In the course of my six years as a journalist, I worked for three newspapers and a magazine. At two of those newspapers, I wrote a weekly opinion column. I know, I know… you’re shocked. The idea that Chelsea would have OPINIONS? Crazytown.
Anyway, sometimes the column was funny, sometimes it was serious. At my last newspaper position, I was the political reporter, and sometimes my column was an outlet to discuss the hilarious/sad/face-palm things I encountered throughout my reporting. But whatever I was tackling in that column, be it something as serious as the Right to Marry, as localized as road construction woes, or frivolous as bad hair days, I was always galvanized to keep going by the Letters to the Editor.
I like to think I’m still funny, even if I don’t necessarily get paid for that anymore. And while you’ll never see me tackle politics here on the blog, I still have well-articulated positions that I enjoy debating with friends and colleagues. And, still, I get letters to the “editor”. (photo editor. See what I did there?)
In the last six months or so, we’ve really honed in on our continued effort toward “less is more” in editing… with one exception. Sometimes, as a primarily natural light shooter, it takes some time and effort to meld a perfectly exposed subject with a brilliant sky. And we’ve decided as a team that for certain shots, that effort is just resoundingly worth it.
We’ve gotten lots of “letters to the editor” lately about these images, so I thought today, I’d share a few “before and after” shots with you!
As a matter of clarification, it is definitely the exception, not the rule, for a shot to get this kind of work. On the vast majority of our work, I’m happy with the shot the second that shutter clicks, and a basic tweak of contrast & brightness is all that’s needed to complete the piece of art. And not every shot with a brilliant sky needs editing, either… sometimes we’re working with the light in such a way that it’s possible to capture what we want in-camera… I like those times.
Additionally, I know that similar work can be accomplished using off-camera flash… Mack and I use such lighting sometimes. But as a matter of practice, we like to use minimal gear, and shoot using available light as much as possible.
Sometimes the work is obvious, and even expected… like what we did in Las Vegas:
Other times, the work is barely perceptible:
Our goal is always to make the world as presented in our photograph most closely resemble what we saw with our real eyes. Sometimes that’s at sunset…
Other times, it’s in the middle of the day…
Occasionally, the sky is only a small part of the image…
…while other times, the sky is the whole point behind the photograph.
Extra processing can be used to amp up the natural state of the sky, be it moody & stormy…
… or full of bright summer sun.
Sometimes we use a heavier hand in our editing to bring atmospheric feelings into an image even when the sky isn’t a huge part of the photograph…
… or isn’t part of the picture at all.
And sometimes, our best work takes place after dark, when we have to bring color & light back in using Off Camera flash & a little photoshop wizardry.
Ultimately, we’re photographers. We take our job very seriously, and it’s always our goal to “get it right” in camera. But at the same time, we won’t pass up a chance to create a work of art. In nearly every session and wedding, there’s a moment (sometimes more than one) that just screams to be elevated… to become something more than we could make it with just the camera. And a little elbow grease & some know-how take these images (which were already solid photographs), and turn them into captured slices of life that we hope our clients treasure for generations.