For me, real photography is all about moments, memories and emotions. We use our cameras to capture the moment, but we use our edits and our memory to share with others how it made us feel.
Cameras are incredible tools but they don’t have feelings, and I think this is the fine line between a snapshot and a photograph. Quite simply:
It’s up to us as photographers to put the emotion into our photos.
This photo was taken right after I surfaced from my third scuba dive of the day of the coast of Phuket, Thailand. I was tired both mentally and physically but it was a great day out in the water.
When I surfaced the waves were gentle and bobbed me and my inflated jacket around like a cork.
It was a serene, quiet and reflective moment that I wanted to remember and share. I still had my Canon S120 in its underwater housing strapped to my wrist, so I switched it on and tried to keep my hands steady as the waves gently rocked me around.
For the curious here’s some technical bits about the image:
- ISO 80
- 1/1000 Sec
- CR2 Raw file
Tweaking The Photograph In Adobe Lightroom
I actually left it in my image library for a while, not recognising it’s potential, when one day I was browsing through my images and came across it again. I was instantly back there in the water; calm, tired and happy. I had remembered how I had felt and wanted to put that feeling back into the photo.
Here is the edited photo in Lightroom surrounded by other shots from the day:
The first thing to do was to put some of the life back into the photo; you can see from the Lightroom histogram below that the photo is missing out on shadow and highlights.
I quickly made some adjustments to bring them back which made the histogram look like this:
With the tweaks made the image now had much more life in it, take a look:
Editing The Photograph In The EyeEm App
As always when I edit with the EyeEm app, I start by trying out my favourite filters: Fresh 1, 2, and 3. I like my photos to pop with colour and contrast and the Fresh filters are great for this. For this photo I settled on Fresh 2 at +5.
I liked the soft, calm look of the photo but I wanted to emphasise some of the waves and add a bit of separation, so I added Sharpen +2.
One of my main adjustments when I’m editing in Eyeem is Exposure.
Pro-tip: When editing your photos always adjust your screen to its brightest setting.
I wanted this photo to be calm without being too in-your-face so I dropped the Exposure to -2.
I then adjusted the Highlights to +1 to take the edge off the brightest parts of the photo. I didn’t want any big distractions, just calming shades of blue.
The Fresh filters are really great starting points for your images and building on them is easy. Mine was a touch too colourful so I also brought the Saturation down -1.
To finish off the shot I added +1 to the Contrast and to the Fade. I like using both of these tools together because, although they may seem like they are opposites, I find that they can actually complement each other. I use Contrast to boost definition while using Fade to mute the overall image.
And that’s it!
Let’s compare; here’s the photo after it was tweaked in Lightroom but before it was edited with the EyeEm app:
And here it is after editing with the EyeEm app:
Finally, here’s the original photo straight from the camera compared with the final photograph:
It really is all about the edit – the edit is the story, the emotion, and the meat to the photos bones. But this is just my opinion, so what does real photography mean to you? Let me know in the comments below.