352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Choosing and Editing the Final Photographs
As you may have seen within the blog post dedicated to my fifth trip up to the Lake District (entitled “352MC Fifth Trip to the Lake District (Friday 3rd April – Monday 6th April 2015)”), I suggested that after this weekend, through the combination of images that I have achieved from this trip, as well as some of the photographs that I have created from previous trips, I personally thought that I had a selection of photographs that I could choose from in order to create a successful final piece that I will be proud of. This blog post has therefore been created in order to discuss the process of choosing and editing the final photographs, and the reasoning’s behind my selections.
To begin the editing process, the first stage that I underwent was looking through the Mamiya 7 contact sheets from each of the trips (as they held a greater photographic quality to the digital images I shot on the Canon 5D Mk II), taking my time to analyze them aesthetically, in order to select a photograph from each of the locations that best represented the landscape and the concept of the project. Although I originally thought that I wanted to try and choose an image that documented the precise location in which the past event within my memories occurred, after having a one-to-one tutorial with lecturer Caroline Molloy on the 29th April (please see the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 12 (One-to-One Tutorials with Emma Critchley, David Rule and Caroline Molloy)”), she suggested, instead of focusing primarily on the specific locations of the images, to choose the photographs that depict the overall area (where the memory took place) in an aesthetically beautiful way. After receiving this particular feedback, I then realized that, with the use of accompanying text within my final exhibition piece, this specific feature will obviously further enhance the contextualization of the image which, although it may not depict the precise location of the memories event, will be seen as relevant in the narrative that I discuss. Bearing all of this in mind, as I focused primarily on the aesthetics of the images, I also decided to choose the landscape images that portrayed slightly more “interesting” features or natural conditions that could then be used by the viewer to symbolize the overarching theme and narrative of the collection (for example, the inclusion of haze to suggest the fading of my personal memories).
Another piece of feedback that I gained from the numerous one-to-one tutorials on the 29th April, which I then applied to the selection of my images, was to not restrict my final collection to fit in with the controlled “middle-of-the-road” compositional technique I had focused on throughout the creation of my images. Although a majority of the photographs try to incorporate this technique in a more obvious way than others, it was suggested that, once again, I should focus on the aesthetics of the images rather than the technicalities. This has therefore meant that within my final selection of images (as you will see below), I have included a number of photographs that vary in how they depict this “middle-of-the-road” aesthetic. Making sure that the pathway was still a prominent, directional aspect of image (in order to represent the travelling towards a particular destination which could then be used to symbolize the fact that these particular pathways have triggered a psychological pathway to the recollection of my memories), similar to the second test-shoot I conducted in relation to the “middle-of-the-road” compositional technique (please see the blog post “352MC Test-Shoot Two – “Middle-of-the-Road” Compositional Technique with the Mamiya 7”), I also, however, decided to choose the images that balanced the focus between the path and the landscape, in order to enhance the specific locational aspect of the project (the Lake District), to further contextualize the viewers understanding of the project, without spelling it out to them.
As you will also see from the final images included below, as suggested throughout my research inspiration sections, (particularly the research found in the “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Locational Research” blog post), these selected images also depict the landscape in a documentarian, and topographic way. As previously suggested, I originally wanted to create landscape images in this particular way in order to veer away from the stereotypical landscape photography techniques that usually depict this particular landscape, in order to enhance the personal aspect of the project (i.e. this is a personal project, not a commercial one). However, after observing the final selection of images that I have chosen, I soon realized that this documentarian aesthetic could also be used to reference the way in which both my Grandpa and I experienced the landscape (due to the authentic ambience elicited), whilst also enhancing the exploration and “survey-like” methodology of the project (trying to find these particular locations that triggered the recollection of my past memories).
Bearing this in mind, after I had chosen the final selection of images that represented each of the specific locations in the Lake District, I then moved on to editing each of the photographs. Deciding that I didn’t want to edit the photographs too much, in order to keep the authentic and documentarian feel of the image, I simply began my editing by using the “spot remover” tool (in Photoshop), in order to remove any visible damages from the film (that could be seen when the image was at it’s full size), which had been picked up through the scanning process. Once this section of the editing was complete, I then, very briefly, decided to go over the image using both the “spot remover” and “patch” tools in order to remove any slight distracting aspects of the image (such as sunlight glare reflected from rocks) in order to make sure that most of the viewers attention is focused on the more important aspects of the image (both the path and the landscape). Following on from this, I then decided to edit both the exposure and colour of the images (using the “curves” and “colour balance” tools – as suggested in a Photoshop tutorial with assistant lecturer Emma Lambert, please see blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Equipment and Editing Software Research”) in order to enhance the natural beauty of the landscapes depicted. However, although I took time editing the colours within the images, I soon found that I only wanted to adjust them very briefly as, when looking at the edited scans of the negatives, I found that the soft, tonal colouring created by the particular colour film that I used, not only emphasized the landscapes impressive aesthetics, but that it could also be used to symbolize some of the more conceptual associations of the landscapes within this particular project (for example, soft colouring could be used to represent a purified love, enhancing the sentimental value of the project, whilst also providing a hazed colour that could be used to symbolize the fading memories). Once these editing aspects where complete, I then finished off the post-production of my images by using the “burn” tool in order to darken some areas of the image to enhance their dominance within the landscape, without affecting the softness of the colour.
After I had completed this section of the editing process, I then decided to have a look through all six of these locational images in order to see if they worked well as a collection. Whilst reviewing these photos, I soon noticed that a majority of them appeared to contain similar aesthetics in terms of weather conditions, lighting, colour, and tones, (thus creating similar conceptual atmospheres), enabling them to appear well balanced within a collection. However, as you will see from the “Edited Selection” gallery below, one of the photographs (“Latrigg”) greatly differentiates from these particular aesthetic and conceptual aspects (by appearing darker and more eerie due to the weather condition captured within the image), thus greatly affecting the consistency and successfulness of the collection. I have therefore decided to remove this image from my final FMP selection.
Edited Selection (including “Latrigg”):
After spending time carefully selecting and editing the final images for my FMP, the next stage of my projects development is to look through the final five photographs and choose the singular image that I will want to represent my collection within the Degree Show Exhibition (as I will most likely only be able to display one of my pieces due to spacing issues in the exhibition venues). When choosing this last photograph, I will therefore be taking into account the aesthetic quality of the image, the atmosphere that it elicits, the strength of the memory associated with the location, and whether this image successfully encapsulates the concept and narrative behind the whole of my collection. Once I have decided these aspects, I then plan on discussing my options with both my course peers and my lecturers before moving on to finalize the presentation method I will be using within the exhibition.