Tuesday, February 7, 2017

To modify or not to modify, that is the question...

With the exception of cropping for size, I almost never modify photos from their original form.  I don't adjust brightness, sharpness, or color.  I don't believe in taking bad photos and "fixing" them later.  The photos that you see on this blog are, unless noted, exactly as they appeared on the camera.  Sometimes that means that something that I though would be cool when I photographed ends up being rather blah when seen on the computer screen.

Why do I take this approach with the photos you see here?

I do it because so many of the nature photographs that I see on the internet or in magazines have been modified far from their original state, often without any acknowledgment that they have been changed in any way.

Some people would argue that photographers have always modified their images.  That is true to some extent, but the photo processing tools available today mean that a mediocre photographer can turn into a "great" photographer with a few clicks of a mouse. 

Do I think I a great photographer?  Absolutely not! Jimmie Chin is a great photographer! Art Wolfe is a great photographer! Galen Rowell was a great photographer!

I just like to take good, honest photographs and am happy when I take a picture that people like.

Now that I am done with that diatribe (to use the little used, archaic meaning - a prolonged discourse), I want to share a picture that I did modify on the computer.

I took this photo of ice crystals on Saturday.  While loading them onto my computer I decided to open one picture in my photo editor and play around.  I didn't like any of the effects until I came to one called "Horror Movie" (or maybe it was "Scary Movie").  I really like the tone that it gave to the picture.

For comparison, here is the original picture without any modification.

I like this picture.  If I want to show the formation of ice crystals on a stream I would happily use this image.  I just like the "look" of the modified picture more.

What do you think?


  1. I know that most photos I see are "fixed"--and I suppose that's part of the creative process. I've never changed anything I've photographed because I don't have the software to do so. And most of my pics I'm happy with. BUT---I know what you mean about taking a shot and then seeing it later---and being disappointed. I'm sure software would give me that "light" or softness or whatever it was that I saw that didn't show up. I'll let others play with photos....and I'll just keep deleting my own. Sigh.

  2. I tend to take the same approach you do - photos I take of/in nature, I leave as they are. #nofilter as they say on instagram! For photos I take inside, I'm more apt to fuss with the exposure if it was taken in low light, but the ones in the garden I like it to be as I captured it.