Nature…

it’s already amazing!

lightning bolt across the sky

[inˈteɡrədē] integrity

The quality of being honest.

I had a moment this week when I saw an image posted by a respected, long-time photographer who had his start in the days of film, as did I. Now I have no issue with editing a digital photograph, particularly when you shoot it in RAW and the camera has not imposed it’s algorithm onto the image. SOOC (straight out of camera) is often waved as a badge of honor but those images, when shot in JPEG, have already been altered by the camera and the settings that you’ve pre-programmed. I used to be more judgmental about the digital editing process until I’d educated myself about it. Dunning-Kruger effect…google it for more information but essentially it breaks down into you don’t know what you don’t know until you learn more about the subject.

This image I saw was a nature one and was so edited that it hurt my eyes to look at it. As a test I took a similar image I’d taken and edited it in his style just to confirm my thoughts. It matched…I could make my image look identical to his “Oh my God, the most brilliant amazing _________ I’ve ever seen shot.”

Does it matter? Probably not, but as an ethical photographer it irks me. Why? Because it creates a completely unrealistic expectation with people who don’t know better.

The problem with this is, I recently had a photograph widely shared where one individual stated that I’d painted in the lightning strike. Is that possible? Yes. Had I done that? No. Have I ever done that? No. I’d crouched at the edge of a field during a lightning storm to get that shot. Today’s image is a new lightning shot and if you decide to try this, know the risks.

I’ll bring my rant to a close. Be ethical in your photography. I love beautifully edited images but if it’s digitally enhanced or filtered to death, why not admit that? If it’s a composite, say so. Nature is amazing enough as it is. That’s good enough for me.

5 thoughts on “Nature…”

  1. It had never occurred to me that digital images could be altered to change a picture to something very unlike the original, by adding lightening strikes for example. I think you have developed your special talent to see what would make an extraordinary picture and because you put yourself where the possibility of pictures could be, and that you don’t digitally enhance your nature shots is the reason your photos are so compelling, all on their own. I can think of several of your photos that put me right there with you as you took the shot. Thank you for sharing your pictures and for giving me something to think about, yet again.

    1. Thanks Judy, this means a lot to me. I’ve found that I love the editing process as much as the taking of the photo. While I do remove rain or sensor dust spots from my images, I try not to create something that wasn’t there. I also appreciate the digital artistry that I see, and find that the ones that are really good at it, are very upfront about their processes. It’s mindblowing what can be done.

  2. The most irksome of all is that the masses can’t tell the difference! Which, as you point out, leads to false expectations. Quite ridiculous, really.

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