Artistic Choices in Digital Photography

April 01, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

One of the terrific things about digital photography in the computer age is the virtually infinite artistic choices made possible by photo editing software.  Old school photogs and other purists may cringe or openly decry digital manipulation and/or enhancement of photos in favor of pure straight-out-of-the-camera images, but I say there’s room for everyone and every technique at the artistic party!  The more the merrier!

I will be the first to agree that no amount of post processing can make a fundamentally flawed image good.  I have learned this the hard way.   Yes, I admit it.  I have spent hours at the computer trying to make a bad image into a good image, and it is a waste of time.  It is absolutely necessary to learn and practice the basics of good photography first.  Only when you get it right in the camera first can you get the best results and have the most fun turning your fundamentally sound images into whatever artistic expressions you desire.

In the collage above, the subject is one of my favorites, succulent plants.  This is an echeveria variety called “Sunburst”.  The photo in the upper left quadrant is the original, with only basic processing in Camera Raw and Photoshop Creative Cloud.  It shows the plant in its naturally beautiful state … a soft cool gray-green, slightly dusty looking rosette of foliage, which may have slightly pink leaf tips. 

The other images in the collage show three different artistic enhancements to the original photo.  The image in the upper right quadrant is all about texture.  The addition of a generous amount of texture has transformed the original realistic representation to one which is clearly still a photo, but which brings to mind a painting or drawing.

In the lower left quadrant , the image has been given a fanciful look by enhancing color and light.  First, the subtle blues and pinks were punched up for a bit of whimsy.  Second, luminance adjustments have given the plant a subtle glow, for a somewhat ethereal look.

Finally, the lower right quadrant is a monochrome interpretation, in which the image has been converted to shades of soft taupe.  In addition, software was used to subtly enhance the edges of the leaves.  These two modifications make the image all about the shape, or architecture, of the plant.

Each of these interpretations emphasizes a different aspect of the plant.  One says "Look at the texture … wouldn’t you love to draw or paint it?"  One says "Look at the beautiful colors … don’t you find it enchanting?"  And one says "Look at the shape … isn’t nature a gifted architect?"

And isn’t that the purpose of artistic expression … to share with others what fascinates us about our world?  How do you share your world through your lens?  Leave me a message and tell me about your artistic choices … I’d love to hear about it!

As always, I wish you happy shooting and a satisfying photographic journey!

 


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