Long Exposure #5 : To edit or not edit?

As mentioned in “What is a photographer?” and again in “Fiat Lux“, a photograph is a succession of steps.
Once your camera caught the scene the next step is to deliver it to your public, but before you do that you need to answer the question that haunts a lot of photographers: Should I edit this picture or post it “as shot”?
For some people, to not edit their shot is a credo: the shot is over as soon as you push your shutter. For others the push of the shutter button is just one of the many steps towards their final picture. For me editing is a way to bridge the gap to my ideal shot.
Below is a before (left) / after (right) shot I edited recently using Adobe Lightroom 4. I played with the colors and tones a bit in order to get a picture more vivid. Don’t you think the right one looks better? (for a look at the final result just click)

Bryce Canyon Before / After EditSome photographer have more restrictions than others. If you’re a photojournalist you will not be allowed to amend details that alter the meaning of the picture. It means that cropping might be allowed, contrasts and tones amended but you won’t be allowed to remove or add anything from your picture. I suggest you have a look at this article on Gizmodo to see how pictures were edited in the past.
Recently, I went with Celine on another roadtrip and our starting point was Las Vegas. We have been there several times but never really thought of capturing the Welcome sign. Unfortunately for us we just remembered it on our way to the airport, during our final day. If I were to be a purist, I might end up with the shot below.

The Las Vegas welcome sign unedited

I didn’t like much all the cables or some of the buildings but it’s not as if I could just go an bulldoze the buildings or cut the cables down. The sky was also pretty uniform as the sun was high in the sky. With Lightroom and Photoshop I was able to get the result below, with more textures in the sky and a dreamy effect, closer to what I’d like my shot to be.

Las Vegas Welcome Sign Edited with Photoshop and LightroomEditing is for me one more tool, a way to get more control on the final result but like a super power it must be used responsibly. One of my proudest edit is a very subtle one. People liked the shot below, but very few people know that it was one of my first edit (to see the original version just click the image).

Statue of Liberty editedIf you want to see what edit can do for you I suggest you read Mike Campau guest post on Scott Kelby’s site.

By Sebastien Grobelny

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