Posted by Au Lim On Friday, July 04, 2008
just a few days ago, i was pleased to encounter a friend i haven't seen in a long time. i was even more pleased to find out he is just as crazy as photography as i am pala... even crazier perhaps since he was a photographer even before digital. "Talaga," i said. "i bet Nikon user ka..." and indeed, he is. we now have a new found camaraderie.

predictably, we chattered for a long time on the phone that day and several more times after that. at first, he was just asking me about how i watermark my photos. i taught him how i do it with Photoshop. consequently, our conversation drifted to other Photoshop talk. after i told to him some of my PS tricks, he jivingly accused me..."aha! photo-shop-grapher ka no?!"...well...YEAH!...i guess you can say that...

i find this kinda funny though, since he said it like i should feel guilty. this is reaction is not new to me since i've encountered photography purists (those who disdain photomanipulation of any kind) before. i have to agree with them, when it comes to photography--strictly speaking--most of the work should be done before the actual shoot takes place. this determines the skill of the photographer, technically and artistically. Sir Ross of OWG, once showed us a video of how David LaChapelle works and it is amazing to see him set up a concept shoot.

however, in the real world--or at least, in MY real world--i do not always have the means, the timing, or the opportunity to do a full scale concept shoot with all the bells and whistles of a pro like La Chappelle. and being a newbie, i do not have all the technical knowhow yet as well. but there is one tool i do have that i am not shying away from: Photoshop.

see, sometimes, i encounter moments that are just not clicker perfect. take for example the photo below. i shot it practically on the sly, when i do not have time to set the optimum camera settings for the light conditions at that time and place. i barely had 3 seconds to take an angle, steady my position and squeeze the trigger. then i had to move away.

unfortunately, i was coming from one location where i had set the white balance for flourescent lighting and moved to where i should have placed it to maybe shade or auto instead. 3 seconds was not enough to do it. after seeing i bummed out the white balance and that is was softer than i would have preferred, should i have just deleted it forever from my SD card? but, i love the subject on the photo i just took! so what's a photocrazy girl supposed to do? photoshop it, of course. the resulting photo was practically how i saw it originally too. (okay, maybe with a bit more saturation in there also...:-D)

should i feel guilty that i had to photomanipulate it? hey, even film photographers have their darkroom techniques. what's wrong with using the digital equivalent of one?

so, if and whenever, i want the challenge of no post-processing--which i know is good for honing straight photography skills--all i have to do is just that: don't post-process. i can simply try to get my settings right from the get go. but there are no rules that says i should NOT post-process (unless they are contest rules!) specially during times when it is needed. also, when i need a bit of artsy effects in my boring life (haha!), i love to create my own reality with photoshop!

i seriously think doing PS manipulation is an art by itself. and this is why i try to learn more and practice it. i would love to be as good as the some of the artists whose photos i see on Flickr. perhaps the key is knowing HOW to use it well and WHEN to use it and not use it as a crutch all the time. i also think employing PS with photography is akin to adding cream to your coffee. it just adds to it a different flavor and dimension. of course, one person may prefer to take their coffee black, maybe even grow the right coffee bean for that cup of java and consider that the art of it, too. i also agree. however, i'm also the Starbucks afficionado. i like to take my coffee every which way. sometimes, straight up and sometimes...with all the frills.

blue circa 1950's Buick at the Transport Show
other than the watermark and minor cropping,
NO post-processing

{btw, speaking of Starbucks, my current favorite is the frappucino variety, dark choco mocha with bits of chocolate and a double helping of whipped cream. just in case you wanna buy me a grande...hehehe...}

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