I earned a day off of work today, so I decided to reconnect with my love of photography and photo processing. I spent the morning browsing through unprocessed images from a trip I took to South Africa last November. One of them caught my eye as having potential to be a nice image. But as with most RAW images, it's kind of hard to really see the whole potential of an image until the post processing begins.
The image below shows the evolution of the post processing. On the left is the RAW capture. The middle image is what I first envisioned. The image on the right is what evolved as I will discuss below.
I decided I wanted to make this image a simple, colorful landscape. But when I was finished, I had the image in the middle and was pretty unsatisfied with the result. I mean, who needs another colorful landscape shot. How predictable and uninteresting. It doesn't have a mood, it doesn't feel like art. It feels like a nice vacation snapshot.
My thought process then turned to what I disliked most about the image...the predictable color. It's just too pretty. I liked the tonal range of the image and the composition, but the color was just too much. Plus it was just to crisp and clean. I decided it would be more interesting if it had the appearance of being an old photograph. More importantly, I wanted it to look like an old photograph from a cheap camera. This means manipulating the color to appear faded, and the sharpness to appear made from a cheap lens. Finally, I found it irresistible to add some other elements of aging. What I ended up with is something I feel is a complete blending of art and photography. This is really where I want to be with my work.
It wasn't immediately apparent to me as I began processing this image what I would end up with. Experimentation yielded something I am very happy with. Let me not forget, that most of my favorite images came from fairly uninspiring RAW files like this one. It just takes a little vision and a little time, and most of all, a disgust for the predictable.