Friday, October 14, 2011
Reality or Perception?
This is a photo of the base of a juniper tree with a light dusting of snow. The question is, what did I see? Was this the lighting condition at the time? Is the photo "accurate" in that it reproduces my experience? What would I do to adjust the photo to more accurately reflect the time and place? For some purposes, the photo is fine as it is. But the real question is not what the conditions were at the time I took the picture, but what do I want this picture to become? Here is a first pass at adjusting the white balance.
The top photo is dominated by a blue cast. The bottom photo adjusted for the cloudy conditions of the day, gives a richer, reddish hue, that is more faithful to my idealized image of a juniper tree. Are there any other adjustments that can be made? Of course. I could do quite a bit with the exposure, recovery, fill light, blacks, brightness, contrast, clarity, vibrance and saturation. Perhaps you are getting the idea that adjusting a photo is truly like painting with light. Here is a second try at adjusting the image using some of the tools:
You can begin to see my internal concept of the tree. Which one did I see when I was standing in the snow storm? I saw the potential of a picture, not the actual picture. I liked the composition but it could be made a little tighter. Here is another try, this time with some cropping to take out a bit of the extraneous.
What do you think? Am I "done" with adjustments? I think the final picture is just fine, thank you. But just in case, I have actually done any adjustments to the "original" and could go back and start over again with the same picture.