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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

One More Real vs. Feel

Not to belabor the point, but I wanted to post one more example of manipulating an image in order to allow it to better convey a mood. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to read yesterdays entry regarding this issue.


"Siren's Song"
Bandon Beach, Oregon
Real vs. Feel
Copyright Howard Grill

I took this particular image on the Oregon Coast workshop with Nancy Rotenberg that I mentioned in the January 18th post. The picture was taken at sunset, on a gorgeous beach, with a group of workshop participants who were really a pleasure to be with. Even if I wasn’t photographing, I would have wanted to stay on that beach just to take in the sea stacks, the breeze, and the sound of the waves. I wanted to convey both a sense of calm as well as the feeling that there was an almost magnetic attraction to the water, as if you just wanted to walk right out into the sea. The image was therefore named “Siren’s Song”.

In order to try and convey this, I needed to combine two exposures, one for the ocean/beach and one for the sky and then adjust the contrast and saturation to give it the appropriate ‘feel’. Once again, not a ‘real’ visual documentation, but one that, I think, better conveys what it felt like to be there.

Interestingly, most ‘non-photographers’ are unaware that there really is no such thing as a standardized ‘right out of the camera’ truth since the sensor data is not ‘in color’ and that while they might not be doing post processing ‘manipulation’ the camera itself IS. Likewise with the ‘truth’ of film and the use of high/low contrast and high/low saturation emulsions.

In closing, I don’t want to give the impression that a great number of my images are of this genre because, in fact, they are not. They tend to fall into the category of ‘real’ much more frequently than ‘feel’, but in certain situations I do think this type of manipulation can help an image to more successfully communicate what the photographer had intended.

Tomorrow, on to another topic.