Lake Louise Bouquet

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March 24-

It seems this wild bouquet might be a good share on an otherwise nasty day here in Eastern Iowa. It’s especially frigid where I sit; as I listen not only to the driving rain against winter plastic still covering the windows of our old farmhouse, but also to clanging in the basement as the furnace repairman tries to get us heat again. It could be much worse- better the furnace go out during a 35 degree March cold snap than one in January when it’s 35 below! Still, if I thought I could type while wearing gloves I’d have them on right now…

This photo was taken in August 2011 while my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Canada’s Banff National Park. Truly one of the most beautiful places in the world, and a spot we hope to return to soon. I mentioned in a previous post that I have a number of files that were shot long ago that are in need of revisiting, as they’ve never been properly processed. Those from this trip, which included stops at four of Canada’s National Parks, are among them. At the time I was just beginning to learn the ins and outs of digital photography, and while I didn’t yet have editing capabilities (i.e. computer and software) I knew that I’d eventually go in that direction. Therefore, I shot in a mode called JPEG + RAW which saves two file versions of every photo.

When the camera saves a JPEG file it basically makes the editing decisions for you, providing a fairly polished, fairly final product. When you shoot in RAW the camera basically saves a whole bunch of conditional information, leaving it up to you to edit and process to your liking. This gives the photographer far more control over their final image.

There’s a little bit of a stigma people have toward “computer enhanced” images. In reality, all digital photography is computer enhanced to a degree, it’s just a matter of if it’s done by the photographer or by the processor inside a camera. People hear of photographers editing or processing and jump to the conclusion that this somehow means we are manipulating our images. The term “Photoshop,” while itself a popular editing software has become synonymous with acts like patching a giant purple moon above a rainbow spanning a backlit waterfall. (Unicorns and stardust optional.) While it is true that modern technology makes such creations possible, it falls on the photographer and his or her own sense of ethics and integrity to decide where to draw the line.

Personally, I believe in presenting photos that are as close to how the scene really looked as possible. I believe there is abundant beauty and enchantment in the natural world as it is without alteration. In a photo such as this one (which has been processed from its original RAW file) I made adjustments to brighten and add some contrast to the overall scene. I also made the decision at the time it was shot to use a slightly longer exposure to allow motion blur in the stream. Without these choices, the image would appear flat, lifeless and dull, which is in no way representative of how things appeared in real life.

Just something to think about next time you hear a photographer speak of editing, and something I’ve been wanting to clarify in case anyone has questioned times I’ve mentioned it myself. All digital photography, from that shot on top end DSLR’s to what you shoot on a cell phone is computer enhanced. It’s all a function of processing, just as it was in the days of film. The burden falls on the photographer to decide on the level of honesty in their work.


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