Now that Adobe has officially announced Lightroom Verison 1.0 (see the next post down), I’ve just finished wrapping up my new book, “The Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers“, which has the exact same layout and style as my “Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers,” where it takes you through the whole process step-by-step, from importing, thru sorting, developing your raw, JPEG, and TIFF images, all the way through printing the final image (and there’s an entire section just on using Lightroom with Photoshop; where Photoshop fits it, and when and where to use it).
NOTE: If you purchased the pre-release eBook version of this book (the online downloadable PDF version, based on the public Beta release of Lightroom), you’ll be happy to know that I basically rewrote the entire book from scratch for this final print edition, with all new content, photos, new chapters. What I’m most excited about are the last two chapters, which I added for the print version, which take you step-by-step through two real working photography projects; a wedding shoot (where we start with a live bridal portrait shot on location at the church) and it takes you through the entire process, including importing, sorting, the inital client presentation in your studio, having the client proof shots online, all the way to actually printing the final 16×20 formal print for framing. The second chapter follows a different step-by-step workflow, from the live shoot to print, of a outdoor/landscape photo shoot. This two chapters pull it all together in a way I’ve never seen illustrated like this before,and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Also, I’m doing something completely different next week, as I’m teaching a two-day hands-on Lightroom Workshop at the Digital Technology Centre in Sarasota, Flordia, and if you want to learn the future of the professional digital photography workflow, I hope you’ll join me (the class is limited to 20 people, and there are just a few seats left). You can find out more, and reserve your spot by CLICKING HERE. I hope to see you there! (By the way, if you sign-up for my workshop, make sure you bring your camera, because this is totally hands-on, and we’ll be doing the whole process live, from capture to output).
I don’t know if you saw this one, but it’s an article about how the Reuters New Agency has issued a set of official guidelines for how Photoshop can be used in Photo Journalistic work done for their agency. Fascinating times we live in, eh? Read the article by clicking here.
15 Years Of Retouching and My “Over Retouching” Story
When I started photography 15 years ago, what attracted me to it at first was the post-processing process. I remember seeing some super strong HDR photos that I was in complete admiration of, hoping that one day I would be able to pull that off.
So I started photography using Photomatix and doing lots of HDR. I felt like a kid that was given a toy. And like any kid, I played with the latest toys until I got bored with it
I loved doing this kind of photography. But there was just one thing that bothered me. The first reaction I was always got was, “Did you use Photoshop?” All because I used a post processing software. It sort of meant to me that I was not any more a legit photographer, but more like a graphic designer.
At first this did not bother me. But after years and years of getting this reaction, I started getting a little tired of it.
In 2010 I went to Photoshop World for the first time in Las Vegas and discovered the work of Peter Lik. I was absolutely in admiration of his photography and the size of the gallery in the Mandalay Bay Hotel. I did some research on him and discovered that he had several galleries on his own. Since then, I visited the one in Soho New York and Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles (which is now closed). I spent hour observing the reactions of the public in the gallery.
What surprised me the most is that the public usually reacted with, “Wow! What a beautiful beach, what a great city,” etc… there was no mention of Photoshop.
It was clear to me that there was some serious post processing done on his photos. But it was good processing. Processing that made the photos very dramatic but with a natural flair.
I then realized that there were several issues in my photos.
It started back in college when I was taking drafting and civil engineering classes in hopes of transferring to an architecture program somewhere. That’s not where I discovered I was horrible at math, but that’s where it really started to annoy me. So, I jumped to graphic design, where I excelled. The rest is history, well, not exactly.
While a creative director for a couple of ad agencies and companies over the years, I still loved buildings. It wasn’t until I got deeper into photography that I realized I could merge my love for buildings and my love for photography. So, I did.
I started small by going around photographing buildings to put together some sort of a portfolio. That allowed me to show an acquaintance, who was the new business coordinator for an architectural firm, some of the images I was taking. She hired me for one job, then two. Then she left for another firm. See where I’m going here?
