Porth Nanven, Cot Valley, Cornwall – Boundaries

Here’s a few more pictures from my recent dawn shoot at Porth Nanven in the Cot Valley, Cornwall.  This really is a very special place and needs very little help from the Photoshop toolbox but in the third image posted today, I let my imagination run just a little bit.

Porth Nanven, Cot Valley, Cornwall - Boundaries II24mm f/8 60 sec. ISO-100

There is always a lot of talk about post processing pictures.  Otto hosted a very interesting discussion on the subject recently of lines and boundaries and definitions of photography in the digital age.  For me, shooting RAW, I always post process my images, it’s a requirement.  I like to have that control.  If you shoot jpegs and are happy to let your camera do the processing for you, that’s fine but of course the pictures are still processed.

Porth Nanven, Cot Valley, Cornwall - Boundaries24mm f/8  76 sec. ISO-100

There does come a point however when a post-processed photograph becomes something more and here I like the way the Royal Photographic Society categorises images such as these for the purposes of gaining distinctions from the Society.  These images come under ‘Visual Art’ category.

To make the image below, I took one of the two original photographs.  I then went through my archives digging out photographs with really nice clouds in them as well as photos with birds.  I then created some Photoshop brushes, quite a simple process for which there are many tutorials, and ‘painted’ the clouds and the birds onto the image.  The moon was added in exactly the same way.  You don’t need to make your own brushes of course.  There are many out there freely available but I wanted to work with elements added from my own photographs.  I then spent some time with gradient maps, adjustment layers, luminosity masks and rendered lighting effects to create just the atmosphere I wanted.

Porth Nanven, Cot Valley Post Processed

40px spacerThis was a first for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the process.  I could have kept going, I was at the tip of an iceberg of possibilities.  Is it cheating?  Only if I pretended it was something it wasn’t.  Is it photography?  It is in my opinion.  Just a very exciting extension of traditional form made possible and very accessible in the digital era.

By the end of this process I was left pondering the question as to why anyone would get up at 2 am to take photographs when 9 am would do.  Any photograph, with some work, can be made to look like it was taken at any time of day.  I can create any mood or atmosphere I like in a photograph and it can all be done from my desk in front of my PC.

I’m very excited about the boundless opportunities that this photographic visual art presents.  One is limited only by one’s imagination and skill both as a photographer and as a Photoshopper.

I know why I get up at 2 am to take photographs however, and that just isn’t going to change.  I’m in love with the landscape I photograph, I love taking pictures of it, I love capturing its many moods first hand.  If I don’t get the photo I want one day, I come back the next.  It’s all part of the challenge and the joy of photography.  There is nothing to match waiting for first light, crouched with your camera, listening as the birds start their dawn chorus.  Waiting and clicking the shutter, composing and readjusting and being 100% immersed in the landscape and absorbed in the process of taking photographs .  For me that beats the hell out of ‘making’ them in a computer.

42 responses

  1. Great way of showing what I have been trying to discuss. For me the last photo is indeed a photo – and I have no problems whatsoever with the way you processed, exactly for the reason you point to yourself: You are open about the processing. As cool as it has become; I still favour the second image. And I don’t think you would have been able to produce this photo if it had been taken around midday. :-)

    July 9, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    • Thank you Otto. I think you’re right, even with a Lee big stopper filter and some Photoshop magic, I wouldn’t have been able to produce these images at midday. That was a bit of an exaggeration. There will always be something unique about capturing the image in the moment. :-)

      July 10, 2014 at 8:24 am

  2. An absolutely beautiful image! I have come to change my mindset in processing since taking up photography. I think digital photography has become a new artform in itself and if you can do this from your desktop then that’s great. The result is just stunning and beauty is to be admired. I’m with you on the whole experience of being there though. Wonderful work, a great post :)

    July 9, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    • Thank you very much Norma. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. As you say, nothing like being there to take the photo you want to take when the light is just right. As a new art form, digital photography has so much to offer. I’m planning on exploring some more but I’ll still be out there at ridiculous times of day.. :-)

