this is an uncomfortable photo.
it’s off-center. it’s dark and ominous — the sky is black. you know the clouds are moving, passing you by, but you don’t know which direction you’re going or what’s on your own path…you’re staring at the sky rather than what’s ahead of you, after all. nothing is quite in focus, but nothing is so out of focus that you can ignore it. there’s shiny metal siding stuck next to brick, and there are pipes and boxes and cutouts that you don’t understand. none of this is comforting.
and none of this sentiment was in my mind when i first snapped the shutter. i don’t want to show you the original shot because it would forever ruin the sentiment of this version, but for me, knowing what i do about this photo’s journey, i can’t help but smile at the power of post-processing.
some photographers, such as the great henri cartier-bresson, scorn or ignore the editing process. cartier-bresson would argue that “the picture is good or not from the moment it was caught in the camera.” i’m not even in the same universe as cartier-bresson, so i don’t feel qualified to disagree, but for me the post-processing is almost as exciting as the initial shooting.
when you snap the shutter, the data has been collected, but the image has not yet been created. in my mind, the post-processing allows us to leverage the data in a way that gives us the image we desire. the above image may have been conceived with the snapping of the shutter, but it was born when i took to the digital darkroom to play with my software. photographers often lament about missing the shot when the moment passes them by, but i think we also miss shots when we fail to explore the processing options at our disposal after we snapped the shutter.