Photography: Pure Versus Editing


I have been wanting to post about this topic for the longest time because I've read so many different opinions about whether using photo editing software (such as Photoshop) is true photography.

Many opinions are that, no, if you use photo editing you're cheating because a real photographer is a purist and does everything with the camera. But I don't think that's entirely true because before digital photography, even a film photographer would use editing techniques in their darkroom to correct or enhance his or her photographs.

And the same goes for moviemaking. If we were to view a film in its original cut, it would look nothing like the finished product we see on a movie screen because the film has been edited and processed in post-production.

First, allow me say that I am not a professional photographer, so I'm by no means an expert. However, I do have my own opinion on this topic, which I would like to share.

I don't believe there is always one correct way or rule to do something; especially when it comes to anything artistic, and to me photography is an art form. So I don't think it should be about whether you're a purist or use photo editing, I think it's more about using whatever you choose to achieve what you see through the lens of the camera. Because really, three photographers could look at the same exact image, yet they will see three completely different things because their eyes are looking at it from three different perspectives. Also, these same three photographers will interject what they imagine they see within the image.

Photography is all in how the photographer sees the image. It's an interpretation.


Example: Do you see the before and after photos above? Well, when I took the before (untouched) photo, that's not really how I saw the image. My eyes were more focused on the contrasts between the glass and metal tower and the brown building next to it and the shadow on the wall. The second I saw this image, I had a vision of how I wanted it to look. And the after photo you see, is exactly how I envisioned it.

I wanted it look partially realistic and partially graphic.

And yes, I suppose I could have achieved some of that through my camera, however, I didn't choose to. I prefer uploading my photos and then using editing software to get the results I want, because to be completely honest, I find photo editing a huge part of the creative process in taking a photograph.

A photograph is like a painting. And just like an artist who paints, they use various tools (a canvas, brushes, paints, pencils, charcoals, etc.) to interpret the vision they see.

Therefore, a photographer can use not only his or her camera, but also editing tools, just like an artist.

I don't always using photo editing. Many of the photographs I post here are shot with my camera in manual mode (such as the one at the top of this post). Yet, I see nothing unauthentic or cheating about any photographer using editing because I don't think it's possible to do everything with just the camera.

Editing is a craft.

And editing takes learning and an eye.

I leave you now with a few before and after photographs. The after's are my own vision. My own interpretation of how I saw and felt these images.

Please enjoy...


Before


After


Before


After


Before


After

Have a fantabulous weekend everyone!
X

52 comments

  1. Editing is part of any form of art, when you think about it. Literary, of course, but how many times do painters and pottery makers change their work until they have a final product? I especially like your first set of photos, Ron, because the coloring in the second image is exactly what comes to mind for me with those columns.

    Photography is such a fun art form because even a kid can take a great picture! I always enjoyed family vacations where my kids took cameras and seeing all their pictures afterwards. Everyone sees something different! That is true expression.

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  2. Ron, I am envious of anyone who can use camera and Photoshop. Yes, I can click away with the camera but I am no expert, I don't actually know how to use the flippin;thing. Always I rely on automatic setting. I don't care much for 'changed' photographs where things are added afterwards but I do like the enhancements achieved by changing colour ... that doesn't actually detract from the original. Your last set of pictures is a case in point, you kept the original and just intensified the colour.


    Have a great weekend x

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  3. i don't mind editing at all. sometimes the camera's metering doesn't get it right, the dynamic range is beyond the camera's capabilities, user error so it's nice and sometimes even fun to edit a photograph. i don't mind that. one thing i have no interest in is removing or putting something in a photograph that was not there. i don't care if other people do it, that's their business, but i don't want to remove or add anything to my photographs other than light editing. i won't add or remove people or objects, my preference. i did change a sky in one of my photos because it was a very cloudy day and the sky was white. i had a better sky on file and used it. i swear though, every time i look at that photo, that's the first thing that comes to mind (that's not the original sky). is it wrong, no, but i wish i didn't have to do that - sometimes though to save a photo it might be necessary and it was a darn good photo. it's not a practice for me. i appreciate photography and digital art or whatever people want to do. might not all be for me, but nothing wrong with variety, we don't all have to have the same views. there's room for everyone.

