Warning – if you are one of those photographers that thinks photos should be made in the camera with no post processing, then this isn’t for you!
If you’ve followed me at all, you know that I really enjoy post processing my images. I love getting the camera out and making what I call my base shots. It doesn’t matter if it’s a landscape or airplanes at an air show. But to me that’s only part of the process. Getting the images into my computer and finding new ways to “enhance” them is part 2. If you like to post process your photos, it doesn’t really matter if you just tweak them a little bit or go hog wild. The important thing is that you enjoy it. Don’t get caught up in the debate about whether or not to edit, it’s entirely up to you! It also doesn’t matter if you use Photoshop or Picasa. Use whatever you have or are comfortable with!
There are a couple of things that I like to do to my images. One is to convert them to black and white, and the other is to give them a vintage treatment. How do I know when to apply black and white or vintage? I don’t know, at least not until I try it. There are some types of photos that have the potential to look better in black and white or vintage. For me, they tend to be older things such as WWII aircraft, or antique automobiles. Old buildings like those you might see at a ghost town also work well. Landscapes are a little harder to visualize. If a scene is very colorful, such as a forest in Autumn, it might not make sense to convert it to black and white. The best way to find out is pick one of you photos that you think might look good in black and white and convert it. If it doesn’t work, then all you have to do is cancel your changes and close the image. No harm – no foul. Pick another photo and try again, and pretty soon you’ll start to develop a sense of what is a good candidate for black and white. This may even carry over to when you are with your camera and looking at a scene. Try to visualize it, not only as you see it, but also in black and white. Keep trying, and if you do this enough, it should start to happen for you.
Here’s an example. This is a WWII Focke-Wulf FW-190 (a.k.a. the Butcher Bird). The original shot is from my Panasonic FZ1000, and was taken at the Planes of Fame Air Show earlier this year.
It’s not bad in color, and I did some post processing. But when I look at it, I get the sense that it could be better in black and white. Here’s what happened.
Not to bad, but it still seems like something is missing. My next thought was how it might look had it been taken with a film camera in the 1940’s. This is the result.
Most of the WWII (and earlier) photos that I’ve seen are faded, or just plain worn out. The paper they were printed on has texture, and there are a lot of imperfections. That’s what I love about them, all of the imperfections. Personally I think it gives these photos character, something that a lot of technically perfect photos from todays cameras lack. Just because a modern photo is tack sharp and has optimum bit depth and blah blah blah, doesn’t mean it has character, or in the case of a WWII era photo, a sense of history. I guess what I’m saying is that a lot of todays perfect photos have no soul, some of mine included. It’s something I’m working on with my post processing. Every once in a while I think I’m getting close.
How about you? Is there a type of photo that moves you or speaks to you in a way that others don’t? If so, get your camera and favorite editing software and get busy! Go over to my Facebook page and share some of your work – upatdawnphotograpy (just click the link).
That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!