What is your definition of a photograph?
Is it the unadulterated image you snap through the lens of your camera, or your artistic interpretation of the scene? Do you believe you should present a picture As Is, warts and all, oversaturated and uncropped, or is it okay to touch it up with filters and photo editing tools?
I once dated a woman who believed a photo was only “real” if it was untouched. I, on the other hand, contended that it was perfectly okay to manually touch up a picture using readily available tools and technology if doing so improved the quality of the image. She so passionately (and stubbornly) believed she was right, we actually got into arguments over it. To her, editing a photograph was “cheating,” and in doing so, you are compromising the integrity of your image. “The sky didn’t look that blue in real life,” she would say.
But you know what? People don’t have red pupils in real life, either. The “red eye” effect is the result of the flash reflecting off blood in the choroid of the eye. We think nothing of fixing this when developing (or nowadays, uploading) photos. So what’s wrong with enhancing the sky or softening the shadows? Instagram takes this concept and runs with it. The few photos that are displayed naturally are often accompanied by the #nofilter hashtag. Pretty much everything else has been touched up to some degree. I don’t see any harm in that. To me, photographs are art – a creative expression unique to the person behind the lens. They are meant to evoke a mood, and making them “warmer” or “cooler” can help complement the background scenery.
Clearly, you can tell I’ve been playing around with photos lately. ‘Tis true. Here’s en excellent example, two versions of a photo I took in downtown Portland in September.
See what a dramatic difference a little editing can make? I think it improved the photo immensely. Is it “cheating,” as that ex would insist? Or is it enhancing something that was there all along? I guess you’ll have to be the judge of that. All I know is, I’ll make manual improvements to a photo every single time if the end result turns out that stunning. I also think there’s a fine line, and you don’t want to overdo it. A little editing is great, but too much just makes your shot look cartoony. Finding that balance is key.
Speaking of stunning, Saturday night we got all cultured up. We had been wanting to do something special with Audrey, and Tara stumbled upon a concert by a dance troupe called iLumiDance. I’d have a tough time describing them, but if I had to try, I’d call them contemporary dancers who utilize glow sticks, black lights, and other props to tell a unique story. Sounded interesting enough, so Tara bought tickets. That’s when she discovered the show was in Salem, rather than Portland. Oops.
In the overall scheme of things, not a huge deal. Salem’s about an hour south of us. And it was a Saturday night. I decided to set aside my initial skepticism and embrace the evening as an adventure. Which is exactly how it turned out. We arrived in Salem around 5 PM, two and a half hours before showtime. But it was overcast, and the sun had already set. As much as we wanted to explore the city – I’ve only ever passed through a couple of times, usually on my way to the coast – we figured we wouldn’t have much of a chance at sightseeing. Until we found the state capitol building. Even though I’ve lived here almost exactly 19 years (tomorrow’s my anniversary), I had never even seen the building. Well, the way it was lit up after dark, with the sky a purple post-sunset glow, made it appear quite stunning. Check it out. (This photo is NOT touched up in any way – though it could be (and was for Instagram).
We wandered around the grounds for quite a while, stopping to check out a reflecting pool, a Walk of Flags, and a miniature version of the Liberty Bell. All quite impressive. Then we ducked into a Mexican restaurant and ordered margaritas to kill some time.Had a nice “adult” type chat with Audrey. (It’s still weird that I no longer see my kids every other week). Finally, we headed to the Elsinore Theater, an elegantly restored historic theater dating to 1926. It was beautiful inside, and the show itself was thrilling – an expertly choreographed three-act performance complete with intermissions and an orchestrated version of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.” I can’t say I’m a big dance fan, but this really grabbed my attention and held my interest. Tara was near tears, and Audrey was equally impressed. It turned out to be a real fun time. Afterwards, we stopped at Jack In The Box for a late night meal on the ride home. Audrey stayed the night. We had pumpkin pancakes and sausage for breakfast the next morning, hung out for a while afterwards, then I took her home. Watched the Broncos/Chiefs game in the evening. Made chicken tortilla soup. Our team won.
It was a nice weekend.