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  4. Ron, to me it doesn't matter how you get your photographs here because I enjoy them whether you've used editing or took them solely with your camera. I like how you said that photography is like painting because I never thought of it that way before but it's true. Photography is an art form!

    I'm amazed at the before and after photograph of the sailboat. I loved how you edited it!

    Even though I'm not a photographer I think this is a very well said post, Ron. Have a wonderful weekend X

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  5. Hey there Bijoux!

    "Editing is part of any form of art, when you think about it. Literary, of course, but how many times do painters and pottery makers change their work until they have a final product?"

    Yes, that is sooooooo true and I'm so glad you brought that up because editing IS part of any form of art. Good point!

    "Photography is such a fun art form because even a kid can take a great picture!"

    You're absolutely right, especially with how digital cameras are set up today - point and shoot.

    "Everyone sees something different! That is true expression."



    Amen!


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a super-duper weekend!
    X

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  6. Rob LenihanApril 25, 2014

    Hey, Ron, excellent post on a most interesting topic. I don't have any problem with editing photographs. It's part of the process--part of the art of photography.


    As a journalist, I am a little uncomfortable with editing or enhancing news photographs and that's only because I'm concerned about going down that slippery slope where you end up altering or distorting what actually happened.


    Photographs have literally changed the course of history and its important that the image captures the truth.


    But other than that, it's all about the art! Have a picture perfect weekend, buddy!

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  7. Good morning Valerie!

    " Always I rely on automatic setting."



    And I do the same thing sometimes, especially if I see something and need to capture the image FAST. Other times I will use the manual settings on my camera to adjust the lighting, shutter speed, aperture, or even use one of the special effects within my camera.


    I'm only just beginning to learn how to use photo editing software, but it's been such a great learning experience so far.


    Much thanks for stopping by, dear lady. Have a lovely weekend!


    X to you and Joe!

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  8. Ron, what gorgeous photos -- especially the first one of that open gate (so inviting!)

    I agree, some photos need a bit of retouching. I view that the way I view my own face. Even with a bit of makeup, I'm still *ME*, just a better version (I hope, ha!)

    Retouching helps the viewer to see what the photographer saw. Like in your photo with the glass building, the retouched version really "pops."

    Obviously, I don't appreciate retouching if it transforms one thing into something completely different -- like putting one celeb's legs onto another one's body. To me, that smacks of falseness.

    Great topic, my friend. Happy weekend to you!

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  9. Hey there Val!

    "sometimes the camera's metering doesn't get it right, the dynamic range is beyond the camera's capabilities, user error so it's nice and sometimes even fun to edit a photograph."

    Yes, I agree.

    "i did change a sky in one of my photos because it was a very cloudy day and the sky was white. i had a better sky on file and used it. . i swear though, every time i look at that photo, that's the first thing that comes to mind (that's not the original sky). is it wrong, no, but i wish i didn't have to do that - sometimes though to save a photo it might be necessary and it was a darn good photo."

    Exactly. The skies in your photographs ALWAYS blow me away! And whether you achieve them solely through the camera or adjusted them through editing makes no difference to me because it's HOW you saw the image.

    " but nothing wrong with variety, we don't all have to have the same views. there's room for everyone."



    Well-said, girl!


    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a terrific weekend!


    X

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  10. Hola Denise!


    The picture I took of the sailboat was actually a work in progress because I had no idea what I was doing with the editing, I just fiddled around with it until I got the look I wanted - HA!


    Thanks so much for stopping by, girl. Have a wonderful weekend too!


    X

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  11. Hey there Rob!

    "As a journalist, I am a little uncomfortable with editing or enhancing news photographs and that's only because I'm concerned about going down that slippery slope where you end up altering or distorting what actually happened."

    Yes, I agree with your point because that's a completely different (and serious) thing.

    "But other than that, it's all about the art!"



    Amen!


