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21 February, 2011 / Rob

Post processing and creative process

I’ve always enjoyed tinkering around in post-processing, be it in Aperture, Photoshop or an exotic plug-in.   I can experiment as much as I like with no marginal cost or  permanent error to be afraid of.

I’m far from being a naturally creative person, but I can see the key to being creative when it comes to any art and especially photography is the willingness to experiment and make mistakes.  There are so many people taking photos nowadays and the gear is becoming so cheap that the only thing separating good photographers from the best is creativity.

Listening to creative people like Chase Jarvis and Jeremy Cowart, I can completely agree with the sentiment that the key to exploring your capabilities in a practical way, is to get the picture you’re happy with, then push yourself to make it better.  This is because once you have something that is good, you are free to take risks to make it better and this is when the creativity begines to shine.  In most cases, this is what makes the best images.

* * * * *

I was asked by a friend to turn the photo below into black and white and that the point of the photo was to emphasise the size of the fjord by using the boat as a term of reference and comparison.  I think the original picture does that quite well.

Original

Well, I did just that.  A simple B/W conversion using the channel mixer adjustment in Photoshop by emphasising the red colours for the monochrome conversion to keep the details.  Done.  Happy result.

However, I felt the image could be further improved.  I did some levels/curves to bring out some details in the clouds and to increase the overall contrast slightly.  I then removed the second boat which I felt was distracting and did a slight straighten adjustment.   The image below is what I came up with.

Better

However, looking at the original image, I didn’t think B/W was necessarily the best thing.  I felt colour was still better.  The fog had robbed the original picture of some of this, so my aim was to bring it back.  I did some small saturation adjustment to the colours, especially the blues.  Then I did a gaussian blur layer and a overlay blend mode with a 30% opacity setting to give the colours a bit more pop.  Below is the result.

Creative

* * * * *

By no means do I think the image itself is a shining example of creativity.  After all, I didn’t even take it!  What is important is that, by experimenting and not being afraid to do so, with a clear mind, the outcome will be have a bigger change of being creative.  It’s the process that’s important.

There will be thousands of mistakes before I hit on a winning image, but to not be afraid to experiment and to learn from the thousands of failures, the end result will be the ability to make creative pictures.

A lot of great photographers always say: don’t  just take pictures, make pictures.  I think the only difference between the two is creativity.

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