Edited vs Unedited

As you can probably tell by looking through my blog, most of my photos are pretty heavily edited. I have a hard time really showing anyone my photos individually (hence, why I made this blog) because everyone has their "personal preference". Some people really hate the editing and some people really love it. It really just depends on your preference. It's funny because I know a few people who always think that there is a justified, "right" way of editing a photo or taking one for that matter. I call that "elitist" attitude. The fact is, it's really all subjective--as is with Art in general. Sure, there is a "right" way to do a photo composition and all that, but that's not what I'm about. I don't take photos and edit them because I'm trying to do it the "right" way. I enjoy editing my photos because I can control the 'atmosphere' and 'mood' of the photo to how I like it. With that said, I think with most photo-enthusiasts and photographers alike, whether a photo looks better "edited" or "unedited" has always been a heavy subject of debate. But I think it's important to shed light on the pros and cons of both forms.

First of all, the reason there is a 'debate' to begin with, is that a lot of photographers tend to think that if you have to heavily edit the shit out of your photos, your original photo probably sucks to begin with. It's the 'idea' that a good photograph will come out looking good as is, because the person who is taking the photograph probably has a good eye for composition.

Exhibit A: Here is a photo of a white flower that I took yesterday. At first glance, to the untrained eye, it probably looks pretty decent. But if you look at it for a little bit, you can start picking up a lot of flaws. For one, the photo is pretty dim. This was taken around 7pm, so it is naturally in kind of a dark and bad lighting. Secondly, this is a 'white' flower. White flowers are hard to capture in just one shot because details are easily lost in any kind of light. There's a few other little nitpicks that you can easily pick out, like how the flower doesn't seem to stand out much, probably because it's slightly out of focus.

Here's the flower edited with HDR toning so that it brings out the details of the pedals. Instantly, the photo looks much more detailed and interesting. It's a bit sharp in contrast, but it stands out. Now, some people might just leave it at this, risking backlash from those "elitists" I was talking about before. There's nothing "wrong" with this photo, because I'm sure you might be thinking "there is so much wrong with this photo, let me start counting off the ways", but the reality is, it's a 'style'. Is it "realistic"? No. So you should first ask yourself if that's what you're going for.

Personally, I'm not a fan of that look. I want my flower to look "realistic" here, so I edit it some more so that the pedals looks softer again, thus, making the image look a little more believable.

At this point, I just want to tweak the image so that it looks 'clean'. I added a little more 'warmth' to the flower, because naturally, the flower shouldn't look so pure 'white'. It's the subtle changes that really matter. Although it doesn't look like much has changed, if you look closer, you can tell that the background has less noise and the overall image looks a bit softer. 

Now, even still, some people could argue that the original photo looks better. And to that, I simply say, "to each his own...". 

So what is the point here? Sometimes you just take a really crappy photo! I mean, really. You have to consider the fact that not everyone is really a "photographer" just because they enjoy and like photography. You have to consider the fact that not everyone can take a really snazzy photo with just one shot. Sometimes, editing just makes the photo better because the original photo isn't that great. But the question here is, does that make that photo any better or worse than a really good non edited photo? 

I'm not trying to claim this is a "great" photo, right out of the camera, but I think it's kind of an interesting one. You want to pick out the thing that makes the photo most interesting. For me, it's the reflection of the Starbucks cup. Okay, so the photo composition is pretty good, but I for one can't stand the drab coloring and lighting. So then you focus on the most "interesting" part of the photo and try to enhance that and change the coloring to your liking.

This was a quick edit, just to get my point across....but I still want to point out some things that you can actually deem as "wrong" and needs fixing. For instance, the blue lighting behind the cup (which is actually the screen illumination from my Macbook) is having some posterization issues because I edited the color too much. But anyway, just putting that out there because THAT should not be that way and is not just a 'subjective' flaw. Anyway, see how the reflection of the cup looks a lot more 'moody'? It also gives the marble countertop a mysterious texture. Not much was edited besides the coloring and of course, brightening the cup so that the white looks crisp and sharp.

My point here? Sometimes you take an interesting photo with a good composition, but there really isn't much your camera can do for you in terms of the "color" and it just needs to be edited to give a better 'vibe'. The original photo may not be 'bad', but enhancing the colors on it can give it an even more interesting feel. 

For my last example, I want to show a photo that is completely unedited, straight out of the camera, that I thought was actually really good. The focused object is already so vibrant and colorful that it's not necessary to edit in any additional colors. The composition is interesting as it's taken from a very low angle. The background, although blurred, is also kind of interesting with its mini 'bokeh' effect. Lighting is not the 'best' as the day was gloomy and cloudless, but it kind of adds on to the 'feel' of the composition and it doesn't need much editing. This is a photo that I would not edit and leave as is. (huehue I made a pun)

HA! But I edited it anyway!! *evil laughter*
Which do you like better? 

My point here? Sometimes you have a good photo but you just want to edit it to your tastes. It doesn't always have to be about editing because you 'need' to, but sometimes it's just purely a "preference". As I stated at the very beginning, photography can be subjective, minus the technical stuff. 

So TL;DR, there is nothing wrong with editing a photograph, even if you edit it to oblivion, as long as you like it. Sure, it might be butt ugly to most people, but you know what, embrace what you create. 

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