Artistic statement or just post processing frenzy?

Started Apr 8, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP vkphoto Senior Member • Posts: 1,632
Re: Artistic statement or just post processing frenzy?

Al Valentino wrote:

vkphoto wrote:


I would like to ask my fellow forum members how far you would go with post processing and why?  What, in your opinion, makes PP “good taste” vs. “overcooked”? Is every image manipulation a ”fair game” as long as it helps you to express yourself? Can a photographer just say “this is how I see the world” and that’s it?

Let me illustrate what I mean (with some exaggeration)

Some time ago we had a party and our friends brought a lot of flowers, very nice flowers. Couple days ago they faded. Before my wife threw them away I took a picture with my almost standard set up and post processing for still life.

When I looked at the picture I realized that it is boring and doesn’t reflect my feelings. Why? Because combination of faded flowers, weathered wood and, in contrast, crisp crystal vase reminded me (for some reason) of how short this life is.  The word vanitas (ukiyo?) would describe it better. On the picture above everything normal, not even close to ukiyo.

So I processed the picture further to emphasize how "transient" our life is

I showed both pictures to my friends and they all agreed that the first one is "OK" and the second one is "sad". Well, I guess it worked.

But, as photographer, I still see the second picture as just another "overcooked" photo.....

Can you share your experience with post processed pictures and presenting them to the audience?



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First let me say, "eye of the beholder" and "artistic license" is how I see photography which is a way to paint with light. I have been an art lover for several decades and got into photography about 10 years ago. Photography has been my way of artistic expression since I know I can't paint or draw. I also find my preferred style changing every few years to play with something different that appeals to me. A few years ago I loved using Topaz Simplicity on landscapes since that allowed me to show the composition as an Impressionist painter would, and I love the Impressionists era - painting something that was not real yet gave the impression. You ask, "can a photographer say, "this is how I see the world"? Of course. Photography is an art, no question about since that is what this post really is about. Painters like Van Gogh painted images that took one into a dream world version of what is front of their faces with stars coming to light...

So back to my first comment, eye of the beholder. There is only one question worth asking when analyzing a picture, "Do you like it?"  Not have it obeyed the rules. Playing what one likes is how we develop a style or signature looks. Okay, enough talk, I like both and honestly would incline to something in between. I often do this in photoshop but going a bit too far on a layer and then dialing it back and/or selectively masking certain areas. A look I might personally tend to play with is something surreal. Something that is not a copy of reality yet is not quite a painting either. The goal is sort of to play with the viewer as that grey area is the place where the observer does not say 'that is a good job at photoshop' but instead say, 'that is an interesting picture'. That is why I mention something in between, keeping the colors and lighting congruent with the mood you are presenting. A theme or mood of death or finite life, should not be colorful nor bright. Some selective masking on a layer could show one flower holding out a bit longer than the other. Anyway, I'll shut up now


Thank you.

I extremely enjoyed the reading and re-reading of your post.

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