Saturday, June 27, 2015

Virtual Photography

Keeping in the spirit of the last post, which focused on simulation, I thought I would say a few words about, what I call, ‘virtual photography’.

In today’s digital world, other than a few who still use ‘wet techniques’, the image is not made until we have finally ‘processed’ things in, say, Lightroom or Photoshop. There is, of course, a true final step, the ‘presentation’, eg online or on paper; but ignoring this for now, many photographers create their art in a computer, and most images stay there.

The statistics are clear. With digital we tend to ‘over capture’. That is the ratio of the number of images we present to the number of images we capture is small, ie 1 to 10 or 1 to 100 or more.

So what about all those ‘lost’ images? The ones that never get presented, at least to others. Like me, you most probably leave them on your hard drive: or should I say, your backed-up hard drive ;-)

To me, those images are not lost and this is where, what I call, ‘virtual photography’ comes in.

Virtual photography is simply photography without capture. That is trawling back through our old images, especially the ‘lost’ ones, and carrying out a virtual photography shoot. Or, in the extreme, one could imagine ‘using’ somebody else’s RAW captures (with approval, of course).

The process is simple: on a rainy day, say, when we are locked indoors; it is a simple matter to open up an old photo shoot in Lightroom and revisit those old raw images. Because of the power of LR, it is best to create virtual copies, say in a collection, and reset the exposures to their captures state: this way your mind is reset and not influenced by previous processing.

The first task is to re-envisage the image, ie a radically different crop for a different interpretation. Also, since you first looked at your old/lost images, there is a good chance you have new tools now, for example the new dehaze tool in LR & PS.

So, without leaving the comfort of your dry home, you can carry out a virtual photo shoot and use these ‘new’ images with some of your new tools, and your enhanced skills (since you first looked at the captured images).

As an example, this evening I was trawling through some old images of The Cobb at Lyme Regis Harbour.

The harbour at Lyme Regis is called the Cobb, although no satisfactory explanation of the name exists. The harbour has served as a refuge in Lyme Regis since at least 1313.

These two daytime images were captured with my Sony A6000 through a varable ND Throttle. Both exposures are ISO 100 at 30 seconds. These two images are different to my original processed versions, not only in their vision, but also because I used different post processing techniques, eg the dehaze.

In conclusion, in addition to ‘simulation’, which helps us in our planning; we should also recognise ‘virtual photography’ as a 21st Century form of photography, ie photography without (re)capturing an image.

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