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.

Accepting Imperfection

When it comes to most things, I tend to be a perfectionist. However, when it comes to photography, this can be a problem. I am not referring to seeking perfection in aspects of photography like composition or exposure, as I think it is wise advice not to show one's mistakes or the shots that were 'almost good if only I had done x, y, or z'. But there are times when an image does hold emotional value and yet is imperfect, but not in a way that could have been easily changed or remedied. It is this type of imperfection that I am trying to get myself to become more accepting of.

This photograph is a good example of what I am referring to. After seeing the image, I wanted to print it as a tinted monochrome with an 'antique' look. However, since the shot was at dusk (and perhaps slightly underexposed as I had planned to portray it as a low light photo) and because I wanted the sky to show a good deal of contrast, when I finished processing it a moderate amount of digital noise could be seen. In the past, this would have led me to abandon the image and it never would have seen 'the light of day'.

Sunset Sail
Copyright Howard Grill

But this photo seemed to have some interesting emotional content, at least to me. So I decided it would be a shame to abandon it simply because of some noise. I was willing to accept the noise because I liked the image, but also started to think about how I might work with the noise a bit, as opposed to fighting it. Part of the need to work with the noise was the fact that my noise reduction software didn't seem to be doing a particularly good job at noise remediation.

With this in mind, I actually added some digital noise to give the noise a more generalized presence and make it appear a bit more like film grain. Overall, even in a large print, I don't find it particularly concerning or distracting.

Interestingly, as I was driving to work today, I was listening to a Lensflare 35 podcast. One of the panelists made a statement that I found very apropos to this image and gave me further reassurance that I had made the right choice in continuing to work on it. He stated that he had learned photography from his father and that he had once asked his father if it was a problem to have film grain in the image......and his father replied that if people really noticed the grain then it was probably a boring image anyway.