It’s Friday, so M and I want to advocate, once again, for being professional with your photography and editing it. In order to be more forceful and consistent in our advocacy, we’ve started a new event we’re calling the Friday Fix Your Shit post (#FixYourShizz) on Twitter. Now we know there are purists among you who worship at the temple of Henri Cartier-Bresson (HCB) and believe that “pure” photography is never cropped or edited.
HCB didn’t believe in editing because 1) he was a lazy sod who never learned proper editing techniques, 2) editing tools when you’re limited to dodging or burning in (with paper or cardboard cutouts) and chemicals sucks, and 3) he actually tried to get his shot right the first time. But mostly #1. We’re probably not going to convince you that you should turn your rubbish shot into a work of art overnight, but let us assure you of this: if the composition is good, irrespective of the technical aspects of the photo, the end-product will be good with proper editing. No, I’m not talking about Photoshopping the snap into oblivion or HDRarting the shit out of it. (I personally hate both Photoshop and HDR.) I’m talking about using normal photo editing tools. The edit above took me all of five minutes, including cropping it and deciding among various edits.
Indeed, the most advanced thing I ever use is Aperture, and that’s only for spot-fixing blemishes, or burning-in and dodging in spots much as I used to do in the darkroom (except that now I’m not contemplating suicide while doing so.) For most things, I use the Google Nik Collection, which are now not only free, but the most awesomest photo tools I’ve ever had. They are so good, in fact, that I was willing to violate English grammar rules to describe them for you. How awesome is that?
Don’t believe me? Well, take a look for yourself at some Friday Fix Your Shit examples. This week features renown New York City photographer Ken Stein, who was rambling the streets in the 80s as a teenager, shooting the heck out of the place. Cool photography. No, literally. The tones are waaaay too cool, and could have been fixed easily. So, let’s do our Friday Fix, shall we? Now, it’s important to note that none of these Friday Fixes takes more than Fixty Seconds. I would have added that to the title, but Friday Fix Your Shit in Fifty Seconds takes too long to type, and I’m kind of lazy.
Now, I’m almost certain that my fix won’t look exactly like yours might or how Ken himself would have edited the shots, and that’s okay. Bruce Davidson shot subways in NYC around that time and went for editing high in vignetting, contrast, and boosted color. It worked for him, being a color-rich version of Robert Frank, but it’s not my aesthetic. And that is the point of editing, to take a raw photo and turn it into a personal art piece. If you aren’t doing that, then you are simply a button pusher, a robotic extension of the camera. That is not your intention, is it?
I thought not.
The edits above went quickly (and look like my editing style) because I used presets I developed on Nik tools. Nik calls them “recipes” and for these I used ones I’ve set up for ‘washed-out’ shots. And, so you don’t think I’m trying to pick on or make other photographers look bad, here’s a shot of mine that I recently edited. The original was okay, but the camera’s jpeg didn’t show the details that existed, so I boosted the tonal contrasts to do so. I think it’s better, and that’s all that matters.
Fifty seconds. Worth the time, no?
8 thoughts on “The “Friday Fix Your Sh*t” Post”
Very cool. Great post, and great edits. 🙂
Thanks, love, and thank for reblogging this. 🙂
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Reblogged this on Phi.
I edit everything I photograph, but because my eyesight is not what is was, and what appears on one screen might be different on another I never know if my edits are the same for me as for others.
I muck about solely in Word and paint because I am too lazy to learn other stuff and paranoid about downloading programs in case of viruses.
It has become a minor obsession as I have had goodness knows how many hiccups of one type or another.
I love editing all my old photographs from my Olympus Trip and OM10 days. The ones I have now committed to hard drive have all been enhanced one way or another and are a zillion times better as far as I am concerned, and this is without including any mention of the fun one can have with all the contrast and colour tweaks.
I always mentally refer to the movie Blow Up where Hemmingway’s character spends hours in the dark room enlarging shot after shot until he is able to see the body lying on the grass and the assassin in the bushes.
If this were shot today I wonder what they would use to fill out the time after one simple digital enlarge and crop!
I have mentioned before I admire certain techniques you use in your photography and how some of the shots look almost as if they have been painted. Three cheers for digital and editing.
After all, it is art and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
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The main reason I recommended Nik tools is because they’re free and all of the other ones I’ve used are difficult to use and not very rewarding. Still, these do have an investment in terms of learning curve. I feel like I’m really just starting to get good at editing and being able to see what should be done to a photo to bring out what I saw when I took it. The camera often makes a scene look different than it does in real life, so I adjust it.
The Nik tools set has an easy-to-use HDR tool, so you can create some painting-like photos if you like.
By the way, I loved those scenes in Blow-up. I agree, though, it wouldn’t be as good a movie in digital. The guy enlarges it once, and there it is. I guess we’d have to write in a computer virus that keeps him from seeing the images and he spends hours trying to recover the disk. (sigh)
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Shiiiit man, I started blogging a week ago and the hardest thing for me so far is finding interesting blogs to follow, and this one is really great. I also wanted to say something else, but I forgot what it was.
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Bez, welcome and thanks for your comment. We’re trying to make the site interesting, as we both love photography, art, and writing. If you have any ideas, we’re open to them. We’re going to start writing more about composition soon.
Yeah, cool, if I’ll have some ideas I’ll suggest. I would love to see your site getting even better!