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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Digital Pitfalls: A Cautionary Tale

Tom Till recently had an epiphany about how much enhancement is too much. It’s easy to become enamored of the power of digital to make colors pop, but it’s also easy to become addicted to the point where you need more and more.

Are You Going Too Far With Your Photos?
Take a look at these tips to see if you're heading down the road to overdoing your colors. At some point, we all do it. A quick reality check can help you compose photos that represent what you saw instead of a candy-colored version of what you saw.

1 Many sources agree that working with color over long periods of time can lead to perception problems. Some books suggest doing most of your work in the morning when you're fresh and taking frequent breaks from working with colorful material.
2 Get a friend's opinion. If your spouse or one of your friends passes by your computer screen and remarks that your colors are over the top, it's a good idea to listen. In my case, I had the opposite, a friend who actually was facilitating my problem.
3 There's a huge disconnect between what the public sees as normal color and what photographers want to see. Most of my gallery images have remained unchanged over the years and were unaffected by my meltdown, but we do offer saturated metal prints that are very popular.
4 Keep your eyes on the color histograms in postproduction. I paid no attention to the color histograms and instead read only the luminance. Watching the color histograms more can help you keep colors in line. Also, completely scan every corner of your image for certain secondary colors that are bellwethers to a problem. In some of my images, 95% of the colors may look right, but an iridescent green or a weird purple in the shadows is a giveaway to an oversaturation problem.
5 Beware of Facebook praise. As much as I appreciate them, Facebook "likers" will gush about almost anything no matter how over the top it may be. These photographs are likely to be your most "liked" work, but that doesn't mean they're your best work.
6 If you like oversaturated colors, it's a free country. Frankly, some of my stock clients and a large portion of the general public like them. Other photographers who may criticize you are never going to pay your bills.
7 I would have saved myself a lot of grief if I had hit upon this realization sooner: Color is only one pictorial element. Making it preeminent leads viewers away from your other compositional elements and may mask the innate beauty of your often hard-won subjects themselves.


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