Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Workflow Revisited

Recently, I read a NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) blog by Tom Horton titled "The six myths that frustrate aspiring photographers". Myth #2 is It's all about the camera. The following is a quote from Horton in regards to myth #2: "No, it is all about the software. Or stated another way, for a given photographer of given skills, software has rescued many, many, many camera deficiencies - but it never happens the other way around. Yes, there are real differences among the digital raw material that various hardware produces, but the ability of software to affect the post-camera image is orders of magnitude greater. Photographers with good sofware skills can correct individual colors, increase apparent resolution, eliminate optical errors, cut through the haze, smooth skin, create complex effects, and a hundred other things that cameras are powerless to fix."

I am not one to promote a brand, be it camera or software; but, Tom Horton has written something that I have believed for many years. Put another way, I wouldn't be the photographer I am today if it were not for Photoshop. The reality is, hitting the shutter button marks the end of only the first part of what goes into creating an image. What follows can be a long process of enhancing the beautiful qualities and details of an image through various non-destructive adjustments.

Compare these two screen shots, the first showing the original (out of the camera) without visible adjustments, and the second being the finished product.

The finished product includes many adjustments to such things as contrast, color, shadows and brightness. And many of the adjustments were not applied to the entire image, but rather selected areas. The image was shot in February 2015. There were other images from that same day that I processed immediately, but for some reason I didn't get to this one until much later. I worked with it for awhile and not satisfied with the results, would just put it away for later. As I continued to learn new skills in Photoshop, I eventually went back to this image and made new adjustments to it, until I was finally happy with the finished product, 27 months later.

While I spend hours in the field and test many technical aspects of my camera, my learning curve for processing an image continues to rise. As I learn new Photoshop techniques and how to optimally apply them, I become a better photographer. I pay closer attention to details and my art continues to expand and deepen. So when I hear photographers proudly state "No Photoshop used on this image" as if using Photoshop is beneath them, I just cringe. Because I know that if that photographer took the time to learn and use Photoshop, he or she would expand their photographic horizons and dare I say, improve their art. And that's what it's all about.

Workshops available.