Keeping Integrity in My Photographs

In November, I shared how I came into the photography field and a little about how I capture my images.

If you missed it, you can read about it on this blog post.
Today, I want to share about the integrity I like to keep in my photographs. 
Occasionally, I will hear the term “photoshopped” thrown around by those passing my booth at an art show, or in questions by those who’ve stopped in. There is an increasing distrust of what viewers see in photography these days.
I’ve honestly come to loath hearing about Adobe’s star editing program, Photoshop. It’s become a rather lose term used to describe how one plans to fix a badly taken photo, or how to manipulate a photo into something else. 
I want to share with you, not only for my own defense but also for your peace of mind, that what you see in my photography is barely touched by Photoshop. That being said, there’s a difference between manipulation of a photograph and creativity.
Horses & Snow, 12/2016
I recently read an article in Outdoor Photographer about Lightroom. I really liked how the author stated the following:
  • “…getting digitally creative comes with a bit of baggage these days. Photoshop is no longer just software beloved by photographers. Photoshop is a term that invokes a genre of photography that’s inauthentic, that’s been manipulated, and refers to images that have been fundamentally altered. A lot of us get asked when showing our work: “Did you Photoshop that?” “
  • “…..developing RAW files is a very different thing than “Photoshopping” an image, and there is a difference between creative expression and deception.”
This brings up two things I want to address in this post:
  • RAW files 
  • Lightroom
Most DSLR cameras (a camera that one can interchange lenses) have the ability to capture the digital files on the memory card in either RAW or JPEG.
“RAW file equals big data (picture me holding my hands far apart), and JPEG equals smaller data (now picture me holding my hands closer together). RAW files contain more information, which translates into more color info, more detail, more dynamic range and more latitude when developing files.”

I shoot most of my photography in RAW. Occasionally I have shot in JPEG (such as VBS at church for the slide show at the end of the day) but never, ever my landscape work. RAW files allow for more control over the final image. In this case, control is a very good thing. An artist should take control over their work.

JPEG works great if one doesn’t want to bother with editing. Many sports photographers shoot in JPEG so they can shoot fast and a lot of images. JPEGs take up much smaller data than RAW. On my memory card I can shoot around 350-400 photos in RAW, with JPEG I can shoot over 1.5k.

Relaxed, 7/2016
RAW files are not actually a file until they are developed, similar to the film days. A negative wasn’t a print until it became a positive image on paper.

So how does one develop those RAW files?
In order to use the full capacity that RAW files give, the best program I use to bring those files to life is Adobe’s Lightroom. It is like the darkroom of old but with a whole lot less equipment, time and money. 

As I shared back in November, there is so much more to the art of photography than just picking up a camera and taking a picture. The other half is developing. 

Knowing the equipment well will help one take great photographs. Knowing how to develop those photographs will complete the art, drawing viewers into it. Knowing how to cook and create delicious food makes a chef. The presentation of that food will aid in the desire of others to eat it. 

I don’t want to bore you with too much technical discussion but leave you with a few things to note.

Photographers of the past who relied on the dark room would keep safely guarded notes of how they developed certain photographs, so they could reprint them the same way.
Some questions asked in the darkroom are:

  • Would it be better to expose the photograph for a few more seconds longer?
  • Will the contrast come out better if it’s exposed less?
  • Should I dodge certain areas so that they turn out lighter and bring more attention to it, or should I burn and create darker areas? *
I do some of these very same things, but instead of standing in a darkroom for hours, I sit in front of my computer (sometimes for hours).
I want you to be confident that when you purchase or admire photographs of mine, it is a true representation of the landscape. As I said earlier, I do not use Photoshop to manipulate and change my images. I do use Lightroom, and some Photoshop, to create my own piece of art, and finalize the image for printing.
My desire is to go about my work as a photographer with integrity.
I want you to see how I see.
Wind Carved Snow, 12/2015

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