Monday, August 8, 2011

Visualizing the Post-Processed Result

Twice in the last week, I took photographs that in and of themselves were not creative or inspiring captures. Instead, they were shots where I saw potential only through post processing. I felt a little guilty because this approach is counter to most things you read about photography, particularly the emphasis (which I agree with) to capture as much of your desired end result “in camera” instead of in the digital darkroom.
Let me describe both situations.

I was walking through my neighborhood to complete an errand and came upon an old-model Ford pickup truck. Because I also agree with the advice that you should try to have a camera with you at all times, I was carrying my point-and-shoot camera for that “just in case” opportunity. The problem was that the truck was parked such that I couldn't get a clean shot without a lot of clutter behind it. I could have uses my f/1.8 lens to throw the background out of focus, however, like I indicated, I didn’t have my Nikon with me, and second, putting the background out of focus would have also meant having some of the truck also out of focus.
Therefore, I opted to take my shot, knowing that I’d deal with the background in post-production. I didn’t labor hours, but rather did a simple selection and applied a Gaussian blur as well as a slight de-saturation coupled with a decrease in exposure. These adjustments made the truck the star of the image, in spite of a background I had no control over.  (email me if you'd like to see how this came out)
The other situation where post production was part of my image capture strategy was during my visit to the Getty Center this weekend with some of my family, including one of my sons and his girlfriend. There was a point where they were walking ahead of me, hand-in-hand, and the way they were holding hands caught my attention.  As you can imagine, with them walking, and me walking, it would not have been possible to accomplish “in camera” the end result I was visualizing (refer to the photograph to see my final result).
My plan quite simply was to kick up the shutter speed and make a sharp capture in shutter priority mode, and then deal with completing the concept in post production. A tight crop and a bit of vignetting gave me the final result I was after.

So next time you’re out with your camera, open your own “aperture” a bit more and consider captures where post-production is central to your photographic visioning and story telling.

(photo metadata:  1/750 sec @ f/6.7, ISO 200, focal length 62mm)

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