Sunset Couple – What Is Real

Helaine walked in the room as I was playing with this photo. “That’s not how it looked,” she said.

We then proceeded to discuss the photo, taken atop East Rock just past sunset.

Is it the photographers goal to capture exactly what happened, or do we get a pass to embellish and present an interpretation? In other words, is a photographer allowed the same latitude a painter gets?

In this case I’ve lightened the photo beyond what was present, while deepening the blue of the sky to enhance the contrast with the clouds. They were pink in real life, but only barely. The color is brought out with the contrast.

I’m not sure we’ll ever agree on this.

The “as shot” photo is first, followed by the new, improved model.

5 thoughts on “Sunset Couple – What Is Real”

  1. I think the “what is real” argument is a trade-off, since the camera doesn’t see what the eyes do. Maybe you should teach Helaine how to use photoshop, and let her interpret the image to what she thinks is the “real” image – the results could be interesting, especially in contrast to yours.

  2. While the enhanced photo looks “prettier”, the question is – what do YOU prefer? As a photographer, you are an artist. Some artists prefer to represent life as it is, some prefer to take a little artistic license and expand on the basic idea as it suits their style and taste.

  3. I *always* want to see “what really was”—not what the photographer wishes there had been. Can photography transcend reality? Of course, but that can still be accomplished without altering it. Not with every single click, but it does occasionally happen.

  4. The photographer always has made the choices that change the image. (Photoshop and the like have just made it easier and more powerful.)

    In the very choice of balancing aperture and f-stop, thus determining the amount of light versus detail, the photographer chooses the reality that the viewer will see.

    “Altering” the images is also nothing new, as the photographer, while developing the picture, chooses the techniques to use, the times to allow, etc. The images were burned and dodged to enhance detail in a spot where some light was perhaps too low.

    In real time, one’s eyes can adjust and decide to focus on the detail, or not. The photographer has license to enhance his image as he sees fit.

    That said, adding elements that were not there can be misleading, and change the image more towards an artistic piece.

    Geoff, your images are yours to do with as you please. I for one think the changes are welcome and appropriate.

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