      July 10, 2014 at 8:28 am

  3. Two in the morning is a bit early for my hiking adventures, thus far anyway, but I totally and completely understand that urge, that drive to be out there so early, before the other photographers, or hikers, get out there and start making distractions of themselves, so that you can enjoy the true peace of what you’re photographing (or hiking). Beautiful images, Adrian…and beautiful “visual art,” as well. :)

    July 10, 2014 at 12:23 am

    • Thank you Scott. There is something very special about dawn and the start of a new day. I imagine in Arizona you don’t have to get up quite so early to catch the sunrise. :-)

      July 10, 2014 at 8:52 am

  4. Your effort of beeing there in the landscape you love, waiting to click the shutter, that is what makes your photography. And very well done too, Adrian.

    July 10, 2014 at 12:26 am

    • Thank you Bente. I really appreciate your comment. It is all about being out there! :-)

      July 10, 2014 at 9:33 am

  5. Beautiful shots Adrian and you’ve hit the nail on the head with the last paragraph 😊

    July 10, 2014 at 6:13 am

    • Thank you Mark, much appreciated! :-)

      July 10, 2014 at 9:35 am

  6. That last image is pure, unadulterated magic. It’s marvelous. I do love the direction that photography seems to be headed, where the sky is virtually the limit. It feels much like the revolution that happened with paintings or sculpture. Great work.

    July 10, 2014 at 6:57 am

  7. You certainly had a lot of fun here, Adrian! I think you’ve made a wistful, almost magical seeming image, be a great album cover in the days of LPs!! But I’m on your side regarding getting the image you want without anything beyond basic adjustments to start with. Making an image on the computer is just an offshoot…

    July 10, 2014 at 7:31 am

    • Thank you Sue. Ahh those LP album covers were quite a lucrative source of income for artists and photographers I understand. Not so now of course. :-)

      July 10, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      • :)

        July 10, 2014 at 5:39 pm

  8. Wow, Adrian, these are incredibly peaceful. Medatative. It certainly is fun to play with images but I agree, it is the ‘being there’ experience that fills one up.

    July 10, 2014 at 7:52 am

    • Thank you Karen. There’s no substitute for being there, that’s for sure.

      July 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

  9. Fabulous spot Adrian …. and your Photoshopped version is a bit different! :) Personally I see PS as another tool in the creative box and if it helps free our self expression that’s great – honesty is the only other necessary ingredient!

    July 10, 2014 at 8:06 am

    • Thank you Noeline. Have you been to Porth Nanven? If not you should add it to your itinerary next time you’re down. It really is such an interesting place to photograph! :-)

      July 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm

  10. Beautiful soft light and great composition, Adrian!
    Greetings, Ron.

    July 10, 2014 at 8:40 am

    • Hello Ron, Thank you very much for your comment. Much appreciated.

      July 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

  11. Such a magical image, Adrian. It’s so amazing what one can do with photo processing. It must be such fun to experiment. Well done on the 2am start. :)

    July 10, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    • Thank you Sylvia. It is amazing and with very little skill as an artist in the traditional sense, i.e drawing and painting, one can produce artwork on the computer and it’s great to be able to express oneself like that. :-)

      July 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

  12. You’re a real artist

    July 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    • Aww, thank you very much Lou! :-)

      July 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm

  13. Very nice pictures and I will think of walruses when I see pictures of these stones … Very beautiful! :-)

    July 10, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    • Thank you Eva. These stones do have a very organic look and feel to them. I thought of seals but walrus is better. :-)

      July 10, 2014 at 8:02 pm

  14. I do like these images, Adrian, and I so agree with your eulogy to “being there”. I enjoyed you final image. I wonder what the response would have been if you simply added a moon and didn’t mention the fact you had added it. I will never tire of looking at photos of the sea. Keep them coming!

