While doing the solar eclipse shoot a few days ago, the thought struck me and I just felt the need to discuss it. It so happens that like art, photography too is something that runs in my veins. However I am a product of the digital age of photography.
My father and even my life partner (Rony) were/are photographers from the analog age. Even my teacher belongs to the non digital age of photographers. There is a great advantage being from there. They don’t rely on the LCD screens to tell them what their shots look like. They know it, because they learnt it the hard way, having to go through their negatives, selecting and then printing them. Yes my father was a person who needed to work on his own images. He had his own little dark room created for processing.
I got into photography a few years ago and yes it’s very recent that I picked up the camera and very soon it was professionally and for artistic reasons. In fact the need to photograph and catalogue my own work plus the need to experiment between mediums ended up in me getting my first Nikon as a Mother’s day present. Have to tell you that has been the best Mothers day present so far. Rony, has known me, for almost 22 years and been married for 19 ½ of those. He has learnt that jewellery and bags do not get me half as excited as letting me go crazy in a Utrecht in Portland, Oregon or buying me a fancy lens as an anniversary present.
Soon after that I went for my first photography workshop, with my art and photography mentor. That’s a whole other story on its own. So without digressing anymore I will come to the point now. It was after this that my sister handed over my Dad’s camera and some of his photography equipment. Thanks to her, while I was using some of these during the solar eclipse shoot the whole thought about editing and how much, if at all and how little do we need to do, should be discussed on a photography blog.
If you are wondering why, let me tell you that photo editing is not something that just sprung up with the digital age. No, on the contrary photo editing is as old as photography itself. Much of this happened during processing in the dark room. This was done with tinting, toning and cropping to get the image of perfection. This of course was left to professionals and enthusiasts who did have a lot of time on their hand. While looking at my Dad’s hand held filters I just had to think that the digital computerised age has made it so simple for us. Almost every one has a digital camera and almost everyone has some basic photo editing tool.
Now this is where the focus of my discussion lies. Is it absolutely necessary to edit a shot? I say no. Yet with that comes the basic other question is it a “picture” in the first place. Sorry to say with the advent of the digital camera you do see a lot of photographers who still don’t know their settings. They have not bothered to get acquainted with their equipment. They buy a camera and leave it in its box and then come for the first photography workshop expecting you teach them how to unwrap the camera from the box and put on the straps for it too. It’s not rocket science. You do have a manual and even a disk that will educate you on your equipment and you can avail of the world wide web. These I still indulge as like me they have not been born to and surrounded with photographers on every side. I take them through and they even have my phone number to ask me questions sometimes from their overseas trips.
It is the so called Photographer that I see shooting in auto mode that I have a complete eye rolling moment. Some don’t know how to shoot in manual and can’t even differentiate between the aperture and their speed. Some will try to go full on into the ISO settings without ever exploring other options. Then some others will take my camera and take a shot and say see I did good didn’t I. I have to nod thinking well pressing the button on the top doesn’t define the word “photographer”. Actually its knowing your settings, using them to full and of course most importantly cropping and knowing what to shoot and how much to shoot. The easiest way especially since you have the screen is clicking till you have your right shot. Don’t give up so easily. Why correct when you can perfect it in the “Now”. Yes you have to know how to shoot before you know how to edit. Some take great pride in not using any editing in their shots. I wish I could see what they see in their shots. Once again learn the basic: good cropping differentiates between an average shot and a super shot.
For those hoping to learn about photo editing tools there are loads of free options in the market. Some of these allow you to do some extended magic with skin tone etc which full suites of professional software don’t have. I have my certification to use Adobe software way in the 90’s. I used to help edit and work on visual creations then. Hence I have been a Adobe Photoshop user for the longest time. While a lot of semi professionals use Light room I can tell the difference in the post edits. There is a sense of exaggeration in these free tools and over dramatization in some others. Again this differs from person to person. My personal preference is Photoshop if at all. I love its design elements as well as I use it for my artistic productions sometimes on my digital paintings.
There are some photographs that a little tweaking of the exposure will give it the right amount of magic needed. For some shots you know that black and white would be the best and even that added sepia touch. It’s knowing how to use and how much to use again that you can make the best use of your photo editing tools. You owe it to yourself and the software to not exaggerate.
Recently, had the pleasure of meeting a super creative mind. He has been purchasing these old analog cameras and has been getting some awesome results. A brilliant mind, he does not restrict himself to just canvases but explores between film and photography. He does his commercial ad films to make the money to indulge in his expensive passions. He is quite an inspiration and although we were supposed to, we missed shooting together due to an unfortunate incident. Looking forward, to doing that in the recent future. His website is under construction but once it’s done would love to share it here.
I will end with this little tip, do take the time do de-saturate and see your photo in black and white. If it stands the test of looking spectacular sans colour you know you have nailed it. Happy shooting.