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Too much of a good thing?

Lately I’ve been noticing that social media has been giving me less enjoyment. I feel I’ve been emphasizing physical fitness more than anything else when I’m not working so it was with great frustration that I was disabled for the best part of 1 month while recovering from appendicitis. During that period, I had thought that I would be active on social media and crank out some of the images and videos from the New Zealand trip but it turns out that there wasn’t a whole lot of material from that nightmarish trip. I’ve found myself idly browsing instead and have come to the realisation that I’ve just been wasting a lot of time browsing without interacting, dreaming without acting and worst of all , getting frustrated with inactivity.

Warwick resort, Fiji. Our recent trip was supposed to be one of inactivity and lying around the beach! Weather conditions changed that very quickly! I actually don’t have many pictures to post from that trip and I’ve had to tell myself that that’s OK. I’m waiting to get out in the wilderness again later this year around Seattle and Vancouver!

I suppose everyone has heard of the theory that ‘more is less’ ; implying that an inundation of social media content can result in ‘meaningless’ interaction and actions that are based on obligation rather than a true desire to engage. Then there’s the flipside that ‘less is more; meaning that if you post rarely and only the very cream of your content , each post will have more value. While I agree that both are true from an ‘artistic intent’ point of view, a simpler interpretation of volume content tends to hold true for social media. That is plain and simply ‘more is more’ and ‘less is less’.

Three Sisters. Tongaporutu, New Zealand. It took me a while to get to this image. I wanted to consider my approach before I began processing. In the past, I would have been in a rush to edit this image first and get in online ASAP!

It’s this very demand of social media interaction that leads to a photographer forcing content out when perhaps there isn’t content to be had. I’ll be honest in saying that I certainly felt this pressure but a few years ago, the positive reinforcement of genuine engagement kept driving me to fulfill my post obligation for the day. Sure there was some degree of quality control I would impose upon myself but many of the posts were 2nd and 3rd preference images from a scene I had shot in the past. Some would argue vehemently against this kind of posting behaviour but I guess it all depends on how a photographer wants to portray themselves. I personally don’t mind showing to the world that not every picture I take is of gold quality. Perhaps by showing the lesser versions of an image and the ‘B sides’ others can learn from my mistakes. Perhaps if the leading landscape photographers did this more there would be a portrayal of more fallibility thereby making them more ‘relatable’. It could even be through a ‘BTS’ account which I see many have already done.

Sometimes, posting images is all about just showing the experience that you had. This image won’t be going on our website, but it’s fair game for facebook/instagram/500px etc. I just like to share the moment.

I see this in my line of work as a physician. Too often, case presentations are given where the clinician speaks of an interesting patient using a tone of congratulatory ‘high fiving themselves’ for their ability to pick the final diagnosis. I feel that I learn more from the exact same presentation, but with the emphasis changed to discussing errors and limitations of the team during the process of coming to the final diagnosis. These give invaluable lessons as to how the same diagnosis could be reached in a more efficient way in the future. Relating this back to photography, I’m sure many of you reading this have tried an approach to editing a difficult image where said approach just wasn’t working. Maybe you came back to it a few times, maybe you scrapped it entirely or maybe you asked someone else for some advice in order to achieve the final image you’re proud of. This process of experimentation and ‘fails’ is rarely something that is discussed perhaps for fear of not being seen as an ultimate player in the broadening world of landscape photography. Having said all of this, I do strongly believe that somewhere ,there should be a spot/site reserved for the cream of the crop, a place for pure inspiration to show off what we are most proud of. For me this is our ‘everlookphotography.com’ site (not facebook or instagram)

Sigatoka Dunes after dawn. There’s a huge list of things I’m not happy about with this shot and I don’t feel that I want to achieve too much more with it. For a start, my lens was extremely dusty leading to patches of flares despite a lens hood on. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to attempt temperature contrasts in this image but decided against it given that the scene really was bathed in gold. Perhaps I’ll come back to this image again in the future, but for now, I still like to show it as a grand scene that ‘could have been’ even though I’m not 100% happy with it.

I’m writing this knowing that many people will disagree but if I had a resolution to make about my life in general, it would be to help others through pointing out the mistakes I’ve made and how I learned from them. I’d like to extend this to my photography for a period of time and hope that you can learn through my error prone eyes 🙂

Sigatoka dunes at dawn. This particular morning in Fiji was one of my favourites. I like a series of images I took from the dunes, but I usually give it at least until the next field trip before I decide which images from the last trip to display on our ‘everlook photography’ site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everlook Action Tutorial

We’ve released a new video tutorial!

We are often asked how we go about creating the characteristic appearance of our images. To answer that question, we’ve released ‘the’ action which we apply and modify to all of our images to achieve that look. This is your chance to use the action and to view the accompanying video which details how to create the action and modify it to suit your needs.  For the month of August, use the discount code STYLE20 for a 20% discount on this particular tutorial. Click on the link below for a detailed description of what you will get.

Everlook Action tutorial

The following video is a brief preview of the ‘simple’ part of the video which tells you how to install and use the action itself.

For users of earlier photoshop versions (eg photoshop 2015) , the action itself will not work as it utilises smart object functionality that will only work in photoshop CC. If you follow the second part of the video , there is only one step that you will need to change. When creating the ‘orton’ layer, do not make this layer a smart object but instead , use the following steps:

  1. Use Gaussian blur on a duplicate layer of the background image with the degree of blur matching the megapixel count of the camera
  2. Open a levels adjustment layer and leave it untouched for now
  3. Group the above two layers and change the opacity to 20%
  4. Now click on the levels adjustment layer inside the group and shift the right hand marker down to somewhere around ‘200’ and shift middle marker to the right until you have the right amount of ‘glow’

Happy editing!

Editing rationale

A quick before and after with text caption to explain some of the reasoning behind selective editing. Mostly done with layer masks and blend if sliders.

It’s sometimes useful to ask “what do I want to achieve with this picture?” before delving into post processing. So here’s a personal Q&A I ran through during various stages of the post processing.

  1. Clearing Clutter : I thought some of the leaves at the bottom blurred by motion and the top left branch were a little too cluttery as was the sharp foilage in the background. I will probably clone the third remaining leaf out from bottom right but for some reason, I don’t mind that one as much
  2. Depth through lighting : I wanted to enhance the natural brights while leaving shadowed areas darker to maintain a sense of depth rather than lighten the whole image
  3. Depth through detail : Even though everything is in focus in the original shot, I sometimes like to sharpen different elements of the scene to exaggerate depth. In this case the foreground rocks and the immediate ferns in the backdrop while softening the light from the background.
  4. Care with contrast adjustment. In ‘normal’ mode, any contrast adjustment not only boosts contrast of lighting but contrast of colour. The browns really lit up in the foreground and the main branch in the background with contrast adjustment necessitating a dial back.
  5. Overall saturation. The final image is oversaturated beyond what I would print for myself at home as is the blurring. The 16 bit base edited file at home is a version I keep for myself to present in different forums differently depending on what I want to show.

purakaunui editing