I don’t wan’t to shoot what it looks like, I want to shoot what it feels like…

Day 207

One of the very first things I did when I decided to begin this project was research how the Professionals get their pictures to look so, well, Professional.  How do they take an ordinary moment, object, individual, and create a compelling photograph that you want to look at over and over again. I found a wide variety of opinions, articles, blogs, and webinars dedicated to the topic and I poured over as many as I could.  The reality is that while I will admit to seeing improvement in my photographs now in comparison to say, my day 20 photos, I still think that some of my average photos could be much, much better and create more feeling if I just tweaked a few little things…

Enter editing software.  A highly controversial way to achieve amazing results and something that “purists” (I am not) regard with disdain.  Whatever your thoughts on the matter I wanted to see what I could do with some of my earlier photos to “spruce them up” a bit in post-processing. (And yes I chose today to do this because I don’t like any of the pics I took today).

I love Union Station, the history, the architecture, for me it’s a must visit every time I’m downtown.  They have a coffee & tea shop with amazing sweet treats and the ambiance is other-worldly.  The first picture below is the original shot I captured on day 54 complete with holiday decorations and the shot that follows is my new final product with edits completed in Silver Efex Pro 2.

Union Station - Denver, CO
Union Station – Denver, CO

And the new version complete with black & white conversion and edits:

"Union Station, Denver, CO, with edits"

There’s nothing wrong with the original shot but with corrections done to remove chromatic aberrations, some light increase in structure and minor adjustments to the leveling I think the final product is by far a higher caliber of photograph and something that is much more in line with what I was going for the first time.

The second photo chosen for editing is one of my most favorites.  While wandering around 16th Street Mall last year I found a pianist, classical trained, brilliant, homeless, yet still joyfully playing on one of the Downtown Denver Partnership’s pianos.  He graciously allowed me to photograph him and I only stopped so I could enjoy his playing without distraction.  I love the photo, the memory, the colors, it was one of those moments you don’t forget, but I couldn’t help but think the photo could and should have been better.

The first pic is the original:

"The Pianist"

The version below includes edits made in Color Efex Pro 4 and I love the new version.  It’s more vibrant, has more depth, is more interesting and I think is a much better rendition of what was already a pretty cool pic.

Piano Man 12-1

My final shot up for edits is of the Stanley hotel in Estes Park, CO and is another favorite of mine.  Probably because it’s my first attempt at HDR Photography, and because it’s a stunning place to go for a visit.

Here’s the original:


Below is the edited version, again, a richer version that I prefer probably because it feels more ominous and maybe a bit scarier:

"The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO with edits"

Someday I really hope that my photos won’t require much editing, that I will compose my shots correctly every time, always know how to use light properly, and be much more dialed in on the little details I sometimes overlook today, but until then I am pretty happy that I have Photoshop, Elements, and a whole mess of other tools to help me create art that, someday soon, I hope is good enough to hang on a wall…

“Be kind to your photographer.  The power of editing is in their hands…” unknown

7 thoughts on “I don’t wan’t to shoot what it looks like, I want to shoot what it feels like…

  1. Mom

    I loved the original photos but the edited ones are stunning too – especially union station
    But then I am a black and white fan


  2. janelily7

    The comparisons are both lovely photos but I’m also favoring the black and white. What is it called when you make the photograph look …sharp?


  3. mbfitzmahan

    Nice work. I love the investigation into how to use post-production tweaks to improve photos. Your before and afters are captivating. My favorite was the black and white building. The sky is particularly beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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