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up for interpretation

I was lucky enough to get to spend the majority of my spring break on a beautiful, pristine, sunshiny beach at the tip of Baja, Mexico. It was heaven. Sifting through my images, all I see are blue blue skies, blue blue water and golden golden sand. With 99% sunshine, even the  sunsets are vibrant. Soft light on that beach was nearly non-existent. It was just the quality of how the light was; clean, bright, un-filtered. In a word, vibrant.

I'm not complaining. Not one single bit. But what I find curious is how I am chosing to interpret my vacation images. We had next to no internet access so there were only a very select number of images that would even load through my Instragram. Most of the them were shot or altered in a way that didn't showcase the blue blues or golden goldens. The first was shot upon arrival, near dark (which was the only time the light got soft). Another was captured upon waking; the soft, dreamy view from my bed in the morning. And my favorite was one of my daughter in the water, captured at the peak of bright, vibrant light and color (and yet, it's a black and white). Go figure.

As I mused on which image I would share today, I found this gem from my iPhone. The original was, of course, saturated with the bright blue sky and yet my choice was to dial it way down, to give it a vintage postcard feel (via Lightroom) which in other words means to interpret it in a totally different way than it came straight out of the camera.

As photographers, we are artists. And as artists we have the option to manipulate our images the way we want to. We can use our photo editing tools the same way painters use paint. We are the masters of our photographic vision. Personally, I don't know why I edit images like I do. I just do what feels right for each image and follow my creative bliss.

Have you ever thought about your process of processing? Do you use a heavy hand? Are you more subtle? Do you love acclassic black and white or SOOC? Share with us what you find and link to an image that shows off your favorite interpretation today.

Reader Comments (17)

Beautiful images. :-) For a very long time, I took a minimalistic approach to post-processing and I think there was even a part of me that felt it was somehow cheating to alter a photo too much. I have changed my tune in a big way and now consider photo editing to be a key element of my creative process.
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaryn
Depending upon the feel..the mood..the moment - sometimes I dial it down:
And other times - it's all about the color..and I love to saturate:
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcie
My processing can very so much at the moment, mostly because it is still fairly new to me. When I look through my processing, I have been a lover of block and white. This shot had a beautiful blue sky, but the shie came through better in black and white:
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGabriela
Up for interpretation today is my obsession with dandelions these past several weeks. I think I've photographed every way possible. :)
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdoris
This is such an interesting post - I've just been away and had a similar thing - whilst I was away I was really aware of the beautiful soft colours but having gone through my photos, that doesn't really stand out at all! This is the photo I shared today. I haven't done much to it but it really needed a warming filter.
Generally, I take a photo by photo approach to editing and it also depends what I want to achieve overall with the shot. I love the possibilities of post processing and think it's a great element of the creative process.
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBecs
your post really made me think, tracey.... i guess i am a kind of purist when it comes to post-processing.
what i try to do with my photography is focus on the extra in the ordinary....capturing unusual aspects of or within ordinary things or situations... this is what i consider my artistry, the talent that allows me to make the viewers of my images see the ordinary in a new and surprising way.
manipulating my images other than some cropping, straightening and minimal adjusting of hues, contrast and highlights somehow feels wrong for me. that's why i only use hipstamatic (which for me is a pre-processing tool) and non of the other photo-apps i have on my iPhone.
strangely enough i started off as a web designer, then turned to photoshop, creating new images (digital collages) by post-processing photographs, and now i have ended up here, using only my camera, my technical knowledge and my composition skills (which you have taught me a lot about, remember...:-()
for me this is the creative bliss i am following
on my daily practice blog i just posted this image of the sea at Kijkduin, near Den Haag. Everything was exactly the way it looks in the picture, the light, the hues, the lines, the silhouettes of the two people, my 'interpretation' or 'manipulation' lies solely in the way i framed the shot
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrakusribut
I love color and contrast, and when I shoot with my digital camera, I try dialing the color and contrast down in post processing, but I usually miss them so much that I bring them back, and I think you'll find my the majority of my flickr stream pops with color and is saturated as far it can be without losing detail. I think one thing in my processing that tends to tie my photos together is that I lean toward warm colors. I rarely go cool or muted or black-and-white unless the subject begs for it. All that being said, I am starting to use my film cameras more, and when a film photo starts out black and white or muted, so I don't see the color to begin with, I am really satisfied. So with digital, I process for pop, but I really enjoy a good b&w or muted photo, if I am not the one who has to remove the color.
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersuperdewa (Deirdre)
When I first began my journey with digital photography, I was determined to be a minimalist, sharpening a bit and tweaking exposure if needed (and it usually was!). As the journey progressed, I became seduced by the magic of post processing. That's not to say I do a lot of processing, sometimes more, sometimes less. I always let the photo tell me what to do. PSE is my tool of choice and these images were minimally processed:
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDotti
We have harsh light most of the time here in the desert too. I like it. I like dialing up the brightness of the colors even more in processing, because to me the desert is so vibrant and alive and I want people to see that the way I do. On our last roadtrip though, it overcast and the light was flat the whole time we were there. I was so disappointed, but I tried to do just minimal processing, just to try something different, and the photos came out good. You can still see the textures of the red rocks, which is one of the things I really love about this landscape. It's fun to try different things.
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
I'm so glad that you shared this post. For some time I felt bad that I post processed, like I was admitting that I couldn't take a good picture without adding a little something, But more recently I have come to embrace that fact that post processing allowed me to take the frame I chose to select and even more become the artist. I like the soft dreamy vintage look that others do so well, but no matter how often I try to imitate those, I always end up with something that has more pop. I've come to realize that while I like the vintage look, it's not my style. Personally, I'm glad there are so many different looks and feels out there.

I was in love with the deep blue skies the day I took this picture and, like you, was surprised when I ended up editing the blue right out of the scene. But no matter how much I tried to like the version that was more like the actual day, I loved the one below instead.
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeb
I love processing my photos after shooting them. To me, working in photoshop is like the digital version of working in a darkroom. I ALWAYS did something other than just a straight exposure when making prints in the darkroom, whether it was just a little dodging and burning or experimenting with ways to add texture during the exposure time. I like to play in photoshop too because I like my images to have just a little bit of pop. A little something special. I'm slowly starting to realize why I like doing this (might even write a blog post about it soon).
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie
I think about my processing all the time- always looking for new tips, new ways and new tools to hlep me get my artistic point across in my photos.
I realized that I don't have just one signature way of processing- I really try to match the mood that felt while shooting and go from there.
This is one of my most recent photos and I love the way it turned out- it really does match the mood I was after and how I saw the shot in my mind...
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentervanessa
All I have available to process are the tools on my Nikon, and they are somewhat limited, but I enjoy perfecting my images until the mood comes across how I want it.

This one was cropped, put in black and white, and everything except my toes was put out of focus.
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelsey

I'm always up for deepening hues of colors in my photos. I was lucky enough to capture this gem and didn't feel the need to edit it ;)
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Sutterfield
I have a budget camera and first started post-processing to "fix" my photos; now I process to try and achieve a certain feel; here's a before an after of a photo I took a couple of months ago:
after processing,
not sure I like one over the other, just two very different moods of the same shot.
April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGotta Run
I find myself gravitating to black/white and sepia tones for some of my favorite shots. Like this one of my two smallest nephews in the backyard on Easter.
April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPetinaHope
for a long time I didn't do much altering of my photos but now with so many fun photo apps like instagram and tiltshift, etc I enjoy playing around with it. Nothing professional for sure but it's fun to experiment.
April 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterspread your wings

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