Thursday, December 17, 2015

Editing Choices Are Critical To Photography

Sunrise At The Wind Farm - Tehachapi, California
I usually don't make multiple versions of the same exposure; however, occasionally I will make multiple versions of the same image for different reasons. Perhaps because I'm not sure exactly how the image should be post-processed. Perhaps because I want to make a point here on this blog, which is the case with the images in this post.

The backstory is I'm driving early one morning a couple of weeks ago on a backroad through the Tehachapi Mountains in central California. This is an area known for wind and wind farms. As I'm driving this fantastic sunrise unfolds in front of me. I pull over, grab my Sony RX100 II camera, roll down the window, and expose Sunrise At The Wind Farm

When I post-processed the image I made the color version at the top of this post. It's how I envisioned the photograph when I captured it. It's a bright, contrasty, colorful photograph. The sky looks like fire.

On a hunch I made a second version of this exposure: Dramatic Sky Over The Wind Farm below. Instead of color I went monochrome. It completely changed the look and feel of the photograph. 
Dramatic Sky Over The Wind Farm - Tehachapi, California
It's a darker, more brooding image. The sky is more dramatic, but far less breathtaking. Since color has been removed, you obviously don't even notice that it's a "golden hour" photograph.

The two images, made from the same exposure, are in many ways opposites. The top photograph is lovely and happy and brings to mind new beginnings. It has lava colors, and they eyes are easily drawn to the sky. The bottom photograph is scary and depressing and brings to mind apprehensions. The eyes are more drawn to the wind turbines. The top image is positive, the bottom image is negative.

One exposure post-processed different ways creates two completely different messages. They nonverbally say different things. They portray contrasting feelings.

You have the ability to make your photographs speak to the viewer however you want them to. You have to consider what you want them to say, what feelings you want them to give, and then make choices that allow the images to speak that. Those choices begin before the photograph is exposed and continue right on through post-processing.

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