Where meaning & editing meet…

Personally, I tend to think about the meeting point between meaning & editing or, in simpler terms, vision & refining quite a bit, or at least I should. Out of all the things that frustrate me and cause me to go nuts, it’s this thing that drives me nuts every time because I never quite now if I’m going to be able to put up or shut up. And, to be honest, I’d rather put up than shut up, especially when it comes to getting it right when I match my vision to my refining in photography. Most of the time I don’t even come close and that’s what really gets me frustrated…Much more than it should.

- Q E Snow -
– Q E Snow –
- Q E Pond -
– Q E Pond –

These photographs have been festering for some time in my photography library for this year; they’re from at least a month ago and I haven’t touched the first one up for at least three & a half weeks and the one with the frozen pond is a recent edit, and a quick one at that, but that doesn’t mean I did it half way…I just used what I saw in the other edits I did on the photographs from that place and translated it onto this one. Personally, I hate photographs that have a strong blueish tint to the white balance because when I do get that, it looks hazy & weak to me; this makes winter photography a bit trickier than it should for me. I’ll be the first to admit that there’s some restrictions I place on myself I should be smashing down because all they do is frustrate me, and my preference for white balance should be one of them I should at least calm down so that it comes more in line with what I see in a scene.

How do I do that? I’m lost at times about how to do just that, but I’ll keep working at it, trying to get my brain to cooperate with my vision and then, just maybe then, I won’t get so darn frustrated when things don’t turn out. Like I’ve probably said so many times before, it’s a work in progress and something I should keep working at every time. So until I get it right, which I doubt it will ever happen, I’ll keep searching for where vision & refining meet.

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Colors…

We tend to think of color photography as anything other than pure black & white photography, but even black & white can seem as if it has its own color to it. How we view color influences how we see a scene in front of us, especially when the colors are those that we don’t like; personally, I can’t stand a brownish yellow, bright (flaming) pink, or yellowish green. I tend to stay away if a scene is overly dominated by these colors, mostly because of personal taste; what can I say, flaming pink isn’t my cup of tea!?

Personally, preferences play a large part in how we perceive color, but what about when we’re trying to say something? If we can’t say anything, should we give up, pack up, & go home? I’d rather look some more and see if I’m not missing anything, like I’m so prone to do. Often times, color is so present if what we’re seeing that we can miss what it really says to us, because we’re used to it. Color says something and it’s up to us to show & capture how it relates to us through our photographs; it affects how we see, what we see, and, most importantly, why we see what we do in a scene.

- Log & Leaf -
– Log & Leaf –

Take for example the above shot, one I’ve posted a few times before: if there had been a cooler cast to it, the warmth of the image would be completely gone. Even if there had been a small blue flower in part of it, the scene’s warmth & coziness would have been nearly gone, if not completely. I did warm the image up slightly in post-processing to match the feel of it, but it was true to what I saw, when I saw it. The colors in this image mattered quite a bit and it showed in the log more so than the leaves themselves, because, as I tinkered with it, the log showed warmth much better than the leaves due to the closeness of the log’s color to yellow/brown…or at least that’s what I’ve come to believe. So get out there and work with the colors around you!

When the light shines…

Looking out at the sunlight coming in on a bright day, we’ve got to think that being outdoors is great. Photography gets us outside and into the great world, if indeed we’re into landscape, nature, or any other kind of photography that primarily uses natural light. The funny thing about me saying this is that I’m inside, listening to Thrice (a band I highly recommend) playing from my iTunes library on my computer as I type this up; I’m only a few feet from the bright & sunny outdoors, but yet it still shines in through the open window. Even indoors, natural light has an effect, mostly because windows act like light boxes, letting the light inside, unless blackout or thick curtains/blinds are covering the windows.

- Fuzzy Tongues -
– Fuzzy Tongues –

Sometimes, we can get caught up in the how the light shines on a subject, getting caught up in the technicalities of it all, without really stopping to think about how it’s reflecting off of things in the scene. The color cast of the light reflecting off of surfaces affect the mood just as much…like in the above photograph which was taken in the middle of the day with a short tree above providing spotty shade; the yellow parts of the flower reflect yellowish light onto other parts of the flower, warming it up a bit. With slight Clarity adjustment, the reflected golden light becomes a bit stronger and more noticeable in the color cast. Editing was kept to a good medium and only that high because of a medium tone curve; usually I don’t use this option, choosing instead a higher Clarity adjustment, but in this case, I figured that a tone adjustment would be better.

The light shining off of something, on something, or through something is basically what photography is. We’re capturing light and, thanks to current technology, the color of it as well, so why not try to get the feel of it in the shot, showing how it made us feel at the time, instead of just being technically correct? Editing can, and often does, take a role in doing just that, but getting it right in camera is the first step to being more than just technically correct. I’m no where near perfect at this, just trying to get at least close to it, so just try to do your best and put some feeling & mood into it.

On tones…

Now for a simpler topic: tones of color. When looking at the different quality of light, we often see that there is a color cast on the subject that will vary with the light source; i.e. a warm cast for early morning or a blue for a gentle midday light. The beauty of this is that it can set the mood of the scene, especially if you have the right white balance set up, or change the mood with a different white balance set. Auto White Balance actually tries to remove the color cast, so using that for sunrises & sunsets especially won’t work as well, because it could potentially hurt the mood of the shot by changing the color cast. I’ve talked about this before, but I’d like to add the fact that white balance choice can significantly alter & influence the mood.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Boundary Bay Sunrise
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Little Whites

Take for example the first of the above photographs and it’s color cast & tone. Taken at sunrise, it has a warm glow, a nearly deep red tone to it and because of that, it adds a warming sense to the scene. Like the slightly warm color tone/temperature in the one below it, it makes use of the fact that a warmer glow produces a sense of warmness to it, but the shot below does so in a more subtle way. So which can be more effective? It all depends on what you’re photographing and why; if you’re going for warmth, we might want to stay away from too much of a blue cast because that usually presents a cooler mood and if we’re going for a more peaceful mood, then a blue cast is usually the right choice. Now if we’re going for power & stability, we’d want a large object with a dark blue color cast. This may sound like basic color theory, but for photography, it definitely helps.

All this is what mostly goes in to thinking about color in a photograph in terms of tone & color cast, or, as it’s been called, color temperature & white balance. Although this is far from being in-depth, it’s a start point and it kinda does help to know color theory along the way, especially with color cast in a scene.