    Much thanks for stopping by, buddy. Have a most excellent weekend!


    X

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  12. Mark PetruskaApril 25, 2014

    I'm glad you posted on this topic! You probably remember I touched on it myself last year, and I remember you were in defense of editing then. I feel the same way as you do, and that's evident by my reaction to your photos: for the most part, I much prefer the "after" images, especially that last one where you brought out the green tones. Personally, on the boat shot, I love how you sharpened the vessel itself, but also liked the fog-shrouded riggings in the background. I think they lent an air of mystery to the photograph.


    Well done! Thank you!

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  13. Such an interesting topic, Ron! As you know, it's only been recent that I've gotten interested in photography but it's always been something I wanted to learn. If someone uses editing to get the result they want, then why not? Editing, in my opinion, is part of the process.

    "three photographers could look at the same exact image, yet they will see three completely different things because their eyes are looking at it from three different perspectives. Also, these same three photographers will interject what they imagine they see within the image."



    Great point!


    Love what you did with last collage, dude!

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  14. Hiya Shae!

    Great to see ya, I've MISSED you!!!!

    "As for the debate I will say that when it comes to touching up people I really don't think that is quite right. I agree with landscape and lighting photoshop is part of the process but when it comes to people I really feel they should shine without the use of much photoshop. I think it takes away from their natural beauty."



    Great point, and I agree! Sometimes Photoshop can be overdone in say, fashion/beauty magazines, to the point of being ridiculous. My opinion on this post is more about landscape, cityscape, etc., photographs.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, girl. Have an AWESOME weekend!


    X

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  15. Howdy Mark!

    "You probably remember I touched on it myself last year, and I recall that you were in defense of editing then."

    YES! And I was thinking of you when I wrote this post because I remember a while back when you shared this topic on your own blog!

    "Personally, on the boat shot, I love how you sharpened the vessel itself, but also liked the fog-shrouded riggings in the background. I think they lent an air of mystery to the photograph."



    Yes, the first one with the fog IS more mysterious-looking, you're right!


    Much thanks for stopping by, buddy. Have a faaaaabulous weekend!


    X to you and Tara!

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  16. Hiya Matt!

    "Editing, in my opinion, is part of the process."

    I think the same thing, it is part of the process. It's a tool, just like and other artist form. And when used creatively, I think it can really enhance the photographers vision.

    I don't know if you remember, but one of the photographs in the last collage (#3) I used in one of my past posts; adding a quote about fear. I posted it

    Much thanks for stopping by, buddy! Have a most excellent weekend!

    Hiya Matt!

    "Editing, in my opinion, is part of the process."

    I think the same thing, it is part of the process. It's a tool, just like and other artist form. And when used creatively, I think it can really enhance the photographers vision.

    I don't know if you remember, but one of the photographs in the last collage (#3) I used in one of my past posts; adding a quote about fear. I posted it last month:

    http://www.triloquist.net/2014/03/life-quotes-and-photographs.html

    Much thanks for stopping by, buddy! Have a most excellent weekend!

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  17. Wow, that's right Ron, you did use that photo in a past post, I remember now. I noticed that you used the one of the sailboat as well.

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  18. Yup...I used that one as well! :)

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  19. Geraldine H.April 25, 2014

    You are so talented Ron.


    And you're right, editing (done well) is a craft and and art form.


    I actually love both versions of all of your photos above. It's interesting how the mood of a photo can be so different, after an edit.


    Have a fab weekend and keep clicking those amazing photos, :-)

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  20. Hello there Geraldine!

    Thank you, yet I'm still learning so much about photography and editing. It's been such an enjoyable journey!

    " It's interesting how the mood of a photo can be so different, after an edit."

    Exactly. And that's my point of sharing this post. No one way is right or wrong, nor should it be a question of a picture being BETTER than the other. It's just a personal preference and how people see things differently and how the photographer chose to present his or her vision.

    Much thanks for stopping by, my friend. Have a FAB weekend!

