As photographers software over the years has mad it possible to take an image of a trashcan and convert it to a flower. The so-called purists say that if you have any skills you will get it correct out of camera. To me that is just a load of hocus, but is there guidelines or limits when it comes to post processing your images? Personally I do try and keep edits in post to a five minute limit, but yes I do still edit photo’s. My skills are limited to what I can do in Lightroom and I edit to achieve correct composition, correct exposure , fix obstacles or spots and finally to see if I can enhance the photo in a realistic way to attach the same emotion to the image that my eye saw when I took the shot.
To illustrate this here is a photo I took in the week that is pretty much out of camera
So what do I try to achieve here?
The bridge is the main focus and anything in focus will draw they eye of the viewer first and over items that is not. The slow exposure of the waves blurs out and is not the main focus. The lights on the pier also draws the eye of the viewer to the pier as it is the bright spots. The subtle transition from the blue skies to the orange sunrise glow does not distract the attention from the pier even though brighter sections tend to draw the viewers eye and and can be a distraction. Note how there is a play with the rule of thirds, balance, depth, background and leading lines. Overall not too shotty.
Now here is the edit. Spot it before you read on
So did you notice it? The only thing I removed was the cloud in the sunrise. I have no issue removing an object that is not normally there , but a cloud is a natural object so is removing it wrong? For me clouds are either spectacular or they are blobs in the image. So in this image I decided to remove it as it does not add to the image, but is a distraction. To me this makes a big impact in the image and is an realistic enhancement of the image. You can easily picture yourself on that spot for the sunrise seeing the wonderful colors of the sunrise and whether there were clouds in the sky or not will not matter.
Conclusion? I think if you do commercial work anything goes, but for other work I think it is very much a question of personal taste. As for me if it is realistic and still manages to pull on the heartstrings of the viewer, its a good photo I can live with.