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?