    X

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  21. Yup, editing is an artform in and of itself. I use all sorts of gizmos to achieve the desired effect, it's just as you say, showing the perception of what you see in an image. All I try to do is keep the spirit of the subject of what I photograph, to allow the viewer to perceive how I see things.
    Great post, the only one I would have left alone would be the ship. I like the hazy background. Without it, the picture looks a little flat.

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  22. BenzekneesApril 25, 2014

    I don't think there is anything wrong with editing photos after they have been taken either. In the photos you have shown here today though I preferred the Befores to the Afters in every case. I'm sure it's just my preference because there is nothing wrong with the editing you did, it's just I preferred one to the other. Have a great weekend Ron!

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  23. " All I try to do is keep the spirit of the subject of what I photograph, to allow the viewer to perceive how I see things."

    Love how you said that, Dale! Faaaaabulous!

    "the only one I would have left alone would be the ship. I like the hazy background. Without it, the picture looks a little flat."

    Thank you for your feedback :)

    Have a SUPER weekend, buddy, and much thanks for stopping by!

    X

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  24. Hey there Benze!


    " I'm sure it's just my preference because there is nothing wrong with the editing you did, it's just I preferred one to the other."


    Thank you for your feedback and you're right....it's a personal preference :)


    Have an awesome weekend, my friend, and thank you for stopping by!


    X

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  25. Ron, whenever I read your posts about photography I can always feel your love and passion through your words.

    I don't do a lot of picture taking myself, but I really appreciate looking at photographs and the different moods and feelings I get from them, which are a reflection of how each photographer captured how they saw it.

    I think you're right, photography is all in how the photographer sees the image. It's their interpretation.



    Great photos you shared. My favorites are the boat and the last ones. The way you edited those last photos makes pop and gives them a completely different feel from the before's. They look like an ad for a sci--fi movie!


    What photo editing do you use, Ron?

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  26. I like the emptiness of that photograph, Ron.

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  27. Emptiness is how I saw this image. I wanted it to appear as though the boat was floating in the middle of nothings. A void. Quiet and stark.

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  28. Boy....I'm of two minds about this. On one hand, I have the utmost respect for those who can work their settings to accomplish the look and feel of their subject. They blow me away. I have dials and buttons and functions I dare not mess with out of sheer panic that I'd lose the settings that I DO know how to use.
    On the other hand, I have a lot of admiration for folks who know how to use editing programs and end up with the results YOU end up with...holy cow, what I could do with the gazillion shots I have that SUCK...LOL...ah, if I only knew how and if I could give myself permission. I'm pretty sure I couldn't manage either. It's that desire to actually achieve the look and feel through the lens that keeps me at it. I guess that's why there's always a bit of an ah ha! moment when I discover the photo I thought was someone's 'straight out of the camera photo'...isn't straight outta the camera. I applaud their talents and keep at it with my point and shoot attempts.


    I love taking photos. And I thoroughly enjoy others photos. I envy folks who are skilled and can actually make photoshop programs work and work well. I resize photos with mine. LOL...that's the extent of my photoshop knowledge! But enjoy the work of others. I mean wow...look at what a bit of tweaking did for yours!!

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  29. Hiya Mel!

    "I'm of two minds about this. On one hand....On the other hand."

    Exactly. Either way is admirable to me as well. And I don't feel that one is better than the other, I just feel that either way a photographer achieves his or her results, worked for them.

    As I shared, I do a bit a both. Some photographs I take in either manual mode or auto mode, but then others I enjoy fiddling around with photo editing to get my vision.

    " I resize photos with mine. LOL...that's the extent of my photoshop knowledge!"

    Your photographs ALWAYS impress me. I love your 'eye.'

    Much thanks for stopping by, dear lady. Have a super-duper weekend!

    X

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  30. Ron, I agree with you totally. Creativity is the end result of what you have inside of you. Even after you have made your adjustments people will see what they think they see and not necessarily what you had in mind. I love to play with my photos on photo shop. I feel that life itself is like a photo. When we look at what we have we can alter the things we want to or we can just go with the flow. I prefer to make the changes I want and damn those who say it does fit in. I say if it fits me then it is okay with me. And the things that are good you is your choice and you have the free will to do it with what you want.

