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.

What Is Real?

Way back, in 2005 I believe (well, that IS way back in digital imaging years), I wrote an article entitled "Photography And Truth", which was published in Digital Outback Photo. That article can be read and downloaded in pdf format here. In the interim, software has become even more advanced.  What made me think about my 2005 article is a recent purchase I made of Thomas Knoll's  (the developer of Photoshop) Knoll Light Factory.  It certainly isn't inexpensive but I was very intrigued with what it could do.  It allows lighting effects with exquisite control of every aspect of a digitally produced light source.  Any and every aspect of the artifical light and its artifacts, including many that I would never have thought of, is under software control.  The developer really knows and understands light.  For an example of what the software can do, see this short training video by Mark Johnson.

I believe the main users of this software are those that use artificial lights as part of their images (ie portrait and product photographers) but there is also the possibility of using it to enhance landscape photography. This is my first attempt at trying this software.  It is easy to use and very deep in terms of control. Below is my original photograph of the 528 Boat Ramp at Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park.

Copyright Howard Grill

My first attempt at using Knoll Light Factory was to add some sun, causing a subtle, but nonetheless important, change to the image, as seen below.

Copyright Howard Grill

I was able to add the sun on the left, controlling the size of the disc, the clarity of the edge of the disc and the haziness of the glow around it to reflect the cloud cover and could have added flare effects had I wanted to.  For a first attempt I think the effect is realistic.

Will the sun ever, during the course of the year, be in that position......I don't know.  Is it "OK" to do this with 'fine art photographs' that are not photojournalistic?  I certainly can't answer that for everybody.  The thoughts and conclusions in my article "Photography And Truth" reflect my own thinking.  Is it OK for a painter to paint the sun into his image if it isn't out?