Nature never does the same thing twice. Thank Dog.
Become as obsessed with nature abstracts as I, and you'll thank your lucky stars for the no-filter-needed bounty!
I was excited to have a professional photographer "instructor" at a midtown photo club look at a handful of my nature abstracts.
I'd brought them in for critique. I was eager to learn. Then her expression clouded over with disapproval.
"We've seen this before, over and over," she displeasured, to me and the room full of other "students." Evidently, I was about to become the night's cautionary tale.
"What?" I looked more closely at the surreal image I'd presented first, wondering what I'd done so wrong in my processing.
"Over-filtering, over modifying an image to make it abstract and 'artsy.' Stop trying so hard," she added with a compassionate, patronizing pat to my arm. "Learn to get what you need from a shot straight out of the camera and it will have a natural impact, rather than one so affected like this."
"But--" I started to respond.
"Plus"--She removed her hand from my arm, sensing my intention to push back, verbally at least--"Then you won't have to spend hours in post, taking your image apart, reworking the pieces, and putting them back together again."
I actually stepped back at that.
If she'd slapped me, I wouldn't have felt more stunned at her assumptions and ignorance about what she was seeing.
"These ARE straight out of the camera," I assured her. "I maybe spent 20 minutes processing the entire series." I gave her and everyone else time to reconsider all 5 images. "And I used absolutely no filters at all. These are water reflections, taken at a high shutter speed with a telephoto lens fully extended to catch the current's being created by the wind.
A pregnant pause permeated the room.
"Well," she hedged, "these don't seem real. They're too affected to be visually pleasing."
"They're abstract." Like many of the other, extremely altered by post processing urban images she'd been gushing over for the last hour. "Nature abstracts, to be more specific. I work hard with the camera and lens to capture realistic images of how nature alters our reality on a daily basis. That's what I hope viewers see--and then look for themselves in their own lives."
"Well..." More silence as some of the other students stood and walked to the display board to take a closer look. "I guess don't really know anything about nature photography."
Of course, I kept that last comment to myself.
Of course, I'd lost all respect for the instructor who'd missed her chance to make her point.
She'd made an ill-informed assumption without first discussing the image with the artist.
She'd refused to engage. when the opportunity presented itself for her, even her, to perhaps learn something new.
That's ignorance, my friends. Not teaching.
I love nature photography in all its forms. And I love urban photography (and in particular urban abstracts).
And love to learn.
I'm grateful for post-processing filters that allow me more and more creative freedom each and every time I dive back into a new technique.
But I have no patience for anyone who thinks a less-than "realistic" nature image must have been carelessly over-processed. After all, we all know what nature looks like.
These pretty ladies are softer in focus. I've used NIK filters and Photoshop's smudge and blur tools to enhance the overall misty effect.
They're not sharp, so I must have meant for the capture to be "artistic," right?
Actually I was shooting from a distance with a Lensbaby, and the result was too soft out of the camera to do anything but making it more soft in post, so I worked with what I had.
While THIS image is pretty much exactly the way it was captured in-camera, except for the post work I did with shadows, highlights, and color.
This more abstract image is a truer reflection of nature.
I hope it inspires you to look more closely, the next time you're around water on a windy day.
And perhaps you, too, will consider shooting a few frames a bit differently than the rest ;o)