When I shoot a subject, it is obviously because, with my eyes open, “I see something in it”. Then I look at the subject again through either the viewfinder or the LCD. And there a first culling happens, when this second look is disppointing, and a dead end.
Then, if I am still hopeful, I shoot it.
Second culling when I look at the results in the VF. Some subjects that just looked good before I shot them don’t any more in picture form.
The third culling takes place in front of my computer. Whatever happened to the shot that survived the first 2 culllings and looked good on the LCD? In somes cases, they are just not that good (I am not talking about technical flaws, likes missed focus, but aesthetic ones).
I am sure many of you go through a similar process, but this is not what I writing about at this time, it is the opposite.
Sometimes, not that rarely actually, I open a picture on my screen and, -Wow!- unexpected beauty unfolds! Sometimes it is straight out of the camera, and sometimes after processing. I don’t mean by that that they are “better than others”, but rather that they are a surprise, a positive, even very positive surprise. Which puts my process in question : Am I really in control of what I am doing?
This leads to a strange feeling, that of having captured a beauty that I didn’t even “know” -consciously that is- was there. So, if I didn’t know it was there, whom should credit go to? Chance, luck, whatever you care to call it? My subconscious? Pascal, after his having made me into his zombie-slave? A higher being? (no wait, the last two are the same, right?).
Many instances of such beauty “appearing out of, if not nowhere, at least the unexpected and unintended” come from PP.
The most obvious way in which this happens is cropping. Especially with high-resolution and high quality sensors, a deep crop, between 50% and 100% will show what was until then drowned in the overall picture. And some of it can be both beautiful and unexpected.
The second way is vignetting. I can already get rid of quite a bit of background with liberal use of bokeh. Vignetting gives me the ability to black out the rest. This focuses the picture in a way which changes from the “full-image” look, and creates a mystery as to what is actually taking place in all that dark space…
The third way is orientation. Sometimes you take a shot one way, because that is how your camera lets you best do it, but you want to look at it another way, and then the overall look changes.
Then you can use image-modification techniques. High-key, selective treatment, colour changes. Sometimes, it is the bokeh that “makes” the picture in a way I didn’t expect. Sometimes the effect of a longer exposure, very different from the way in which the eye “sees”. Sometimes the switch to black-and-white.
And sometimes it is simply the little “something” that happened just as my finger pressed the trigger, like the cloud over the Taj Mahal…
I could go on and on, but I won’t (whew!). My purpose, in concluding, is twofold. First, does this happen to you too? Do you find unexpected treasure? And, even more improtant, how do you (and I) fully mine what shots we have to reveal all that hidden beauty that we don’t even know is there?
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