Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Acer leaves and real colours

click photo to enlarge
The widespread use of photographic enhancement is starting becoming a problem. I don't frequent social media websites, but the images that I see associated with them frequently have an effect applied - bleached colours, heavy vignetting, "antiquing", heavily saturated colour, etc. Enthusiast websites such as Flickr, 500px and the rest all too often feature shots that have been heavily processed to the point where I'm often tempted to ask, "On which planet were these taken?"

Now, I'm aware that photography comes in many forms, and manipulated images have always featured in the craft. However, too often the manipulation is to achieve no other end than to make the image more eye-catching; in other words they are a substitute for vision and skill, and they frequently take the photograph into the realm of painting. Down the road of ever more effects, lies an escalation that ends in madness.

The other problem with the omni-presence of manipulation is that it makes us disparage reality and even forget what it looks like. Consequently it can make some examples of photographic reality look like examples of manipulation. Take today's photograph of fallen acer leaves. The colours on display have a similarity to shots that have received a washed-out magenta cast. But, there has be no such trickery involved. These are the colours the camera recorded and they are quite close to what my eye saw. The only effect I've added here is that old stalwart, vignetting, where I used it to accentuate the shadows that were naturally invading the scene. My armoury of effects, by and large, involves the digital equivalents of the wet process effects we used in pre-digital days, especially dodging, burning and vignetting. Am I old-fashioned? In this regard, probably.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 100mm (150mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6 Shutter
Speed: 1/160 sec
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On