Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Editing Choices - Courageous Together

Courageous Together - Tejon Ranch
Yesterday I posted wildflowers blooms on Tejon Ranch in California. I concluded that post with the photograph above, Courageous Together. I post-processed that photograph to look like it had been captured using Kodak Ektachrome 100SW, a film that I used regularly back when I shot 35mm slide film.

My wife suggested that I should take the picture. She saw the kids walking ahead and saw that it could make a good photograph. I was paying attention to something else altogether and would have missed this otherwise. I had to quickly formulate a vision in my mind and snap the image in less than a minute.

My original idea was a grainy, contrasty black-and-white photograph. I saw the image as being ominous. Uneasy. Uncertain. I wanted the viewer to wonder what dangers were ahead. Were the kids going to be alright? Should they really go down this path? They seem so small against this big landscape and the sky is threatening.

The feeling that I wanted to capture would be best expressed in monochrome. Specifically, Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed one stop was the look that I wanted.
Courageous Together Monochrome - Tejon Ranch, California
But that ominous black-and-white image didn't match the rest of the set. It's message was opposite that of the other photographs. It didn't make sense to be included in that group. My vision needed to be rethought if I was going to include the photograph with the other images captured in that same place.

The easy answer would be to simply not include the photograph in the set. I could display it separately. But it belongs in the set. So I made two versions, a color version and a monochrome.

The two versions feel so much different from each other. The message is different. The color version feels far less scary, less uncertain. It seems to offer a little more hope that everything's alright.

There are two lessons here. First, you have to not just know what you want the image to look like, but  you must also consider how that photograph will be displayed and the other images that it will be paired with. Second, editing choices have a big impact on how the photograph will feel and what message it will convey. Carefully consider what you want the photograph to nonverbally speak, and then post-process it in such a way that it says what you want it to.

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