The Processing Woods

By Sunday, March 3, 2013grafphoto
beach leaf and sand picture

Beach leaf and sand, the result of a lot of wandering!

I have a quite a few images in my archives that have been just sitting around collecting dust for awhile until I spend some time and figure out “what they want to be” as I wrote in my last post.   That process is often quite similar to a walk in the woods with no particular destination in mind.   I have taken many of these walks in search of the photographs to start with, and as we know, sometimes you come home with something, other times it is a bust.   As much as I hate to admit it, not every picture has some grand vision right from the start.

Many times I will just find some elements in nature that are visually interesting, but in review at home, the photograph as a whole just isn’t exciting me. Those images get filed away for another day perhaps when I want to go for a walk in the processing woods.   Sometimes, just with the passing of time, it is quite clear the path I want to follow.   Then there are those times when I just start wandering about.

Layers of LE9712

The image here was one of those times.   I liked the visual elements in this image, but the raw file was rather flat.   I ventured into monochrome with it, and while I liked some variants, I was still luke warm to that being the final resting spot.   I went back to the color path, trying out some filters, different layers to enhance the elements I enjoyed most about the scene to start with.   Each step I find things I like, and move past what I don’t.  In this particular case, I suppose I wandered deeper than I had planned on for this type of image.  The layers just kept building up, which on a D800 file, the file size starts to get quite big as well.

I suppose this is not the most efficient approach to processing an image.  I imagine a lot of photographers have a very specific path they like to follow.   But my goal here was not efficiency, it was exploration.   I don’t do this for every image, there are just some that I feel need more exploration than others.  Each step intrinsically giving me little hints about where this might end up.  I would hit a dead end, turn around, and go down a different path.

Did I end up ultimately where this image “wants to be?”   Maybe, maybe not – it is perhaps not a route some would take, but it is the one I took.   I certainly like it a lot better than the original file, so that made the journey worthwhile for me.  What I do know is that I found a path worth exploring, and like exploring the real world woods, sometimes you just have to get lost a little to discover new destinations.



Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • My images need to sit and cure a bit before I am ready to dive in and process lol !!

  • Enjoyed reading about your process. I’m always amused and encouraged by your admissions of mistakes, imperfections, confusion, being lost, all the real challenges that we creative people face. I don’t get nearly as much out of posts that profess to have the world by the tail. This photograph strikes a chord with me. I like the grit and the composition out of something without the right combination of factors and your energy might not be photographically interesting on first glance, but that you make sing by the time you’re done.

  • Earl says:

    It’s often “muddy” between what the image wants to be and what we as the photographer believe it should be. Sometimes the image “gels” naturally, sometimes it takes waiting and patients and sometimes we need to make our peace with it never happening. But even in the failure of our vision to solidify there can be much learned through our creative endeavors. Lovely image, Mark!

    • Mark says:

      We are definitely on the same page here Earl. This is why I used an analogy to a walk in the woods. The old adage of how sometimes the journey is more rewarding than the destination certainly finds a place here.

  • Paul says:

    I think that exploration works. I find that, when I try to make something happen, or I have a particular visiont for something, it just doesn’t seem to want to be what I want it to be. So, sometimes, I must be patient and wait to find out what it wants to be. Like you, I just have to wait. Often, I forget about image and then discover it sometime later. Those are nice surprises.

  • I glad you took the walk through the processing woods as I like what you found. And, there is nothing wrong with exploring!

  • ken bello says:

    I’m glad you went the extra mile on this one as the results certainly prove worthwhile. Sometimes the photo just need the right finesse in order to reach it’s full potential.

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