We are swamped by images these days. In the relatively recent past the creation of images was the preserve of those who had the inclination, enthusiasm and means to go out and purchase a camera. The rise of the smartphone, equipped with a basic camera and instant publishing features, has meant that now vast numbers of people are doing it, as the popularity of sites such as Instagram bear witness to.
As a result the heyday of the traditional photoblog has passed, even if the quality of images taken on an even half decent camera will forever surpass what is capable on a mobile phone a few millimetres thick. In bringing this blog back from the dead I am forced, therefore, to wonder who might possibly be interested in it. It appears to me that beyond the mere posting of images some added value is required. I intend to provide this with some articles about various aspects of photography but I hope also to support this by talking a little about some of the processing involved in my images.
I trust that there is nobody out there in the world who still believes that the published photos that they see, in whatever medium, have not been altered in some way. Every photo ever taken has been manipulated, to a greater or lesser extent, whether by the camera manufacturer or the photographer or the editor. This may appear a bold and unjustified statement but watch this space because I have an article in preparation to make my case for this.
In the meantime, I am writing this post by way of an introduction a new feature I have implemented for forthcoming daily photos on this site. In a new section below each daily image I will be providing a before/after image display along with a little bit of detail on how the image was processed. Drag the slider to see the difference. I’ve also added a zoomable Google map of where the image was taken. The first image with these added features is: Chapel Point, Portmellon.
If you are used to shooting jpegs on your phone or camera and have never encountered RAW files before you may be a little taken aback by how flat, colourless, lacking in contrast, blurry and noisy these ‘digital negatives’ can be. Your phone or camera makes decisions on your behalf to produce something altogether more pleasing. The ever increasing number of apps that apply filters, or offer some other form of processing, allows the camera phone user some pre-packaged creative input on top of this.
I have a standard workflow that involves adjusting the white balance, white and black points, and a little contrast/micro contrast and vibrance in my RAW convertor, before handing the image over to Photoshop where I use specialist plugins for noise reduction and sharpening. I will write a little more in a future post about this workflow but it is something that is familiar to most photographers.
At that point the image may be finished, especially if it is something that might be categorised as ‘documentary’, but more often than not these steps are the precursors for a creative process carried out using Photoshop and a raft of plugins, that transform the image according to my creative vision. It is what happens here that may be of more interest or value to other photographers so this is the broad detail that I intend to provide.
If all this takes some of the magic of the images away for you, then please don’t scroll down that far!