There is no bigger argument that I have walked myself into then the debate over use or over use of Photoshop. I've had interesting post to my images on various photo sites, downing my use of HDR, Tonal, or over filtering. My work is torn apart and debated. I've even had photographers contact me and ask that I release the image before I work on it. (That's never going to happen).
So, let's break this down. First off, I'm not the only photographer to use or over use Photoshop. There are many. Second I am not the only artist in anyway to feel the bias over the use of any HDR, or any kind of filtering. There are others that have the same confrontations. Let's be honest, there is a line between Photographers and Photographic Artist. I know a handful of photographers who tell me that beyond limited cropping, adjusting contrast or saturation, that nothing more should be done. That's it and anything beyond it is considered too much. I get that. Problem is, to me, it's boring. While I am a self proclaimed, lover of all forms and levels of photography, I will also admit that some work bores the hell out of me. I was drawn to HDR, Tonal adjust, and any form of filtering, for its effects of drawing the image out of the photo. I love the depth, the extreme tones and contorted color. I want the image to look like a drawing, a painting, animation to reality. Third, It's all intentional. yet, many I find are ignorant of what they are actually seeing. There is an effect when using Tonal where skin of a model will look "burned". Dark sooty look to the skin. Happens in the shadows. I know it and I watch for it when I work. The image to the right was accused of having it. Here is where ignorance comes to play. You might first inquire, what lighting was being used? See all of the image before you speak. Know what you are talking about. The image to the right was shot with huge hot lights. (This is one of my studio preferences, flash doesn't always create the results I want. Hot lights can create heavy shadows. (Again this is what I am aiming for, the heavy shadows are wanted). So when you roll and tweak an image through filters, and so I can keep my secrets intact, i won't share what I use or the steps I use. The shadows will begin to pop and come out. The take on a defined line. Intense and shown. No tonal burn. No flesh discoloration. No stain. The image you see, and I will admit toned and contorted, shows no sign of burn. It's merely the shadows from the lights popping out. Yet I get this self proclaimed expert in anything photography who contacts me and pleads a case of over use. Why? Why is it that you try and convince everyone that an image needs to look how you want it to look? So any photo anywhere on the Internet or in any book or magazine should look how you the expert wishes it to look and anything outside of that is an abomination? The mind boggles.
HDR is here to stay. There are a zillion and one apps that promote it and do more then my simple uses of photoshop can even mean to do. Many photographers who you might not think use HDR, Tonal or over filtering are in fact using it. Lightroom, Photoshop, Corel, they all come out with more and more add on's and plug ins every year to help promote it. Yet many speak before they even know how it works and what is what. The image to the right has 7 layers to it, which is low by many standards. I compare the debate over HDR, to the arguments and debate over using particular chemicals during my days in the darkroom. You would have so called pros, tell beginners or artist what they were doing wrong with an image, hide their chemical use or formulas for processing, yet devalue anothers print. But they never asked the beginner or artist if this was the result they were going for. Never asked, just devalued.
As I said, HDR is here to stay. I have never in my career contacted a photographer and told them, your image looks bad because......I've done this since I was in my teens, and now I'm 53 and I still don't try and push my agenda. I love all forms of photography and I know friends who feel the same. Debate or no debate, it's an accepted art. I have no earth shattering ending here. No huge words to end this point of view, other to say that maybe if you don't like an image or how the artist rendered it, is not to your liking, maybe it's better if you say nothing, because maybe you don't know as much as you think you do. End of story.
To skip past giving debate any credence, in the next issue of SESSIONS, we will explore what lighting is used by other photographers. It should be interesting.