Sunday, November 25, 2012
You would think you would immediately recognize when you have taken a better-than-average picture, but I haven't found that to be true. Maybe it is because, even though you may be able to review the image on the back of the camera as soon as you taken the picture, that rendering is not particularly reliable. It wasn't until much later that I realized this image had a lot more potential than I initially thought. And while, yes, it has been manipulated (i.e. optimized) in photo editing software, you must also realize that you cannot improve on a photograph that is bad to begin with. This is not a studio shot of a sacred lotus bud, but is a image that was taken in the field using available sunlight, which happened to be the low light of near dawn. I can only imagine how many lights it would have taken (and how much work would be involved) to achieve the same effect in a studio.
One point I would like to mention while I am thinking about it is that in order to get a perfectly unblemished flower, you must take the photo early in the life of the blossom. The window of opportunity is actually quite narrow and the longer you wait, the greater is the chance of something happening to the flower.
Do you think it is "unfair" to optimize a photograph to achieve the best tone, color, lighting, etc.? I would say 99.9% of the images produced by professionals have been retouched in at least some degree. Ansel Adams, for example, use to spend hours on the printing stage to optimize a photo. In fact, he wrote an entire book on it. He use to say, "The negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance."
Computers and software have only made that process easier.