Becoming belligerent about taking the ‘wow’ out.

I see that Photoshop is turning 20 this weekish. Good timing for what’s been on my mind a lot of late.
This web site has a nice historical look back, screen shots of old versions and a bit of history about this photo game changing software.
I would hope that most readers of my blog know that I have started what is called a ‘365 Project’.
It is where you take one photo a day every day for a year. Of course I did not come up with the idea. People have been doing it for years.

One thing that the 365 does is make you look at your own photos and others photos. I think I have looked at other peoples photos more in the last 52 days than ever before. Not just to get ideas, but for me to largely try and see where I am headed with my photography. My passion has always been night and natural light photography.
But is this where I want to stay? Are there other areas of photography that I might like to try during this year of photography?
So, I have been looking. Mostly I have been looking at and
To say I have been shocked is an understatement!
The bulk of the photos on those sites have been manipulated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And most in a big way! Not just tweaked in contrast and brightness, but full on altered!
I feel that Photoshop is a large part of the reason behind this. I’m told that it is both easy to use and a lot of fun.
I’m told this because I would not know. For years I have been holding out against Photoshop and its like. If you asked me a few years back why, I would not have had a real good reason, other than the cost. Ask me now and I still don’t have a good reason (other than cost and time), but my answer now is a lot more passionate.
The more days go by, the more I am becoming firmly resolute that I am not interested in going down that path! But exactly why not was not clear in my mind.
That said, something interesting happen last night and I want to come clean about it……..

My friend Zim is a big photoshop user. ‘All’ (if he has some that are not, I do not know about them) of his photos are put though the program before he puts them up on the web. I’m told that his girlfriend Brenna was using photoshop before he was and is part of the reason he got into it.
Brenna and I had a bit of a photo shoot last night. We took about 60 photos, two were chosen as favorites.
Of the two, one was just a bit too brightly exposed on her arms compared to her face (where we wanted the viewers focus). The comment was made that ‘you could fix that in photoshop’.
Since not only do I not have it, but wont get it, that was out of the question.
So, down to the other photo. It was pretty much on the money for exposure and such. Just the same, since Brenna was both in the photo and sitting next to me when I was viewing the photos she wanted to tweak it a little before it was put on my site.
I normally use Picasa 3 to manage my photos. It allows me to import the raw photos (another blog topic), crop and set color balance and convert the raw image into black and white. (Also for another blog, its a tad annoying that even when I set the camera for b/w, the raw image from the camera is in color).
Picasa 3 did not not have the ‘effect’ Brenna was looking for. Namely, she wanted to darken the corners of the image to bring the views focus into the center of the image.
It occurred to me that I had Adobes other photo management software installed, Lightroom.
I have it on the work laptop for, uh, work. It just so happen that I had the work laptop at home this weekend to do some PHP programming.
Brenna got all excited as she could see her chance at showing me a few things and also for tweaking ‘her’ photo to her liking.
So, we opened her photo in Lightroom, changed the color balance a smige. Darkened the corners a fraction and that was that. You can see the results in my 365 Project photo album on day 52.

While this is a first for me, I have never so ‘extensively’ tweaked a photo before, I feel that I have not crossed any lines. I know its a grey area, that you could argue that I have changed the photo, that it does not show the light at the time it was taken exactly and so on, I still feel that I have not changed the photo’s structure.
Will I do this again. I don’t know.

Now we get down to the real meat of this blog and my thoughts on the subject.
When you look at the photos on 1x and, its hard not to go ‘wow’ often! I mean when I look at those photos and then mine, I felt like I should just give up now. Those other photos were just so much more ‘wow’ than mine. I also felt that since I wanted to hold to my passion for NOT post processing I could never ever take a ‘wow’ photo. I could never compete with them because I would never post process.

’Wow’ photos are made, not taken.

It was from this premise that my mind was in a bit of turmoil.
Perfect timing, enter a tweet from a friend and photographer, Robert Teague.
Robert sent a tweet out pointing to this blog entry here.
(Please take the 3-4 minutes to read it before going on with my blog).

Here in that blog from Dav was the verbalization of what was rattling around in my head.
When I wanted to be ‘wowed’ I hit up those web sites, when I want to look at something that I would hang on my wall, I am happy to look at my (and Robert’s and a few others) photos.
Here is one photo that I took that I am thinking about getting a large print of, here is another, this time, I feel my friend Doug has captured something beautiful and timeless.
Sure, you may not go ‘wow’ when you first see them, but I hope that you, the viewer, would find a sense of calm and enjoy coming home to it on your wall day after day.

So, will I start photoshopping or lightrooming my photos…? Yes, BUT ONLY if it enhances the soothing aspect of the photo. I do NOT want to get to the point where I am pushing what comes out of the camera to become a ‘wow’ photo.

My 365 Project and time on the internet has helped me see a little more clearly where I want to take my photography.
Thanks also to Brenna (and Zim), I am really happy with the photo and tweak from last night.
Might just have to print that one out and hang it on my wall……