Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Lonely Tree

GRD II, f5, 1/1150, ISO 100, RAW

Ok, probably every photographer has taken at least one picture of a lonely tree, I know I have taken a few. I took this today while walking in Greenwich park.

I posted about this very interesting post from Wouter before and want to post a few new questions here.
The top picture is my post-processed picture and it is how I like this to look but it did take qute a lot of processing work to get it to look like this as you can see from the unprocessed picture at the bottom.
Now, which picture do you prefer? Is the post-processed picture better or do you prefer the original? Does the post-processed picture change the reality in a bad way or is it still close enough to the original scene? How much post-processing should someone do and should we always make it clear that a picture is post-processed? What if you could achieve the same look in camera with scene modes, would it be a post-processed picture?
I find that sometimes I do quite a lot of post-processing to have the picture match my vision or even change my vision after playing around with the picture in post-processing, although I have always a pretty good idea of how it should look like.

I want to tell you also about another very interesting post that I forgot to mention before. Regular reader and fellow blogger Richard has posted a very interesting post about my WOOOW picture here. It's worth a read and I enjoyed reading about his feelings and view towards my picture.


  1. At the bottom are those the young green shoots I've been hearing about?

    I can see the top image has been PP only by comparing it with the original - it looks natural.

    Lets face it B&W images are not realistic images, but are acceptable because of the history of photography.

    What I do not like are images that blatantly look the product of Photoshop.

  2. The top image (the processed one) looks very natural to me and had you not mentioned it, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about it.

    The look you achieved in your processed image isn't very far removed from what one might expect to achieve using a simple warming filter on the camera.

    I think that using scene modes are different from post-processing and I would almost venture to say that scene modes have limited me in the past. They snap the photo a certain way and it is hard to make it any other way in processing. Thus the need to shoot RAW. Most photographers I know shoot RAW 99.9% of the time.

    I think that some photographers have that 'processed' look and it works for them (

    Even in 'darkroom days,' people were over and under developing, dodging and burning, cropping, etc. It's no different. This topic has been touched on before and I've had many traditional black and white film photographers say that digital is not art and that anyone can do it and if you can't get it in-camera then you aren't a real photographer. I think that's crazy. And when they say that, I throw them a question about whether or not they crop, dodge, burn, push and pull film to get what they want and they always say yes, but it's different. When I ask how, they say they can't explain it.

    So, no. I don't think you over-processed your image. And if I did, who am I to say? Who is anyone to say? It's your vision and it's your photograph and anything less than what you've produced would be unfinished regardless of what other people think. That's the beauty of being an artist. We get to say when something is where it needs to be to complete our vision.

    Good post. I'm enjoying following your blog.


  3. As both posters mentioned, for me its whether or not the result is natural looking and a representation of what you saw or percieved the image to be when you were capturing it.

    Also do you view your photography as photographic art or photographic documentation? If you're not a documentarian then you're an artist and with that comes the freedom of expression of your vision. There is nothing wrong with the "right amount" of PP...and you as the artist determine what that "right amount" is.

  4. Thanks for the great replies, it is very interesting to hear your views on this.

    Yesbuts, I think b&w images are very good to convey emotions and expressions better. While they lack colors, they are still quite realistic IMO, the same goes for sepia.

    Matthew, I have to say that I don't really like to shoot RAW and would rather shoot JPGs most of the time and get he images I want straight in camera by setting color modes and everything else. RAW is good and has advantages but I would rather spend less time post processing and more time shooting.
    I agree that the artistic vision should be always the main aim and it should not matter how you get there. For documentary pictures though it is important to stay as close as possible to the real through.
    The pictures from Dave Hill look pretty interesting, almost like paintings.
    Thanks for your very innteresting post and glad you enjoy my blog.

    Jemsurvey, this is a very interesting question and I think I am a bit of both. When I take my documentary pictures of demonstrations then my pictures are documentary photos but everything else is photographic art although I always try not to go overboard with the processing.

  5. I think you should always go for the photograph envisioned. And I think you should keep in mind that your reality can be different then ours.

    Matthew and I had some earlier discussion about this and come to phrases like the "photographer" and "image maker". Each has his or her own craft, but the photographer has more to do with understanding and capturing the light and the moment, while the image maker changes the light and the moment in post.

    To get back to your photograph, I think the processed photograph looks really fine and certainly more pleasing. But it might have been possible to with a warmer color temperature in camera.


  6. Wouter, this is an interesting concept of the "photographer" and "image maker" and to some degree you are right. I think that it is not quite as easy though and we are all a bit of both now in the digital age.
    Where it is more difficult to manupulate film, one can easy process images to their liking. Your b&w processing shows taht in part you are also an image maker and this with great effects and rightly so.

  7. I saw a small scene from a new 45 minutes film from Michael Reichmann (Luminious Landscape) and he wanted to capture a photograph of some baobab trees in Madagascar. He found it hard and he eventually cloned some people away. He consiously changed to moment captured and to me that is image making. The suggested images from David Hill are the creations of an image maker in my opinion.

    I see my B&W work still more like the old darkroom age. When I take the photographs I have always intended it to be B&W. I fits my photographic intentions where I don't want to change the framed composition. No intention to remove or add things.

  8. This is interesting Wouter, am not sure what to think of Michael Reichman since I am not really a big fan of his pictures. I think in such an instance I would go more with Charlie Waite's advice and either get the "shot I want or don't take the shot at all".

    I believe even people manipulating and developing images in the darkroom were image makers but you have to be if you are an artist and not just a photojournalist.