I know some photographer’s just don’t like “doctored” images. While I don’t reside in the purist camp I do understand and appreciate this position. But for me sometimes I just want to “play around” with my images to see if I can enhance the vision that I saw when I captured the image. Yet sometimes it’s just as important to leave the end results alone.
Back in the film days, I did things like push processing on the film. In the darkroom, I dodged and burned the print. I bought special paper and chemicals with the idea to manipulate the image to achieve the results I had in mind. For me the creative process in the darkroom was almost as much fun as photographing the image. I could spend hours in the darkroom. I was always inspired by the work of Ansel Adams. While he went to great lengths to capture an image (lugging a view camera and glass plates around the mountains), his real mastery was in the darkroom.
In the digital age, photographers have it made. There are many great tools that enable you to create your vision. But like any good thing it’s often over used or abused. This is especially true when it comes to retouching images of models. Also the current HDR craze seems brings forth a crop of the most unnatural and in some cases downright hideous looking images. Don’t get me wrong there are some HDR (high dynamic range) images that I have found spectacular. I really like the images of Todd Landry and I admit that I have tried to create an HDR image because I have always enjoyed capturing images at night.
That said there are many photographer’s who take wonderful images without any post-processing. I think that Juha Haataja from Finland does a wonderful job with images direct from a camera. In the end it’s all about the photographer’s vision. Are you looking to create a mirror of reality? Are you trying to create an illusion? Do you want to impart a mood? Are trying to convey a feeling? Do you want it to look like a painting? Is it art? Is it a commercial? All these elements are out there for photographers to use and abuse, ignore or embrace. To me it’s what makes photography interesting and fun.