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Saturday, 19 October 2013

To Process or Not to Process, That is the Question

As a painter, and I guess too as a photographer, I was not so much into over synthesizing my imagery. As many artists who know me have mentioned, I am a tertiary palette liker. I love earthy and natural tones, natural light, and don't buy many "man made" colours when I buy paint. I stuck mainly to natural colours, though of course, not just the 3 primaries.

These preferences stretched into everyday things as well. I do not like HD tv - the over crisp hard lined outliney, high contrast images, dark flat shadows, that seem to be the norm for television the last decade or so. I prefer more subtle value change, especially in figures and faces. Not to say though that I don't love dramatic light conditions.

Photography has always sort of been there, along with painting. I loved working from photographic reference for my paintings, logical since I loved painting portraits (who the hell has time to sit for someone all the time lol!) and also since my love was realistic rendering. Though I have drawn from life since age 16, and still do, and do it well, I prefer my finished pieces to be from worked out compositions and proper reference for subjects or objects, though I am not a slave to my reference material.

Photography has sort of actually taken a forefront seat as my artistic outlet the last 2 1/2 yrs. This was mainly due to limited space in which to work, possibly eyesight changes, and gawd knows what else, but my painting instincts and abilities seemed to just leave me. Hopefully they will return, but if they don't......I guess photography will have to do.

I have even begun to consider a photo a finished piece of artwork, and not just a tool for or stepping stone to a finished painting or drawing. I can't just treat a photo anymore as "who gives a crap as to what is in the background, I don't need to draw that in anyway" or "who cares what colour that is" etc., Or...I'd be doing a hell of a lot of work in Photoshop Elements to clean up my obliviousness to composition and distractions mistakes at the photo taking stage lol! I have to consider my composition at the time I shoot now, if I want something I can work with to create a composition that works in the end. And I know, myself and from others, I am a nitpicky visual artist lol! I like to tweak and finesse till my eye and emotions are satisfied lol! Even if in the end I am the only one who feels the whole image works lol!

Beginning to actually consider the advice a few have given me that I should offer my images for sale, I have come to realize, somewhat sadly, a fact. Natural images with soft transitions and not always sharp sharp detail, do not attract the eyes of many viewers, hence buyers. Viewers want highly saturated colour, high contrast, over abundant detail everywhere, etc. They love HD'd to death images. I don't. But, I will admit, having used a couple filters recently, I have been excited by my original image as well as the finished product I get after "processing". I still try to maintain something of the original that drew me to shoot the image in the first place, and some images lose their special thing when processing is added so those, I don't do too much to, possibly just clean up distracting little things in the subject matter, such as sticks sticking up, little weird shapes in the background, grungy spots on petals, etc. that take away from the subject. Other images, I have used a combo of filters and hand work, such as erasing back and forth with a brush on a layer mask or eraser, to maintain blurred backgrounds but keep a focused subject 3 dimensional and focal. Which means I do have to do a lot of manual labour, like a painter, on my image to get it where I want it, to where my eye and brain go "Yeah!" So, this means not just applying a filter and voila, a perfect photo no sweat.

Unfortunately, the images that have the most "pumping up" with processing seem to garner the most attention, votes, likes, comments, etc. sad but true :-( Some do end up as my favs but I must say, most of my true favs among my own photo work are often ones that are very close to exactly what I saw and shot.

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