Interface Images
Landscape by Keith Ratcliffe  
© 2009

Photographer or Creative Artist

I recently decided to improve my understanding of how Photoshop could help me produce better results in my photography. My first stop was the Library – I learn well from reading and prefer the written page to web page for lasting absorption. I found an excellent book entitled “Layers – The complete guide to Photoshop’s most powerful feature” and duly trekked over to a Branch Library to borrow the said item.

Reading the book highlighted a particular aspect that was unexpected and interested me. The exercises in the book cover a range of techniques from Photo enhancement through to Creative Graphic Art and this led me to consider my position on this spectrum. Occasionally I play the game of randomly picking an image from the archives in order to do something different with it – this rarely satisfies because I still remember what I saw and no matter how much I try I can’t forget that as the most appropriate interpretation. What does give me great satisfaction is when I see a potential picture and work out how best to capture it and then process it on the computer so that  the final print does communicate what I saw that I wanted to share with others.

This leads me to conclude that for me at least the Creative moment is at the time that the shutter is pressed. The aim being to record the image as it was pre-visualised so that I can produce a lasting record of that moment and share it with others. I accept image manipulation to do this and I am quite happy to enhance pictures that fail to record the scene effectively because of the limitations of the camera in relation to the eye. I live with my limitations to successfully use the equipment and philosophically accept ‘Try again’ rather than ‘Put it right in Photoshop’.

I occasionally ‘see’ a monochrome scene and am quite happy to render it mono from colour capture (Though I do enjoy using Black & White film as well – I used to carry two cameras for this reason). I will even use tones to replicate a mood that was detected in a scene, but I baulk at extremes of posterisation or strange colour mixes that I often see in magazines and dubbed ‘Creative’.

Bedruthan Steps

A final thought here is prompted by my latest foray into HDR imagery (High Dynamic Range). This allows a closer rendition to what the eye sees and is to my view a valid photographic technique. So far, I have dabbled in this by using two images taken at different exposures then blended together in Photoshop but recently I went a little further. I downloaded a basic programme for performing HDR processes that combines several images to produce the richer range of luminance & tonal values that are seen by the human eye. It is a powerful technique with great potential for Creativity and although I enjoy looking at images in magazines that illustrate this I sit firmly on the Photographer end of the spectrum when it comes to my own use.

Keith Ratcliffe
February 2009

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