Quirks and Foibles

Jailhouse Clean-up

I admit to having my share of photographic quirks.

The first: I like things to be square, to be lined up with sharp right angles – vertical and horizontal lines within the image must line up with the edges of the frame. Correcting for perspective distortion is a requirement for me. As you can see in the original photograph below, the metal pole and other verticals in this image were straightened in reference to the frame edges.

But satisfying my need for the perpendicular seems like a fairly “normal” quirk.

I also have this strong compulsion to clean up dirt in my images – and I’m not talking about sensor dust. I know, I know – it doesn’t make much sense when the image is of a crumbling, disintegrating historic prison – where rust and peeling paint rule the day.

If you look closely at the “before” image below, you can see that I painstakingly cloned out the tiny rocks and random specks on the concrete floor. I know their presence is true to the environment and the conditions. I just can’t ignore it – for me, it ruins the shot.

Same with signs or litter or other similar elements.

I understand this is a symptom of my perfectionism and my need to control my environment. To have the world fit my vision of the way things should be. And the contrast of the extreme rusty disintegration with a cleaned-up concrete floor is, perhaps, disconcerting.

But I accept this as one of my foibles – as one of the peculiarities that make me and my images unique.

So what about you – do you have any photographic quirks?

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Posted on May 23, 2013, in Photoshop and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Brenda, thanks for sharing that you “swept” that old prison floor in post-processing! I have a similar quirk of wanting perfection in my images, but then I argue with myself about whether it’s “right” to correct some defect in a subject. Should I create what I wish was there, or show the reality of what I saw? An example is my blog post “The Long Way Home.” A couple of images have an obtrusive telephone pole in the background. I know the view would be improved by removing the poles, but in the end I left them because that’s the reality of where I live. The fact that I thought of that example immediately shows that the debate is still ongoing. And those poles still bother me!

    • Lee – as you can probably tell, I have absolutely NO qualms about removing telephone poles – and have done it any number of times. Obviously, this is a debate that each of us has to resolve for ourselves – and there is certainly no right or wrong answer. But I say we should create the image that we want – whether that is SOOC or the creatively “doctored” version that satisfies our eye. After all, the viewer won’t know either way – unless we are in confession mode and show the before and after, as I did here. Therefore, the final product is all they will see – so shouldn’t that product be the one that makes us happy?

      As far as your pesky telephone poles – you certainly should know what I would advise 🙂

  2. You must have a very clean house, Brenda! I do see the improvement in your “swept” image, and prefer it. Yes, there is quite a debate among photographers about SOOC vs. processing. I don’t see the point of being a purist. I lean toward cropping and brightening, but I have to admit that I get excited when a wonderful image appears just right as is. The perspective distortion bothers me sometimes — I think I need to work on it, thanks for the link to your post.

    • Gina – if only I could clean my house with a few swipes of the mouse – now THAT would be an amazing technological advance! And I would classify my house as “neat” as opposed to “clean” – I much prefer cleaning images than my house.

      I am the opposite of a purist – I’m disappointed when an image doesn’t need any post-processing enhancements 😉 For me, the image is merely the starting point and post-processing is where all the fun is at. But the important thing is that we each adopt the approach that works best for us and enjoy the work of those who take the opposite viewpoint.

  3. I would not use the word foible for your artistic habits as there is nothing wrong with them. I am much the same–I like my lines to be lined up and use Correct Camera Distortion, or Skew for architectural subjects. I also clone out any imperfections or dirt on my flowers, and in other images. The clone tool is one of my favorites.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Anita – I guess I thought of them more as eccentricities – thinking I was the only one who felt these need to “clean up” my images in this way. I am certainly glad to know that I have good company in this regard. And yes, the perspective crop and clone tools are my “go-to” Photoshop tools.

  4. I know that when we were there looking at these tiny cells I found myself wondering if the people in them could see much, if any, sunlight. When I see the shadow on that “swept” floor, it makes me think of how precious that light is in such a dismal place.

    Personally I like things to be aligned straight in my images. And I do like to crop them if it helps draw the eye to the subject. I don’t often add a lot of other processing. However, I have had fun recently with my camera on my phone and a free app that lets me play a bit.

    Your work, dear friend, is always beautifully done and enhances any image that you choose to share with us.

    • Deb – yes, standing there by those cells with the sunlight striking the floor, you have to wonder whether that light would be a despairing reminder of all they were missing or a sign of hope.

      I think we have to find our own personal waterline as to how much post-processing works for us. One way isn’t any better or worse than the other – they are simply poles on a creative continuum – one that allows us to express our own personal vision.

  5. When I first became serious about photography, I thought my images should be perfect right out of the camera with no post-processing. As you can imagine most of the time, I was disappointed with most of them. Then, I learned a little post-processing could certainly help me out. I regularly straighten, contrast, and yes, I clone! I clone out bits of dirt off mushrooms or flowers, clone out light poles and recently cloned out our well-house, because it just looked ugly in the picture!! I love the beautiful image you create with post-processing!

    • Cathy – I think there is a certain amount of pressure to get everything perfect in camera which certainly sets us up for major disappointment. And it is also true that post-processing can’t rescue a bad photograph. I just think we should do as much or as little post-processing as we want in order to achieve our personal vision – and not feel we have to apologize for it. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only “dirt-cleaner” 🙂

  6. I agree with you about the beneficial effects of post-processing. For this image in particular, the image cleaning removed those bits and pieces debris that might have distracted the viewer. You’ve once again managed to inspire as I’m not always inclined to go through the steps you (and other commenters) describe, but I will certainly consider these ideas for some of my own images.

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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