Now I had two clients, then three. But my biggest break came when I did something out of the norm. This was the turning point for my career.
Pause for a moment, and try this thought experiment. Imagine your perfect vacation. It could be anywhere in the world, doing anything you choose, for one week. There is a catch, however. You will not be allowed to take any photographs or make any entries in a journal during your vacation, and at the end you will be given a potion that will erase all memories of the wonderful experiences you enjoyed. How much would you pay for such a vacation, in comparison to what you would pay for a vacation you could remember?
If you are like me, my wife, and our two adult daughters, nothing. To us, and to most people, the most wonderful experiences have little or no value if we cannot remember them. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman points out in his excellent book Thinking: Fast and Slow that we seem to have two selves, an experiencing self and a remembering self, whose needs and wants are not always congruent. As Kahneman puts it, “The experiencing self is the one that answers the question: ‘Does it hurt now?’ The remembering self is the one that answers the question: ‘How was it, on the whole?’ Memories are all we get to keep from our experience of living, and the only perspective that we can adopt as we think about our lives is therefore that of the remembering self.” He goes on to say, “The experiencing self does not have a voice. The remembering self is sometimes wrong, but it is the one that keeps score and governs what we learn from living, and it is the one that makes decisions. What we learn from the past is to maximize the qualities of our future memories, not necessarily of our future experience. This is the tyranny of the remembering self.”
Our remembering self tends to value an episode not by the duration of pleasurable and painful periods, but by the peak intensity of the good or bad feeling and by the feeling we experience at the end of the episode. Kahneman calls this “duration neglect” and the “peak-end rule.” We remember the peak moments of a vacation and its ending rather than an average of all the moments. Our average experience, even on a vacation we remember as great, may in fact be rather boring.
Does this help explain the almost universal fascination with photography? Kahneman writes, “The frenetic picture-taking of many tourists suggests that storing memories is often an important goal, which shapes both the plans for the vacation and the experience of it. The photographer does not view the scene as a moment to be savored but as a future memory to be designed. Pictures may be useful to the remembering self—though we rarely look at them for very long, or as often as we expected, or even at all—but picture taking is not necessarily the best way for the tourist’s experiencing self to enjoy a view.”
Kahneman’s insight also helps explain why landscape photographers who wish to evoke emotion in their viewers must work so hard to capture extraordinary and often fleeting moments. Capturing what tourists actually see during their vacation is useless, since that is not what tourists remember. Few tourists witness sunrise at a backcountry lake several miles from the trailhead. At best, they glimpse some colorful clouds from their hotel window. But it is the photograph of sunrise at the backcountry lake that will trigger pleasurable memories of their vacation, not the photo taken at 12 noon, when most tourists actually arrive at their destination. It is as if the colorful clouds glimpsed from their hotel at dawn become merged in their memory with the beautiful lake they saw in noon light.
I have often noted that the act of photographing a beautiful sunrise dulls my appreciation of the moment while I am experiencing it because I am so focused on the technical and aesthetic challenge of making a compelling image—yet the photographs I make strongly enhance my ability to remember and enjoy the experience later. I almost enjoy the shoot more after it’s over, as I view my photographs, than I enjoyed it at the time.
Is this a bad trade-off? Is Kahneman correct when he writes, “Odd as it may seem, I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me”? If so, then photography, with its ability to capture a moment and hold it still forever, can indeed enrich our lives. But I still have a disturbing feeling that spending one’s life doing nothing but accumulating memories, to be enjoyed in a future that may never come, leaves out something important. We are often advised by pop psychologists to “live in the moment,” as if that was somehow the secret of happiness. Perhaps someday I will become so fluent with the language of light and composition that the act of photographing will feel effortless, like a Zen archer drawing and releasing his bow, totally at one with his target. Until then, I will continue to struggle with the uneasy choice between experiencing a moment and creating a photographic memory of it.