Water in Motion

As I said in my earlier post Second Love Like First Love long forgotten love of waterfalls is coming back to me. Here are some results of it: new folio Water in Motion on my website containing old and recent images of waterfalls and tumbling creeks.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls

Quality vs. Quantity

Why are we chasing after making more and more photographs?

A famous Russian artist – Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov – spent 20 years on one painting which turned to be his whole artistic life. The painting is absolutely breathtaking.

We, photographers, on the other hand seem to want to produce more photographs per minute than ever. I’m not sure if industry is encouraging us or industry just meets our demand by producing faster shot per second cameras, faster cards, software to go thru photo-editing faster.

Do we produce something great or just visual noise? Is it time to slow down and think about what we trying to get to by doing this? I used to be inspired by single photographs of the past and I still am. Nowadays I’m subscribed to all kinds of digital photography feeds but for the most part all I get is one stream of noise. It seems that photography has become more about inventing something new rather than about creating something beautiful. Now single photograph is not enough, today it is all about folios. Is a folio just a way to unload more photographs into the market?

I wonder what would be an equivalent of spending twenty years on a single painting in photography? How would one work on one photograph their whole life? And what that photograph would be? Maybe a folio is an equivalent of that painting? And it is all about polishing that set of photographs: substituting some of them with other, reshooting some of them, redoing post-processing, etc. That seems to make sense, just don’t make me look at a folio of a thousand photographs.

Workflow

This is a series of posts with translation of my interview published in Russian at http://landscapists.info/vitaly-prokopenko. The question from the interview: “Could you describe in a few words how you do post-processing of your photographs? What software do you use, what workflow?”

I use Adobe Photoshop for editing and post-processing of photographs. I start with reviewing photographs in Bridge in slideshow mode. I stop slideshow on photographs that catch my attention, open them in Photoshop, touch up slightly (to bring them all to some common denominator) and save them off to a different folder. After that I continue with the slideshow. At the end I may have 10 images selected out of 500 taken.

Then I start rating selected photographs. Rating 5 is given to photographs that I think is some of my best work (not just on that particular trip but in general). Rating 4 is for good photographs, 3 – good quality but static, boring, does not move me. 2 – not good, 1 – can be deleted. (Jumping a bit ahead – in the end I show to others only photos which I rated 4 or 5 stars.)

Then I do accurate post-processing of the photographs with 4 and 5 star rating (and some with 3 stars). This can take a few days. I try not to rush thru this process.

Next step: leave photographs a side for a while – a month or two – to let immediate feelings about the trip to wear off. I always want to show them immediately but every time I do so I regret about it later.

Here is why I regret showing photographs immediately. After a while i go back and look at photographs with a fresh perspective and many of them look differently to me. Rating of some of them may change. Some need more detailed processing. I realize that some might look better in black-and-while others may look better in color. Some might benefit from a slightly different angle and I go back to originals and see if I took that photograph from that different angle.

Only after going thru this strict editing process I, finally, start showing photographs to friends, observe their reaction and listen to their comments. I rarely re-adjust photographs at this point, I do changes a rating though. For example, if I see that a particular photograph does not evoke any emotion, people just pass thru it, I might lower its rating even if I love it.

The last step I started doing only recently. In a set of photographs I look for a common theme. It might be a place where they are taken, common subject, color palette, or something else. When I have enough photographs around common theme, they become a basis for a folio. The idea is to tell a story with a series of photographs.

I do the final pass of adjustments in photographs selected for a folio, to make sure they have saturation, contrast, etc that make them look better together. I add titles, description. And then publish them on my website.