For as long as I can remember, I have been taking images that form memories. Be those places that I have visited, scenes that inspired me and, more recently as an event photographer, moments in time that capture a personal memory. Throughout this time, I have shied away from post processing mainly because I believe that a post processed image loses the ability to hold the memory and usually the whole reason for the image in the first place.
However, I have recently had numerous conversations with people promoting the benefits and virtues of post processing and I decided to run a quick test using 500px.
www.500px.com is a photographic website where photographers can upload their images and like minded people can view, like and favourite any images that they like. The site provides a pulse which gives the photographer a nice report of how well their image fairs on the website. There is also the usual comments section, for those people inclined to leave some feedback for the image.
Whilst in Austria over Christmas, I look a photograph from our apartment window of a wonderful red and cyan sunrise over the mountains. The valley was full of dense fog and the whole scene was hazy – this made for an image which was not super clear but it captured my memory of that final morning of the holiday. The image below pretty much represents my recollection of the scene.
For me, this image captures my memory. It reminds me of the sub zero temperature flooding the room as the window was opened, the beautiful colours pushing through the fog and the battle to get a reasonable photograph through the haze and the dim light before the sun rose too far and the colours changed.
The above image was posted to 500px and it received 14 Views, 5 Likes and zero Faves. The all important Pulse rating rose to 35.9 and it has been around that figure ever since. No great surprise there because the image is a little dull coloured, but that was what I wanted- a record of my memory of the scene in front of me.
Anyway, the point of this exercise was to see what I could do with about five minutes in Lightroom.
I should point out that I had seen a photograph for sale locally which was similar to the scene in my image. However, in that image the sky was the main focal point with bright blues and pinks with the snow on the mountains reflecting the sunlight. The inspiration therefore, was to try to turn my image into something close – after all, the photograph for sale had a whopping price tag of £60.00, including the glass panel style frame.
Running up Lightroom, I located my image file and and simply made some Lens Correction adjustments for the camera. I decided to stay away from the may presets because I had a rough idea of what I wanted to achieve and none of those would get me anywhere close. I then went to work with the sliders in the Basic section, Noise Reduction and Sharpening sections. Nothing overly technical, I just wanted to experiment over the five minute time limit that I had set myself.
The image above was the final result and quite a change from the original.
The memory has now gone from this scene. It could now be any snow covered mountain range, anywhere in the world. It has no resemblance to the scene that I awoke to that morning and it is now nothing more than a piece of art to print and hang on someones wall.
So what about the 500px posting. Well, the views have settled down to 286 but I’m hoping that they tip the 300 mark. However, where things get really interesting are the Likes (41) and the Faves (15) which gave me a top Pulse rating of 93.5 at the time of writing.
Compare those statistics to the original image and the post processed image has blitzed the original. I guess that you can conclude that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. I prefer the original because of the memory that it holds. Without the memory, the more vibrant, impactful and more artistic version wins hands down.
All I can say is: Thank goodness tools like Lightroom and Photoshop make non destructive changes to RAW image files. From now on, I’ll be keeping an original copy of my landscape scenes for my personal memories and a post processed image for the online portfolios and commercial purposes.
Which image do you prefer – I’ll bet that it is the post processed image 😉