Assiniboine Park Pavilion

Assiniboine Park Pavilion

Assiniboine Park (built 1930). I’m not super crazy about this photo (I’ll get to that later), but I thought I’d post it as a springboard to a discussion about a topic that is about as divisive as any in photography: Photoshopping.

It’s no secret that I do a lot of Photoshopping. Every single image I post online goes through a bare minimum of cropping, levels and curves adjustments (ie; brightness and contrast) and at least some degree of colour and saturation tinkering.

But I often go further than that. I use the digital equivalent of dodging and burning to bring extra life to certain areas of a photo, and similarly use vignetting to draw the viewer’s eye into a photo. And I almost always do a basic clean-up of a scene, removing cigarette butts and other clutter.

I’ll often go further, using a variety of processing and cross-processing techniques to dramatically alter the colour of a photo, often breathing new life into an otherwise muted and dull palette. Often times I’ll see the finished version/colour palette in my head before I’ve taken the photo.

Even further is the ever contentious use of HDR (high dynamic range) techniques. I used to be admittedly hooked on HDR. I use it sparingly these days, partly in effort to grow as a photographer, but also because of the often merciless criticism I’ve received for using it.

But it’s all good. My singular goal is to make interesting images, and I’ll do whatever I need to do to get there. I am not a photojournalist. I have no obligations to “tell the truth and nothing but the truth.”

But I do have rules, self imposed though they are. I never add elements to photos, like clouds into a bald sky or grass onto a barren field.

And that brings us to this photo. For this one, I went a lot farther than I usually do—mostly because I made the drive to the park and then stood there like an idiot for an hour waiting for some nice colour to show up in the sky.

See the little garden in the foreground of the photo? Well half of it is fake. Rather, half of it is a duplicate of the other half. One of the garden lights was burned out, so in order to preserve the symmetry of the photo (and to create the illusion that the park is always well maintained) I mirrored the half that was properly lit. I then spent a while trying to disguise my work by adding a leaf here; removing a flower there. Perfect symmetry would have been an obvious give-away. Additionally, only a couple of windows were illuminated so I added some light to some of the darkened windows.

When all was said and done, I realized I had crossed the line and exceeded my comfort level. For me, this image contains just too much fakery. 

Wow, I guess that was a long way of saying I cheated a bit on this one.

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