What You See and What You Get

Instagram version (brighter, deeper colours and greater contrast between shadows and light) of Frilly, dark purple tulips with long, curvy stems against a green fence, with yellow flowers in the background and a mixture of shadows and light.

I have a couple of film SLR cameras that I’ve used for years and love dearly. I don’t shoot film very often these days, but I feel more comfortable using them than I do my not-too-shabby, slightly-better-than-a-point-and-shoot digital camera. (I know that it’s a commonplace that the best camera is the one you have with you, but there’s something to be said for lenses that can be adjusted by hand.)

I’m trying to improve my digital photography, both on my iPhone and on my camera. To that end, I’ve started following The Daily Shoot on Twitter and am using their assignments to challenge me to improve my iPhone photography. So far, I’ve done two and have used Instagram filters on the images. I also have Hipstamatic on my phone and am interested in trying those filters, too. I hope that some images will be compelling enough to stand on their own, as well. The photo at the top of the post is the Instagram version. Here’s the original:

Frilly, dark purple tulips with long, curvy stems against a green fence, with yellow flowers in the background and a mixture of shadows and light.

I like this version, too, but I’m enjoying the effects that the Instagram program brings. I often don’t manipulate my photos very much, mostly just to compensate for those times when I rely on my in camera flash. I’m curious to know which of these images you like better. I also would like to know how you feel about photo editing in general – do you see it as a further expression of your creativity, a necessary evil, a cheat? If you use any photo editing programs, what are your favourites?

Next week, I’ll tell you about a day-long photo workshop I’m attending, in hopes of upping my game with my camera.


9 thoughts on “What You See and What You Get

  1. I definitely like the first one better. The contrast of the darkness of the flowers and the lightness of the fence is what draws me in. That’s not as obvious in the second one.

    1. Thanks, Jen – I like that one best, too. It also has an aged quality, which makes it feel more intriguing to me.

  2. I like the filtered version best, both for the colours/contrast, and for the square cropping. It’s cool what you can do with that and with Hipstamatic.

    For me, photo editing is definitely part of the creative process. I miss doing film photography and messing about in the darkroom for hours to come up with finished images; digitally editing images goes a long way towards satisfying that urge to use the darkroom. As for what programmes to use, I tried GIMP a few years ago, but I found it too unwieldy for my purposes (i.e. file sizes were enormous, and making edits took way too long). More recently, I tested out my brother’s Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software, and thought it was very handy; when I can afford it, I may get that. Meanwhile, I just use iPhoto which is very limited, but does allow basic adjustments to tone, saturation, etc., and of course allows for cropping and resizing for different purposes.

    It’s exciting you’re planning to explore photography more. So much fun, isn’t it?

    1. I have pretty basic photo editing software on my computer, too – it’s my iPhone that has the exciting bells and whistles.

      It’s nice to get back to experimenting with it, though I definitely don’t think I qualify as good!

  3. The photo editing process of a camera app helps give oomph to the first photograph. I like it, although I also like the original one.

    As for what I use for photo editing, I use PhotoShop. I use the program to tweak the levels and the contrast if required. I’m also a firm believer in using the crop feature. I don’t always crop my photos, but cropping is a way to make an image tighter and to remove those extra bits that detract from the overall image.

    There’s a balance when it comes to editing. Unless the effect you’re after is surreal, you want to help keep your viewer in the realm of real. Touching up an image too much can change the viewers grasp on the realism of the image. I want people to know what I captured “out there” is real, because it is.

    To edit or not to edit? I remember reading a post from a professional photographer about how digital photography almost demands post-processing. That the technology, as great as it is, doesn’t have the depth that film gives us and that editing a digital photo helps make the image less flat. I think we take what we need/want from that statement. But more importantly, know that the majority of people working with digital images “tweak” their photographs. There’s no shame in it. I think you’d be surprised just how many digital images you see have been touched up. Up until a few months ago, I used to give myself a hard time when I’d tweak the levels of a photo – and then I realized it’s part of the digital process.

    1. Thanks, Cheryl – you state it very well. I think for a lot of us, who never did our own darkroom work, the idea of playing with the image was unfamiliar to us. Someone pointed out to me recently that the darkroom allowed for a lot of experimentation, in the same way that we can use photo editing software.

  4. What great shots, Teresa! John and I still have our SLR cameras and we enjoy shooting with film still. I hope to get a DSLR some day, but I am content with my iPhone camera and my little point and shoot for now. I have not tried Instagram yet, but I do have Hipstamatic on my phone and have enjoyed playing around with the filters. Thanks for mentioning The Daily Shoot – I am going to follow them and learn more as well. I actually like both of these photos, but for different reasons. I do use Photoshop, but usually just to reduce the size of the photo and the file size. If I need a lighting adjustment I will make a minor change, but I don’t fool around with it that much. I really don’t care for photos that have been overly edited and doctored up so much they don’t look authentic and real any longer. Some people go overboard with the highlight and shadow features.

    1. Thanks, Elaine! I’m glad you’re going to follow the Daily Shoot – maybe we can compare notes some time.

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