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.
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.
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.
This 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.