Photography, art or techno skills?

I used to do a lot of photo editing when I first discovered Photoshop but eventually tired of it. I learnt to colour pop, but then everywhere you looked you would see colour popped photos – boring. The current craze for instagram does little for me, it doesn’t seem to require any particular skill or eye for a good quality photo.

Then last year I did a photography course and everyone was furiously editing everything, trying every trick the software offered. It put me off even more and I concentrated on improving my camera skills. That didn’t work, my photography became worse as I struggled to get to grips with manual camera settings.

I’m gradually recovering and on a photo day I can usually get a few shots I’m happy with, probably around 5%! I have three lenses to play with and have often thought that if I just had this lens or that lens then I might get the results I want. But that’s nonsense of course, it’s all in the eye, and sometimes choosing a good way to use software to create an interesting image.

Here I have played with a photo in a few different ways, a couple of which I believe work well and some less so. Do you have an opinion to offer? Do you like some more than others? or maybe you don’t like any of them? Let me know what you think or perhaps post a few versions of a image that you have worked with. As always click for a larger view.

24 thoughts on “Photography, art or techno skills?

  1. I agree with you about the photomanipulation craze. It’s more important to have an eye for the original picture, than to try and make something look good in editing. Because, really, you can’t make something good in editing. You can make it better than it was, in many cases…but if you start with something that doesn’t satisfy your artist’s eye, editing won’t really change that. That’s what I’ve found, at any rate.

    Poo with glitter on it is still only poo, after all. 🙂

    Of your posted photos, I like the first one best. The colors seem most…natural, I suppose. At a thumbnail glance, it looks closest to an original (though I could be wrong).

    Good luck with finding the balance that is right for you!

  2. I like the first one.
    I always said I wouldn’t use editing programs because I feared a lack of integrity. One night I tried playing with photos I was about to delete. I ended up staying at the computer all night -playing with light and colour. Sometimes the end result had a barely tenuous connection to the original, but the germs of documented fact were still in there somewhere. I also write fiction and realized that just as I use actual events and snippets of overheard dialogue as fodder for my imagination, so I could use snippets of actual photos to tell the truth in a fictional way. Besides, it’s fun.
    Never say never.

    1. Charis thank you for your interesting comment. I also write fiction and gather snippets, bits of dialogue, bits of characters and yes I manipulate them too. People have always mixed it up, I guess that’s art. It’s great fun and addictive too!

  3. There are many views about editing, and personally I don’t like a photograph where you can see it’s just not ‘natural’. But then I do love creating pictures for my stories out of my photographs. I often use up to three different photos to make a picture, by choosing the main pic and then cutting pieces out of others and inserting them. I end up with a photo that’s a complete fake, but fits my story. A favourite of mine is the second pic down in this story: (apologies Gilly for putting a link to my blog – but it’s only to show what I mean). I used three photos to create the mouse looking in the mirror. So I suppose in some ways editing can be useful – but on the other hand I think it can spoil an already good photo. I liked your grey leaf by the way – it looked so delicate.

  4. Artistic alteration is great – if that was the original intention when taking the photo or if producing a series of deliberately altered images for a project. But I agree that it seems that too many people head for photoshop rather than trying to get it right in camera. I usually just crop, tweak the contrast and sharpen. But, if I have an art idea when taking the photo you will get some ‘orrible results… see for examples 😉

  5. I also took a course in photoshop and found that I really don’t care for it other than for chopping an image. I might use it to lighten a dark photo but otherwise I stick with the original. If it doesn’t look right to me. I don’t use it. I like your original one.


  6. I think the first one is the best in my humble opinion. It’s an honest photograph that has been edited in a subtle way to enhance the image, rather than try to turn it into a piece of contemporary art hanging in a dentists waiting room.

    I think any editing should enhance a picture, not change it beyond what was originally intended and the point of capture.

  7. i really like the grey and white image, it looks light, delicate, natural …. and yes obviously manipulated images leave me cold beyond the first moment of incredulity so i am not a photography artist for sure! a friend is sending me her daughter’s instagram images of traveling in europe and they look so flat most of the time i wish i could see originals 🙂

  8. I’ve never played with photoshop or really any other editing tools except for iPhoto, which isn’t very sophisticated. I personally like the original and the orange one because it looks like an original fall leaf. I guess I prefer the more real-looking photos! 🙂

  9. Say No to photo editing? I only do it on a regular editor of Windows computer. I don’t do any photoshop or instagram tweaking. I can’t say I oppose to those who do, just as long it’s not SO EXCESSIVE!

  10. I really like the original – the colour contrast is really good, and the photo has an interesting depth of field. But I also love the orange coloured edit. I don’t see photo-editing as a problem – it’s just another creative process which can produce a different work of art.

  11. The original is beautiful. the grey one is a close second. Like you, I would much rather improve my camera skills rather than my photo processing ones.

  12. I’m a purest – I like original untouched inages. I do some cropping and chaging of pixels for fitting the photo on WordPress but the original is always the true photo. I do like the second image because it does look like a paitning. It depends on whther you want to make it very different fromt eh original in order to create a certain kind of effect. It’s like anything else in the arts – it’s all in the eye of the artist. You are the artist you can create it in whatever way you think is best. I believe all of your photo’s are outstanding.
    nice post – I like the dialog, Gilly.

  13. Hmmm – I’m with you, Gilly, I’m Photoshopped out. Cropping is essential, of course, and sometimes you get a shot that can be salvaged by making it lighter (less often, darker), but most of the time the extreme manipulation just doesn’t work out. So it won’t surprise you that the two photos I like best in your series are the first one, which at least looks like natural dead leaf color, and the monochrome (fourth) version. Good post with useful advice!

  14. I agree with you on that “photography” in the eyes of masses doesn’t require any talent, but an Iphone and instagram…. I was just thinking about that craze… but then I think in the end, real photographers and their true craftsmanship will win over

  15. I do like the original, and the gray version, Gilly. I’ve played a little with manipulating photos because it’s all so new to me, but mostly I want to improve my photography skills.

  16. I like all the single color versions, not the bi-color effects. But that’s just me.
    I’m with you 100% about Instagram, I think they’re faddy with their trademark square formats, but that’s it. Otherwise grainy, muddy, what’s the deal?
    I have iPhoto on my Mac, that’s it. So I do a little bit of editing, and use it if it improves a shot. But in truth, I still prefer to edit in the camera as much as I can.

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