Worth a Second Look

handI never gave this image a second thought when I took it last year in Paris. The RAW file looked boring and there was nothing really happening, but a few months later I glanced at it again and thought about it in black and white. It was a completely different image—or at least it seemed so to me. I thought it might be more interesting if I blurred it a bit. Usually my philosophy about pictures is to not go overboard with Photoshop and over the past few years I developed a few rules to guide me.

  • Never add anything that was not originally there
  • Never change the lighting or background
  • Allow any modifications which were always done with film. (ie. burning, dodging, etc.)
  • Allow new modifications such as selective alterations, (blurring, contrast, shadows) because if they were possible when photographers used film, they would have already done so.
  • Removal of background objects such as trees, telephone poles, reflections is permissible from time to time as long as it is minor and never noticed.
  • No retouching of people’s faces is allowed—ever!
  • Cropping? I used to have a problem with it but I have mellowed in my older years. Now its allowed but only subtle small crops to straighten an image of get rid of minor distractions.

Follow these simple guidelines and  I can take a good photograph from time to time.

1 Comment

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  1. I agree. A picture, even a botched one, matters.
    The light you took, the photograph you did draw with light, it’s unique.
    The photons you captured will never come back at the same place again, or in the same way. Each picture is unique when it’s taken and if it’s a bit blur, not focused or respecting the usual proportions, it doesn’t matter that much. The pic was taken because either the photographer wanted to tell something, or felt something (that’s why I don’t agree when people say that each photography must tell a story. Sometimes, it tells a feeling).

    Sometimes I see people post pictures in forums and they’re not perfect. Some will come and say that the lighting could be better, than something in the pic should be removed and all the usual blabla. I have to post and tell them the pic is okay because what matters is it’s unique, and it’s the photographer’s view on a story or feeling. People don’t always realize that for a newbie photographer it’s hard to show your pictures, and when people do nothing but critics, it can have a huge (and bad) impact on the newbie that could in ten years take pictures you would only dream of taking…

    Very good blog.


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