Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Today's Photography Is it Real or Art?

I was going to post about the Polar Vortex.  But after 3 days of 'it' with incredibly cold temps and wind chills that were nasty, I'm really not too interested in saying any more than. 
We survived.  Cars started, animals were kept reasonably comfortable, and I hated it because I couldn't go for hikes.

Recently I joined a group of people on Google+ that are B&W photographers.  I thought, cool, I'll learn things!

And I am learning a lot of things.

One of our requirements is to tell the steps of how we 'process' a photo and why we did it that way.

I've heard terms tossed around like ...  Photoshop CC [on line Adobe Creative Cloud], SEP2, which I learned is Silver Efex Pro 2.  This is part of the Nik Collection of plugins for Photoshop.  This is not a Nikon product!
There are others like I use by Topaz.

But I am a basic kind of photographer.  Black and white is my choice in the winter more often than not.  The landscape just sort of asks for it.

These are pretty basic winter shots that I've done mainly because the color of winter asks for it in my own opinion.

Conversion was pretty simple.  I used Topaz BW Effects ... Quick and easy.

For this group I did some more experimenting. 
I took a sunrise photo that was so-so and converted to Black and White.

Foggy morning September sunrise.  Simple edit.  I even used an ancient Adobe Elements 5 for this.  I ran it through the BW Effects from Topaz and viola.  I was done in about 30 seconds.

Okay enough bout that.

Here is some of what I am seeing in some other photographer's shots....
First off.  These shots are incredible.  Excellent.

Maybe far superior than anything I can hope to do.
But when the workflow is listed for some it sounds like a 9 hr job.

Luminance masks.
Light room -- whichever current version there is.
Photoshop CC
Photoshop Creative Suite
Photomatix Pro
and other programs I've not heard of.

One person discussed his work flow.  The photo was incredible. He used 9 layers of edits in Photoshop CC to the original photo including SEP2 and Light Room.
Yes the shot was fantastic.  Yes, it was artistic.
But at what point do we lose the photo and does it become a 'vision'.

One could argue and I would agree, that a photographer's photo is an expression of art of sorts.
Even I do that.  I can't help it.

This is an age old argument and one that will probably never ever be solved.
Myself, I am learning.  
Maybe I will like what I learn about these super processed photos and then again, I may just stay and do what I like best.

Do it my way.


  1. In the end, all that matters is the vision of the artist. If that means minimal processing, than that's all that should be done.

    If photo-realism is the goal, than no image should ever be converted to B&W. By converting a scene to B&W we're already taking the biggest step in altering the scene to mach our vision for it. In the end, there's not a lot of difference between a 5 minute conversion and a 9 hour workflow. It's just a matter of degree.

    In looking at the images I see in publications, advertising and the world around me, I keep one idea in mind, "nothing is real". From there I simply look to see how they did it.

  2. Thanks Charles, this is just my personal view of course. I like editing as much as anyone else who has fun with it.

    You pointed out a wonderful point I hadn't though of.


  3. Breathtaking pictures Val, very inspiring. Thanks for sharing the tips!

  4. I'm glad you made it through all the nasty cold. I was thinking of you when my car complained about starting:)

    I love these photos, especially the tree. I like the minimal processing as well, but maybe that's because I've never had the patience to learn the computer stuff. I'd rather be out taking pictures. Thanks for sharing the tips though, maybe I'll try some of them out the next time the weather gets horrible, like tomorrow.