Swansea Photographers – Building an Image
Most people, who are not photographers often believe that a great photo is the result of a photographer who has a good camera and knows how to use it properly. That the photograph is taken at the time the photographer clicks the shutter release button
. While this is partly true there are so many other factors that come into play whilst creating a good photo. Building an Image can be quite common in the way a lot of photographers work.
What people do not realise is that some of the time photos are ‘created’ and images ‘made’ in post production software such as lightroom, photoshop and others. Most people may be familiar or have an understanding of ‘photo editing’ and also the use of photoshop, thinking that to edit a photo its a process where photos are sharpened, cropped and colour corrected. This is of course true but a good image maker will go one step further and compose and ‘build’ a photo sometimes from several photos taken at different exposures and then use photoshop and other tools to ‘build’ and layer further until the desired look and end result is created. There are no rules here, except to say that a good image maker will know when to stop!
‘Image making’ as well as what most people understand to be ‘editing’ as part of our wedding photography is extremely important to us at Kapow, even on the smallest level. That’s why I wanted to write a blog with a great example of a photo I made earlier this summer that explains this. The photo below is very personal to me and therefore means a lot, As Swansea Photographers
its a shot I’d been wanting to capture for a while, and is a great example of photos being made in post production with the idea for the photo and the ‘image making’ being much more important than the photographer just going ‘click’!
The photo as you can see is of myself standing overlooking the fantastic worms head at Llangennith
holding hands with my two children Luke and Chloe. My wife and I had taken the kids up there for a walk one sunny day back in May this year. Now As I’m actually in the photo that can only mean one thing – better give my wife a job! – isn’t she just a great photographer! – Actually, as it happens she is good, but this isn’t the ‘original’ photograph that she took! : ) And this being the entire point of the blog!
The photo was taken both by my wife Nicola AND myself ! Ha, I bet that’s confused you!
is made from three parts…
1. The photo that Nicola took on her iPhone 4 (she needed to do this as I’m in the photo)
2. The photo that I took of the landscape on my Nikon D700 and 14-24mm F2.8 lens two days earlier when I took a walk up there with a friend
3. The merging of the iPhone photo in the exact same spot of my Nikon photo and the ‘image making’ process two days later
Now you may think that’s cheating, and certainly if my wife had taken the photo of us three anywhere else then In my opinion it would be. The photo would be a lie. But as we were actually there and that is the actual spot then the photo is very much true. In fact the photo possibly would not of worked if my wife had taken the photo anywhere else, it had to be there on that spot for it to work really. Below is the photo my wife actually took on her iPhone 4…
So as you can see its not always about the photographer on the day or in this case the quality or brand of the camera. Good photography goes much further. The creative idea and the post processing are equally and ‘sometimes’ more important than the brand of camera or lens used. Photography is about more than just clarity and sharpness of a photo. Emotions, situations and drama also play its part. There’s a very well known photography quote that sums this up….
“The best photographer is the one who always has a camera with them” even if that’s your phone camera!
So below is my original photo that I took a few days earlier. I’ve purposely uploaded it here in RAW format, as it came out of the camera with no editing whatsoever, just as an example of what our photos look like at the moment when we shoot a wedding for example and the importance of good editing.
So as I began to build my final image the first thing to work on was the iPhone photo of us three. This I immediately turned into black and white as we would need to be silhouettes with the sun that bright directly in front of the camera. I won’t go into much detail as to what I did next, you can probably see it was layered, the grad filter in lightroom was used and various sliders and colours were used and other tools and tricks. There was around an hour spent in total working to perfect the final image. Just one Image… and it took one hour!
So did I cheat? This is the question of ethics and aesthetics, this is the question that mainly arises! Some purists out there would argue I did. To me digital manipulation in photography are just part of the tools we have for the job and all I have done is made the photo aesthetically more pleasing to the eye. In certain circumstances it would be a crime not to use these tools.
The best selling app Instagram is a perfect example of this in its simplest form, where the photographer gets a “choice” of different presets or colours to use that aim to ‘improve’ the photo with one click. The process goes way back in photography terms even before the use of the modern day computer. Dodging and Burning is an example of this. Ansel Adams being a master of this back in the day. There is no digital camera out there that will perfectly capture the world as it truly is anyway, there will always be manipulation of reality on some level. To some degree. Aesthetically I have created the image in a style to my personal taste in contrast and colour. Just as an artist would if they were to paint a similar seascape on canvas. I have also composed it as I wanted by making the sun higher and cropping it. I have built an image.
So how does all this play its part in wedding photography? Well we don’t go quite to these extremes with wedding photos as we believe that we are documenting a day as it was and its our opinion that while presets and filters are ok to use and colour changes acceptable sometimes; changing a bride and groom photo to this degree would be over the top! But we do like to de-clutter backgrounds of images. Taking away objects in order to improve the photo and building an image to a lesser degree. This will tie in with the sharpening, cropping, exposure adjustments, noise reduction and colour correction and what I call the basic editing. – Karl