This week I found myself missing Italy, and thinking fondly of last year's trip to photograph Carnival. It didn't help that Facebook has reminded me daily of the photos I posted last year, or that I have so many friends who made the pilgrimage this past weekend. Bu looking through those photos I came across a great photographic "miss" that had little to do with Carnival. You see, one of the perils of travel photography is that sometimes you find the right shot at the wrong time of day. Nothing ruins a photo faster than the bright mid-day sun washing out every facet of detail in your sky. But what's a photographer to do when I photo just doesn't work?
Most days I consider myself a photographer, rather than an artist. The punchline is that I do post-process almost every photo I post. But I rarely have the confidence to cross that line to artistry. That self-identity is one I'm striving to change. The photos you see here are rarely the work of the camera alone. They involve a myriad of decisions on my part to decide what parts I want to expose to you as a viewer. I think about color, I consider minor alterations in the composition, I even try to make sure the light directs your eye to just the right spot in the photo. It is a labor of love that allows me to exercise creative muscles I used to forget I had. And by golly, that makes me an artist too.
Viewing yourself as an artist rather than "just a photographer" gives you a certain degree of leniency. And sometimes that leniency is just what you need to save a photo that might otherwise end up in the rubbish pile. Sure, you can go through all the hassles of a sky replacement. That's a fine artistic solution. But getting the lighting in the sky to match the lighting in the body of your photo requires lots of work--particularly if shadows are at play. So I've made the decision to embrace textures.
The beauty of textures is that they can add realism to a photo just as easily as they add fantasy. I find it fascinating that many textures actually harken back to the days before digital was king. A bit of a frame here, an imagined light leak there, then just a touch of ilford-like photo grain to finish the job. I've played with textures in using Mextures for about a year now. But as you can see from the photo above, I've not brought that play into my workflow for more serious photos. Is my first attempt perfect? No. There is lots of room to improve. But I think it saved a ho-hum photo from my rubbish bin. Here is the before and after if you'd like to see for yourself.