I was surfing on 500px.com tonight and came across a photographer who’s images left me green with envy. Mike Moats walks that balance between photographic integrity and artistic expression that can be so hard to achieve. And his subject matter – nature – is one that is dearest to my heart.
As I embark on more and more deliberate post-processing I find myself moving between timidity and over-enthusiasm. I suspect this is the usual starting point for a lot of photographers. I’m not of the more-is-better camp, but I also don’t consider myself a photo-purist.
I don’t want impact to overshoot pleasing aesthetics, nor do I want my images to lose their photographic identity. Not only do Mike’s photographs have stunning impact but I still feel I am looking at a photograph. That’s the effect I’m going for as well.
In the early stages of photography I think most of us view post-processing as a way to salvage our less than satisfactory images. We struggle with exposure, focus, composition, and depth-of-field, and get tempted to turn to post-processing to fill in the gaps left by lack of experience and technical know-how. As we improve we learn that post-processing can rarely save a photo that wasn’t sound to begin with. That’s when it becomes a tool for creative expression and not a desperate act of compromise.
To complicate things I tend to struggle with the aspect of misrepresentation. When I change a photo am I sacrificing the integrity of the image I shot? Am I lying about the colour of that rose, or how bold that sky was at sunset for my own selfish means?
Ah well, I don’t think that’s a question for a blog entry to solve; it’s more in the category of a wonderful on-going philosophical debate. And I was taught a long time ago that the joy of philosophical debate is that you don’t always have to pick a side. Gray is neither white nor black. The world is not so tidy.
Mike Moats’ blog details his post-processing work (something I haven’t stumbled on very often). I came away feeling more secure about my own instincts with post-processing. It’s given me courage to keep working at it.
I feel I’m on the right track, and that I may not always make the right decisions but as I journey along I’ll make fewer wrong ones. At least, I trust I will.
Check out Mike’s work. It’s a feast for the eyes.