How far is too far?

Today’s blog post is of a controversial nature. The topic is not religion (as may be alluded by the image below), but that of the arguable subject of image post-processing. There are countless debates on many photography forums on what is considered going too far with image manipulation. What makes up a great image? Should images remain untouched as they come straight out of the camera, or is some retouching allowed to overcome camera limitations? If you can retouch, how far can you go? Where does one draw the line? Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to any of these questions and from my reading there is a diversity of opinions. It is fair to say however that the vast majority of images we see daily in printed media undergo a fair bit of manipulation.

During my photo-walk in Prague late last month, I passed by the statue of Jesus on the cross (formally known as the Crucifix and the Calvary), towering to the side of the Charles Bridge. I was really impressed by the size and craftsmanship, but being a sunny afternoon, I was disappointed by the deep blue sky in the background. Nevertheless, I proceeded to take a picture like countless tourists had done before me. Next day, the weather took a turn for the worse, so while on another walk in a different part of the city, I decided to turn my camera towards the sky and take a picture of the bold clouds. Having in mind the statue’s picture from the previous day, my aim was to take an underexposed picture (to emphasize the boldness) but framed in such a way, so that if I were to replace the blue sky with the cloudy one, a break in the clouds would roughly appear just above Jesus’ head.

The result of this simple Photoshop manipulation is the picture below. I took it one extra step to brush in a beam of light rays from a Photoshop brush set created by Gavin Hoey – one of my favourite photography tutors. So what do you guys think – have I gone too far?

Jesus - 1920c

Jesus on the cross – taken with my Canon 60D and Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens at ISO 100, F11, 1/100 sec.
Clouds – taken with my Canon 60D and Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens at ISO 400, F8.0, 1/2500 sec.

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Interior Design Photography

Earlier this month I decided to venture into the unknown world of interior design photography. To this date I had never given this type of photography any thought, but the recent purchase of a new wide angle lens and my cousin’s request to assist him in building his portfolio, was all that was needed to convince me to give this a try.

With little understanding of the intricacies involved in this type of photography, I started first with some research online. I was  happy to easily find some good tips on equipment setup and even happier when I found a post processing workflow tutorial from a professional interior design photographer. At first it was disheartening to read about all the gear that pros use for such pictures – expensive full frame cameras, tilt-shift lenses, multiple external light diffusers and beauty dishes. Nevertheless, I decided to use natural light as my ally (as well as light from the light fixtures installed) along with my trusted gear (tripod, levels and remote triggers).

The result of this first attempt is the dining room picture below. I am fairly happy with the result and so is my cousin – the latter party not always easily pleased when it comes to art!
Dining Room - 1920c
Shot with my tripod-mounted Canon 60D and Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens at ISO 100, F8.0, 0.8 secs, bracketed at -2/0/+2.

Autumn in Prague

From a photographer’s perspective, Autumn is undoubtedly the best season of the year, with the vibrant colours of the falling leaves, and the bold cloudy skies ever so abundant. One of the things I truly miss about living in Canada was being able to distinctly experience each and every season of the year (and Fall in particular). A testament to this is the 30C weather we had yesterday in Nicosia, and my plans for going to the beach this weekend (no complaints there!).

Last weekend I found myself in Prague for a short 4-day visit. With my camera in hand, I decided to take a long walk to experience this truly beautiful city. This is my second visit to the Mother of Cities (as it is often called), the first being in the middle of a harsh Winter almost 18 years ago. Luckily the weather this time around was excellent, allowing me to enjoy the various sites this city has to offer.

The picture below was taken from a small park just to the west of the famous Charles Bridge.

Prague fall - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens at ISO 400, F11 @ 1/200 sec.