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  31. "Even after you have made your adjustments people will see what they think they see and not necessarily what you had in mind."

    Dave...you are sooooo SPOT ON about that! Which is why I think every image taken, leaves it up to everyone's interpretation and how they see it.

    "I feel that life itself is like a photo. And the things that are good you is your choice and you have the free will to do it with what you want."

    I freakin' LOVE how you said that because it's so true, life IS like a photo!

    Much thanks for stopping by and sharing your insight, buddy. Hope your weekend is fabulous!

    X

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  32. Great post, Ron! I'm always in awe of your photos and honestly, I never wonder if they're edited somehow or not. I just appreciate them for their beauty.
    I used to know someone who taught an advanced photoshop course at a university so it obviously is an art form in itself. I think it gets a bad rap from all the celeb/model photo shopping that's done to make people look uber perfect.
    Hope you're enjoying your weekend! xoxo

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  33. Hey there Chrissy!

    Thank you :)

    "I used to know someone who taught an advanced photoshop course at a university so it obviously is an art form in itself."

    Yes, I think it is an art form, and one in which I'm still learning so much about.

    "I think it gets a bad rap from all the celeb/model photo shopping that's done to make people look uber perfect."

    I agree. What I'm referring to in this post is about using it either enhance or create a "look" or "feel" to how a photograph sees an image.

    Much thanks for stopping by, girl. Hope you're enjoying your weekend too!

    ((((((((((((((( You )))))))))))))))

    X

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  34. Technically, even cropping is photo editing. And no one expects you not to do that, so who cares if you add a little fill light or up the contrast or whatever. And so often the colors you see with your eye are more intense than those your camera catches anyway. I make no apologies for tweaking after the shot to get a better image.


    I especially like the ghostly sailboat!

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  35. Herman TurnipApril 27, 2014

    "Editing is a craft"

    Exactly! Photography is an art form, and it's up to the artist to decide how s/he wants their art perceived. Heck, "photoshopping" was being done well before Photoshop was invented. There's no need to decry a work of art as invalid simply because the artist chose to enhance the work to bring out the finer details, or even to alter the image completely to better reflect what s/he see's in the mind's eye.

    You're work is striking, and with the fine examples you've given here I've only grown to appreciate your photographs all the more. Awesome work, my friend!

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  36. "Technically, even cropping is photo editing."

    Exactly. And thank you for mentioning that :)

    "And so often the colors you see with your eye are more intense than those your camera catches anyway. I make no apologies for tweaking after the shot to get a better image."

    Great point! And you shouldn't make any apologies because YOU took the picture and are presenting it HOW you saw it, with YOUR eye.


    And btw, I always enjoy your photographs on your blog.

    Much thanks for stopping by, girl. Hope your weekend was FABU!

    X

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  37. "Photography is an art form, and it's up to the artist to decide how s/he wants their art perceived."

    I so agree, Herman. And especially with something like art because no two people will perceive it the same way.

    " Heck, "photoshopping" was being done well before Photoshop was invented."

    Exactly.

    "There's no need to decry a work of art as invalid simply because the artist chose to enhance the work to bring out the finer details, or even to alter the image completely to better reflect what s/he see's in the mind's eye."



    Thank you. However the work of art is it achieved, is however it is achieved. Either way (pure or editing) should be respected.


    Much thanks for stopping by and for your encouraging words, buddy. Hope your weekend was awesome!

    X to you, Karin, and Mr. Tyler!

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  38. I seldom edit...only because I am lazy. I believe photography in itself is both a skill and an art, but editing is as well. My husband edits his photos were are good by themselves...when he finishes they are AMAZING! I wish I had the patience to learn the software and more time to edit...I've realized I can only have so many hobbies; besides the cost of having two photographer in the family would be astronomical, lol!

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  39. EXACTLY! I'm really not a purist in anything. Everything can always be improved.

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  40. " I believe photography in itself is both a skill and an art, but editing is as well."

