have too decide when enough is enough.  We need to develop the ability to learn when our editing improves an image, and know when to stop before we over manipulate and ruin an image.


ADRIAN said...

I prefer the first version and I am a holy horror for manipulating images. Bokeh only really works for me if it is produced by the aperture blades in the lens. I do like textures but rarely use them. I used to use Topaz and had lots of fun but I came to the conclusion that just because you can doesn't necessarily mean you should.
I am just getting back to using medium format film and may go larger if I drop on an Ebony camera for silly money. I did borrow a dark room a couple of weeks ago and made a Bromoil print from a digital negative. It was not a success as I was trying to run before I walked....Looked as if I had dropped the paper in a muddy puddle but I was thrilled to bits to see a muddy image appear whilst I was washing the paper. Never had as much fun for ages and that is what it's about.
Your image I would leave alone but would consider cropping and rotating. Maybe desaturate the background a bit in channels.
Next week I am going to try using his enlarger and VC paper for some split grade printing. Again it will be a mix of analogue and digital as I will print a digital border on projector film to act as a mask.
It's all about enjoying the hobby.

Margaret Adamson said...

Veru interesting post but on thi occaion i still prfer the first shot.

Laura~Pretty Pix said...

I agree, first image is great... as is.
When is enough.. enough? That's a hard one, we can overdo so easily. I know I have!
I had a darkroom, back in the day. Spent many happy hours playing. Now I spend those happy hours using Photoshop and Topaz.
Great post, Karen, good food for thought!

diane b said...

I like the first image best too. There is enough colour differentiation in the background.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

enjoyed :O)

Sandra said...

I prefer the 2nd image.. it is my favorite.. and it is easy to over do but i keep in mind what i see and love maybe not be what others see. we can see by the comments we all have different favorites. so for me the play time is for me and other can like or not like. just like paintings i have seen, some of them i think are horrible, are worth millions. to others, not me

Stephanie said...

I prefer the first shot.

Blogful said...

Lots to think about. I really like the first one best too. The first shot is documenting something. The others are more like a painting.

Rebecca said...

I do play with my images. When I take a photo I see something and want to recreate what I saw even if it was all in my head. lol. But nothing beats a well taken image right from the camera.

Ruth Hiebert said...

I am no expert on photo manipulation/editing. I usually do minimal editing,some exposure and maybe cropping.In this set of pictures the first two are my favourites.Bottom line is that these are your pictures and if you like it that's all that matters. That is how I look at my shots as well.

DeniseinVA said...

I like the first shot and the second. Thanks for this very interesting post Karen.

Robin Lamb said...

Karen, thanks for you advice! I spend lots of time on the computer with my images! Have a bunch of software, but only seem to use a few. But I think that we have all these wonderful programs and it time is not an issue it's fun to play with. Why not strive for the best image we can!

Felicia said...

i like the bokeh and the original too.