Retouching images - when do you stop?
I am working on retouching an image and I am having a hard time deciding on when to stop. This particular image is a vast wide-open landscape of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and there is nothing to show scale or vastness...aside from my vehicle parked in an unobtrusive corner of the image.
When I made the image I originally included the vehicle to show a sense of scale, but now that I can retouch the print and eliminate the vehicle, I get a different sense of the landscape.
With the vehicle visible you do get an immediate, almost subliminal sense of scale, partly because you don't realize that it's there, but you do realize it's there and it gives the rest of the scene something to go off of.
With it gone, you get a different feel to the image, no sense of scale, a landscape that is void of anything to give it away and a sense of grandness that I feel when I am in that landscape.
Trouble is, I like both versions for different reasons.
So, I've been wondering what others have done, what their thought process is, and what you might have done when faced with similar retouching issues.
Note, this is NOT a journalistic project where 100% accuracy to the image is demanded, but it is a project I am working on to capture the feel and impression of an area rather than being faithful to the 'T' to the originally photographed scene.
Thanks for your comments.
Just shoot it again without the Rover
Yeah thanks. I knew you'd be a *big* help. Haha!
Actually you are one of the locals I want to run some prints by after I get a few more done. Dinner with you and Robert sometime maybe?
My approach is to do as little retouching as possible to be able to present a quality image. It is very easy to turn a great image into a plastic meaningless image by doing to much retouching to it. We see a lot of this since PS was created.
As with any image, the re-touching process should only be done to the point of balance and vision, if the car was in the image, then it should be in the image, I agree with the Tourist, if you want one without the car in the image, go back and get it, as much as people gripe about PS, you can accomplish the same amount of mess in the re-touching with a traditional means as you can with a computer.
That is part of the beauty of photography, not the shot you have already taken, but the next adventure to get the new shot..
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Retouch only as much as concience dictates. I know it is very hard not to contemplate retouching. Sometimes there is just too much in a picture and you wish you could just cut it out. But that is just showing off with your PS skills, of which I am limited. A much better strategy I like is to crop with your lens, not your scissors. But you could insert PS where scissors is and it would still be true. But you are in the unenviable position of being satisfied with either one. If you don't retouch, it will nag. If you do retouch, it will nag. And so on...
"But what is strength without a double share of wisdom." --John Milton
"Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn't really matter." --Unknown missionary
1) for myself, most often, the more abstract the landscape image is the better, so I wouldn't stop at retouching until I achieved that result (assuming it was even possible).
2) for most of my own work I have absolutely no reverence to depict a scene as it was, only to interpret it as I feel, hopefully making a good image in the process.
Retouching for me is only another process in addition to the original composition, exposure and such towards a final print. Albeit I am typically lazy and strive to make images that require no darkroom skills. Doesn't happen very often, but I don't like to rely on post exposure skills to make a good print, while at the same time I don't avoid them when they are appropriate.
National Sarcasm Society
(like we need your support)
Since journalistic accuracy isn't an issue, why not feel free to retouch as much as you want? My feeling is that an image loses it's value when it starts looking like it's been retouched or altered. Until then, retouch as much as you'd like to improve the artistic quality!
Last edited by BrianShaw; 01-08-2006 at 10:55 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Thanks for all the input and comments. They are all valid and are making me think (which is good).
This is a location which I will return to repeatedly. I think I'll stick with the image I have, and next time remember to park the vehicle a little farther away. Hehe.
The challenge to NOT retouch is a hard one IMO.
I think that more than the retouching argument or question, this has turned (for me at least), into a more general discussion about landscape and scale. Most landscapes have an element that the viewer can relate to and judge scale from. Some landscapes benefit from not having anything in the image to give it scale, and some landscapes benefit from it being there.
I think that this question might be one that needs to be solved by myself for myself (which ultimately isn't it how it's supposed to work?), but I wanted to get the opinions of those I respect on this site and see what other input there could be.
The image in question is one of the Spiral Jetty on the Great Salt Lake. Both versions of the image are posted here:
The unretouched version:
http://tawayama.com/GSLPS/SpiralJettyPanovehicleinfra (dot) jpg
The retouched version:
http://tawayama.com/GSLPS/SpiralJettynovehicle (dot) jpg
The effect is very subtle, but for me the difference is tremendous.
Hopefully adding visuals will make my query more understandable.
Thanks again for those who have offered comments. I appreciate them.