    Suzi, I TOTALLY agree with you 100%. BOTH are a skill/craft.

    "My husband edits his photos were are good by themselves...when he finishes they are AMAZING! "

    OMG yes...your husbands' photos ARE amazing! I often think when I see his photographs that they should be in magazine. He really has a great eye for not only photography, but editing as well.

    Much thanks for stopping by, my friend. Have a faaaaablous week!

    X

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  41. Hey there Lisa!

    " I'm really not a purist in anything."



    You know, come to think of it...neither am I. I'm one of those people who likes to figure things out on my own and then add my own thoughts or vision to them.


    Much thanks for stopping by, my friend. Hope your weekend was AWESOME. It was gorgeous here, so I spent much of Sunday outdoors :)


    X

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  42. Ron, I just stopped back to read comments on this post after I left a comment on your new post today.


    Thank you for letting me know what photo editing you use. I have a friend who uses Elements from Photoshop and he really likes it. He said that same thing, it's easier and much cheaper than Photoshop.

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  43. *waving*


    Hello again, Robert!


    Yes, he's right...Elements is MUCH cheaper than the full version of Photoshop. I may have to look into getting it some day soon because I would like to have something all-in-one instead of using different editing softwares.

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  44. This is FASCINATING.... all your ideas... your before and after shots. And you take pictures on manual???! WHAT !!!???? You ROCK! The tunnel one is really neat... I can't even pick my favorite because I like what you did with all!

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  45. Hey there Katherine!


    Yes, I take a lot of my photos in manual mode ever since I got this new camera last summer. I love this camera because it has both a manual AND auto mode. I use the auto mode sometimes as well, especially if I see something interesting and need to take the picture FAST.


    Thanks a bunch for stopping by, girl. Have a SUPER week!!!


    X

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  46. You have enhanced the photos, bringing out true beauty! I see nothing wrong with editing.

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  47. Thank you, Jean. That's why I really enjoy editing because you can enhance photographs; bringing out what your eye sees as 'your' interpretation.


    X

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  48. You too, Geraldine! I'm just getting ready to go outside and enjoy this fabulous Sunday. The weather is GORGEOUS!

    X

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  49. The last three are by far my favorite transformation. I don't know what it is but that green tint you gave the photo really gives a whole new dimension to it. As for the debate I will say that when it comes to touching up people I really don't think that is quite right. I agree with landscape and lighting photoshop is part of the process but when it comes to people I really feel they should shine without the use of much photoshop. I think it takes away from their natural beauty.

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  50. Helloooooooo Debbie!

    Thank you :) That first shot of the gate I took in Chestnut Hill a few months ago. The homes there are stunning!

    "some photos need a bit of retouching. I view that the way I view my own face. Even with a bit of makeup, I'm still *ME*, just a better version (I hope, ha!)"

    HAHAHAHAHA! Debbie, I LOVED your analogy, it's BRILLIANT!

    "Obviously, I don't appreciate retouching if it transforms one thing into something completely different -- like putting one celeb's legs onto another one's body. To me, that smacks of falseness."



    I agree! And as I shared with Rob in my comment response to him, that's a completely different thing. However, to use photo editing to enhance, correct, or even create a particular 'feel' to a image, is okay.


    Much thanks for stopping by, dear lady. Have a HAPPY weekend!


    X

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  51. "I really appreciate looking at photographs and the different moods and feelings I get from them, which are a reflection of how each photographer captured how they saw it."

    Meeeeee too, Robert! Sometimes I'll go into a bookstore and grab a couple of photography books off the shelf and just look at all the photographs; getting lost in them!

    That last series of photographs where ones that I played around with to get that effect.

    I use several different editing softwares. I use PicMonkey, Pixlr, and also LunaPic. They're all online and FREE. However, one of these days I would like to download a software into my computer such as Photoshop Elements because I read that it's a bit easier (and less confusing) to use than Photoshop.

    Much thanks for stopping by, buddy. Have a MARVI weekend!

    X

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  52. Geraldine H.June 04, 2014

    happy sunday Ron!

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