Post processing - How much is too much?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by arcooke, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. arcooke

    arcooke TPF Noob!

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    There's this guy whose photography I really like. It's a style I'm after for myself, but something bugs me about it (seeing as how his work is an inspiration for me) and I'm not sure whether or not it should. Almost all of his photographs are heavily post processed. The majority of them are dark and gritty, desaturated, and high-contrast. The remainder of his photos are almost all black and white, which I've always thought was sort of a "get out of jail free" card, if you will. It seems like it's a lot easier to find art in B&W than it is in full color from my very limited experience.

    Is this a bad habit to get into, or does it just depend on the photographer and what he or she prefers?

    Here are a couple of his photographs:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Sure, they're great photos, but if someone were to come up to you and show you his own personal favorite collection.. would you be put off by every picture having the same style to it? Or, if someone were to come in here asking for a critique and posted a bunch of their photographs with same overall style, would you criticize that fact and suggest they try for a bit more variety? And what about for black and white? I personally love taking black and white photos, but I almost feel like I'm cheating sometimes because it's so much easier to take a good B&W.

    On one hand, every artist is entitled to his own style. On the other hand, making everything look the same might display a limit in the photographer's creativity.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks! :salute:
     
  2. reg

    reg TPF Noob!

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    In my opinion, as long as it isn't to the point of being UGLY, no amount is too much. I'd say those two photos aren't too much, as they're still aesthetically pleasing to me.

    I wouldn't do it to *Every* photo though, by no means. Also, re: B&W, let me remind you that black and white film came before color, so how can it be cheating to do B&W in digital?
     
  3. MarcusM

    MarcusM TPF Noob!

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    To be honest, the shots in and of themselves are not that spectacular. They're not bad, but I really hate the crop on the first, don't know if that's his original crop or if you re-cropped, but to crop someone across the middle of their eyes??

    The most intriguing part is the postwork IMO. If they didn't have the postwork I don't think I'd give them much thought.

    But regarding the shots all being similar, I don't think there is anything wrong with developing a similar style, but I would rather see different styles too, it just gets boring do the same thing over and over again with anything.
     
  4. arcooke

    arcooke TPF Noob!

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    I didn't go searching around for his best pictures, I just grabbed a couple that displayed the style he repeats in most of his shots.
     
  5. Samriel

    Samriel TPF Noob!

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    This is a question which has been bothering me for some time now, and I'm still not really sure what to think about it. Now I gather that the amount of PP depends entirely on your intent. Some people take photos with an intent of PPing them in a certain way (i.E. B&W etc.), some people use PP to 'save' the photo after it didn't meet the expectations of the photographer straight out of the camera. I believe that doing excessive PP can create a style, or even a trend, but if that is good or bad might depend on the field - you certainly don't want this kind of "over-PP" in photojournalism, while in art it might be appreciated (or not...). Are you looking for pure realism, or is PP a way to effectively communicate you message to the viewer?

    As to the B&W conversions, some months ago I too considered B&W conversions to be a "free ticket", but my opinion changed recently. You can make very excessively processed colour photos and they will look good, the advantage that B&W will have, especially when excessively processed, it will look more "real" since the colours will not give away the PP as much (especially to the laymen). However, making a really good B&W conversion is often not as easy as it seems.
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Personally I think the artist should feel free to do as they please whether that's sticking to a single style or wandering all over the place. I guarantee you that popular artist/photog business advice is to adopt a strong, easily identifiable style, and market yourself like a brand.

    How much processing is too much? That's an opinion that will vary from viewer to viewer. It's a matter of taste. The question should probably be "How much obvious processing/manipulation is too much?" as many photos that may not appear to be heavily manipulated certainly are.

    Unless you are entering contests with specific rules, or are submitting photos as photojournalism, there are no rules for art, therefore there is no cheating either.

    While it's possible that distracting colors or hideous light color casts can be "fixed" by converting to BW, chances are if the photo is no good in color it's not going to be much better in BW.
     

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