    July 10, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    • Thank you Malcolm. It would have been interesting to see what the reaction would have been if I hadn’t mentioned my Photoshop activity as you say. Whoever it was that said a photograph doesn’t lie was sadly misguided. I wonder why we all know that saying when since the dawn of photography, photographs have been doing just that. Perhaps it was said ironically. I will endeavour to keep the pictures coming! :-)

      July 11, 2014 at 8:45 am

  15. Ben

    Great post and I absolutely agree with your sentiments. For me photography is about connecting with the landscape and the nature that surrounds it. You can’t do that with a computer. Having said that, I do post-process my photos. I always try to create something that best translates the feeling that a landscape gave me, without making the shot look unrealistic. It’s a fine balance and I still have a lot to learn! I like your second shot the most, for me the composition in the first is slightly unbalanced by the coastline on the right hand side. Beautiful pastel colours throughout!

    July 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    • Thank you Ben. It’s useful sometimes to unbalance a composition, perhaps introduce a little tension. In this case I wanted to include the headland, to put the beach and rocks in context if you like but I take your point. Thanks for the comments. :-)

      July 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm

  16. Morning shots are the most magical. I’ve always admired the self-discipline you have to get out there so early. I’ve never regretted making the effort, but I regret that I rarely do. You inspire us.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

    July 11, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    • Thank you so much Wendy! :-)

      July 11, 2014 at 10:34 pm

  17. poppytump

    I agree with you wholeheartedly ChillB .. my sense of purpose and connection with nature and the landscape has been heightened by my frequent early morning photography sessions and with it comes a real buzz and a clearing of the mind .
    Pushing and extending the boundaries can often bring rewards as can be seen here .. a great many of your images I find are like a personal invitation to imaginatively wander anyhow , so an opportunity to see YOUR own creativity with Photoshop in one of your photographs in this way is an added bonus :-)
    Loving that sky …. those clouds are sublime … I wonder if I could put an order in for Winter …

    July 12, 2014 at 8:52 am

    • Thank you so much Poppy. There is nothing like those early morning shoots is there? You may certainly put an order in for Winter. I’m really enjoying exploring the new side to the photographic creative process. Having decided I’d take up watercolour painting to feed the creative urges when not taking photographs, I’m thinking that I’d be better off exploring this new angle a little more! :-) x

      July 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      • poppytump

        I know you won’t give up though ChillB .. that’s just not you ;-)

        July 12, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      • No I won’t, I will keep trying. I have a painting to finish! :-)

        July 12, 2014 at 6:18 pm

  18. Very well written, Adrian. I have no problems at all in saying that the final image is Photography. It’s a beautiful work of Art, and I think it is true Visual Art. But as an aside I’ve just joined the Digital Imaging section of the RPS after a prod, and have just been going through their latest excellent gallery of images. About 50% are composites. There’s also a Contemporary Group. So which section/group does what! I’m confused.
    But back to your image. The way I answer the question: ‘is this a photograph’?, is to ask another one. If Ansel Adams had had Photoshop available to him, how do we think he would have used it? We will never know, of course. But what we can say is that he pushed the processing envelope as far as he could. We are just doing the same.

    July 14, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    • Thank you Andy. I’ll be interested to hear more about your involvement in the Digital Imaging Section of the RPS in the coming months. I’m sure Ansel Adams would have been using all the tools available to create the image he wanted. We are so very lucky to be working in the digital age where all the tools are so accessible.

      July 15, 2014 at 7:49 am

  19. Great post Adrian. These are the discussions that are so important to consider and feel comfortable with. With the colors of the first two shots, I love it (the second one being my favorite) ~ but further processes also adds magic, so I see nothing wrong with the last (except a bit too crowded…which actually makes it even more amazing). Wonderful post!!!

    July 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    • Thank you Randall. Digital has made the creative possibilities with photography seemingly endless and so much more accessible. It’s a very democratic medium and this is one of the reasons I love it so much.

      July 22, 2014 at 3:56 pm

  20. Really wonderful words here – you cut through quite easily to the pith of the matter. I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long, but that’s what happens when work robs me from spending time with my blogging friends. Gotta eat though!

    August 3, 2014 at 8:48 pm