Opinions, Rules, and Editing

sunrise, avon, hatteras island, outer banks, atlantic ocean

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When I first fell in love with digital photography, I was thrilled to create images.  I found a scene that I appreciated, pressed the shutter button, printed the photograph, mounted it in a scrapbook or frame, and enjoyed it.  As I learned more and more about photography, I began to get concerned by opinions, bound by rules, lost in editing.   I exposed to the right so that I could capture as much detail as possible, forgetting the actual look of the exposed scene.  I edited for hours in Lightroom or Photoshop, trying to turn the image from what it was into what I thought others thought it should be, forgetting the true colors of the sunrise.  My love of photography started because I could literally record a moment.  I used to say that I didn't edit my images because I didn't want to change them.  In all honesty, I didn't edit my images then because I didn't know how.  But, now, I do.  And you know what?  I kind of want to get back to recording images as a moment, not as a sketch of something I could turn into artwork later.  Life is art.  Nature is art.  And while a few edits are necessary, and enhancements are wonderful, I want to leave behind a legacy of images that are clean depictions as the world as I know it.

The above image is essentially unedited.  I did remove a few dust spots from the sky and straightened my ever crooked horizon line.  But the colors are real, the exposure is what I saw that morning.  Yes, my highlights are blown.  But, they certainly were blown and blinding as I stood on the beach that morning watching the sun crest the horizon.  Some will say it's boring.  Some will criticize the placement of my horizon line.  Some could say I should have done __.  I could have sat at my computer and spent time adjusting the colors, lightening the shadows, darkening the highlights, playing with the contrast.  But instead, I chose to keep the photograph as close to the moment as possible.  This time when I found the scene, I metered and adjusted my settings, made a few basic edits, and enjoyed it.  After all, mine is the only opinion that matters and rules were made to be broken.


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Virginia Beach photographer Jennifer Carr is a landscape and portrait photographer currently scheduling senior, couples, and family portrait sessions and photography lessons in the Coastal Virginia Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk.  To purchase prints or schedule your portrait session, send an email to jcarr@jennifercarrphotography.com