Cool series- need some advice

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by srf4real, Jan 6, 2008.

  1. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #1
    Hi y'all. I spent yesterday shooting at Sebastian Inlet... it was raining off and on, mostly cloudy. Spent all morning under an umbrella. Got some really nice photos but of course lighting was truly a challenge. Now I'm developing the raw files, but not sure just how much if any I should tweak exposures, color, etc.... I could bring these pics to the point where it looks like the sun is shining and bright if i wanted to since they are raw files with plenty of 'wiggle room' but then that doesn't express the mood and actual conditions of the event. What do you guys/gals do in a situation like this? Would you just attempt to make the images as dynamic and colorful as a 'casual observer' would expect, discarding the images' original integrity as a journalistic piece, or would you do what I have done here which is to try to portray to your audience the view that was available, even if conditions caused the view to be a tad dynamically dull?
    If it depends on what intentions of use you have for the images, I would appreciate your comment on that as well...

    Thanks for looking!:)

    Rob
    "setting up" series
    [click for larger image]
    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
  2. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #2
    I honestly don't think you CAN "bring these pics to the point where it looks like the sun is shining". You can boost colour, saturation, contrast, etc, but the special qualities of light on (and 'through') water cannot, IMO, be recreated in post-production.

    My 'method' is generally to shoot plenty when the light is interesting, and no pix at all when it isn't... but I can return to a landscape at a better time, whereas you are trying to do the best you can on the day of a particular event.

    You seem to shoot heavily... so I imagine you must be selling some of the images(?). If so, then you will naturally want to make the pictures look dynamic rather than dull... while appreciating that these shots aren't going to win any prizes.

    If the pix are just for you, then I'd be tempted to keep just a few of the shots to remind you of the occasion. Personally, I don't see the point in trying to 'salvage' pix with too much 'tweaking'. But, hey, we all have our own ideas about quality threshholds, journalistic integrity, etc... :)
     
  3. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #3
    While I can appreciate or respect Doylem's attitude towards only shooting when conditions are most optimal or when the light is just right, I'd have to question what the standard of correct actually is. If I misread the post then I do apologize, but there seems to be a "take this series as a write-off" tone when in fact I do not believe this series is a total loss or any where near a loss.

    srf4real, you've taken countless surfer shots and for whatever reason. Whether these are personal shots or shots that intend to sell I wouldn't really say it mattered. In this instance, this type of photography if you only shot on days when the light was right (again questiong what the standard is) then you would miss over 50% of the surf competitions alone. Beach weather doesn't usually mimic inland weather. I don't think I'm telling you anything that is new to you or that you couldn't qualify. I will say this though, as far as the series goes, I would print as is. It was a colder day and while you can up the temp of the images ever so slightly without screwing your colors, why would you? I point you to a website that you are undoubtedly familiar with Surfer Magazine. You will find photos taken when the light was amazing and some that were taken when the light wasn't so amazing.

    When you take photos of surfers those surfers won't always surf in optimal lighting conditions. They drag their boards out based on the conditions of the currents. I grew up reading the mag, I spent the better part of my teenage years on a board, and I can honestly say even I never said I was waiting for the right light. Having grown up in So. Cal I also spent enough time down in San Clemente and HB where you will find the latest and greatest being photographed by Surfer Mag photographers. Since they're following one person in particular they were shooting when it was overcast, gloomy, and sometimes a bit wet. The point of that is if you are taking shots to submit to say Surfer Mag and you were trying to get noticed a nice mix of shots is great but certainly try to get a few good days of sun in there too. Any qualified photographer who makes their living off of photographing surfers will appreciate the "coolness" of the images you've posted.

    As a complete amateur I appreciate them because I see you've preserved the skin tones, your whites could use a slight boost, but overall you captured the series, the setup, the ride through, and the fall off.

    That is my long-winded way of saying that you shouldn't touch them. ;)
     
  4. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #4
    I was just contrasting the difference between photographing a one-off event... and other places or events to which you can go back again and again. For example, I have plenty of 'so-so' pix that I keep because they're all I've got of a particular place. If I can get better pix, then it's 'goodbye' to the others...

    The 'right' light, for me, is light that reveals as much about a subject as possible... so it's different qualities of light for different subjects.

    It's up to each individual photographer to establish some notions of quality control (keep this shot... throw that one away), and I certainly wouldn't try to tell anyone where that threshhold should be. I go through my digital files, as I used to do with transparencies, weeding out those that don't quite 'work'. Keeping pix for which I have no realistic use is, for me, a waste of storage space.

    All of which is another long-winded way of sayng "It's entirely up to you"... :)
     
  5. srf4real thread starter macrumors 68030

    srf4real

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #5
    I really appreciate both of your views, as you understand it is also a struggle for me to decide. The wave is gnarly, the surfer is styling, timing is sweet, but the light just wasn't so great... you should see some of the shots i took while it was raining a bit heavier! Now there are some pics that won't work at all. Too bad, because these are the conditions us surfers say prayers for at night. Like Jessica says, I never don't paddle out because of the rain, or the dark for that matter. Been known to surf through a few hurricanes.:rolleyes: If nothing else, this Volcom surfer in the pic might appreciate a glimpse back at how the inlet was sucking up that morning and how he was doing it right! I am a novice amateur at photography and I put in a lot of time to sharpen my skills and experience, as I do plan to make a little money with it eventually. Shooting the pros is easy compared to trying to capture inexperienced groms looking like they are surfing well, which is where I market my photos. Shooting for a mag doesn't really appeal to me, I have too many artistic and independent tendencies to be stuck with an 'assignment'. I like to put down the camera and go surfing with 'em!

    The rain let up a little in the afternoon and I got more fantastic pics, but I hate to think the images like the ones above are useless. One nice thing about the rain, tho... was this rainbow.:D

    [​IMG]
    thank you for your replies!
     
  6. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #6
    I think ultimately, you have to decide if you're "recording what you see" or "shooting to match your vision." While there are those who'll box themselves in as "purists" the fact is that the camera doesn't record what you see, and you're manipulating an image from raw to get it to a visual medium. Some folks try to "stick with manipulations that could be done in a darkroom" but most of those folks really don't know the range of manipulation that could be done in a darkroom.

    Ask yourself if you want to be known for "great photographs" or "great images." That's the base argument. Folks like Ansel Adams tried to get the best image they could from a negative- often spending days in the darkroom to get a satisfactory print.

    There's lots of room for interpretation in the images you posted- it's up to you to decide if you're up to interpreting them. There really is no wrong answer and no right answer- the only thing is that you should try to distinguish taken photographs from finished images in some way that doesn't mislead someone to think they're "as shot" if you do decide to process them heavily.
     
  7. srf4real thread starter macrumors 68030

    srf4real

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #7
    Yes, I agree with all of you. It's just a relief to know that I am not alone in my conflict... must choose whether the goal is historical integrity or artistic interpretation. I probably have fallen into the 'purist' category up to this point, not due to righteousness but due to poor processing knowledge. But as you mention, compuwar, the camera does not record exactly what I see with the naked eye anyways. I have been spending more and more time in the digital darkroom these days...

    Honestly I expected every photographer to yell at me for considering a little touch up which may 'lead the viewer to believe' that the translated images are actual conditions. The more I look at the the series I requested advice about, the more I believe that these shots are best left alone, as part of the feeling of the experience has been left intact; it was a cold, rainy, barrel!!!:D
     
  8. zdobson macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Location:
    Indiana
    #8
    Well, I'm a photojournalist, so I bet you can guess where I stand on this topic. I do think you could make a small levels adjustment and add a little contrast, though.
     

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