Why I do What I do!


Most have been accepting, some have even been complimentary, of my need to enhance these clear blue skies of the southwest. My wife has recently taken the credit for opening up my eyes, helping me to see the beauty of a cloud littered sky. To keep the peace I have deleted any images of such skies prior to our having met and married.

Gotta keep the peace.

As for a visual presentation of why I do what I do, below is a shot of a mountain top in Zion National Park during golden hour one fine late autumn afternoon.


Below is how I saw it!


‘Nuff said?

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 Over on Facebook, Terri  Buckner says of someone else’s work (not mine) that “…I generally don’t like heavily photoshopped shots. For me, photography is a documentary art and too much editing overshadows the reality.”  Well, we would have to first argue her terms and I doubt I have the intellectual prowess to do so. But in their own ways, didn’t cinematography and even painting begin as documentary arts? Did they not evolve into  fine arts? Did Gauguin, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, ever worry about overshadowing the reality? For that matter, did Adams, Cartier-Bresson, Arbus, ever get into the darkroom and simply develop their images without dodging and or burning? Maybe Ben or Joe or Cybele can argue these points one way or the other better than me.

My head is hurting now. 


37 thoughts on “Why I do What I do!

  1. i know the dilemma- i shoot a lot in the south west (i have a holiday home there) and those endless blue skies are all the same 🙂
    i actually don’t have strong feelings about putting some clouds in, though if i do spend time on sky it is usually to change my dull guernsey guernsey skies.
    it is quite literally a matter of taste, and they are YOUR shots.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think the argument seems to persist because people like me feel we have to justify our creative work. And I think that is the crux of the matter right there. You can not be sensitive or allow your insecurity to show when posting any kind of creative work. Just take the good with the bad- and believe only half of either!


  2. Photography is a fickle medium; on one hand people believe that what the camera sees is true and on the other people want to see beautiful pictures. The truth is that what the camera photographs is already a lie. The chosen settings can erase moving people or blur them out of the shot, the chosen lens can reduce and widen the field of view excluding or including more than one believes can be seen and the chosen medium, be it colour or black and white (even down to stock), can manipulate the emotions one is going to have viewing a picture. This is before we have entered a darkroom, traditional or digital.
    In one sense I can agree with Terri, pictures that look overly photoshopped don’t look good, usually too contrasted and over saturated, IMHO. Yet the art of a well processed image is that you don’t know that it has been processed. When people cry photoshop and many times are wrong, I had this with a moon rise photo on Facebook (accusation was retracted when I processed the raw file). I would add even in my middle school photo class they said Ansel Adams Photoshopped one of his images, when I showed it as part of a presentation
    With Emilio adding skies, this is his memory of what he saw (so why not). I would only add my two cents if the sky takes away from the subject itself and this is the art of adding skies to a picture, getting the right balance.


    1. Ben, I think you have the luckiest students in the world. You have mentioned in the past that you didn’t like the addition of clouds to one of my skies because it took away from the subject. And maybe that’s what this Terri on Facebook was saying in part. Yes, if you are working as a documentary photographer then you should not be manipulating photos. That would be like telling everyone you are black when in truth you are white. Simple deception. (Not sure if you get this allusion as it is a story in the U.S. papers that recently broke. If you need clarification, please ask.) Anyway, I appreciate your taking the time to respond.


  3. The clouds do add a punch to the otherwise good photo. So, the results speak for themselves. We do have this issue in the Army though. As a matter of fact, we cannot Photoshop anything in a military photo outside of brightness and contrast for fear of people saying it was “altered” and mistrusting us. However, that is more of a “news” format that Associate Press journalists deal with as well. Not exactly the same in this case of tweaking your own photos for display/sale…unless of course you are doing some weather “report” picture update.


    1. Well, yeah, come to think of it, the weather was unbearably warm that day.I was bundled up against it with thermal underwear, a knitted cap, down jacket, and gloves. My hands froze whenever I removed the gloves to snap away. That weather in Zion is crazy! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes the sky is washed out, and you have to enhance in PS to get what you actually saw. That’s the way I view editing sometimes. The camera does not record what we see, so we need to edit a little to get that back. Or, we can edit a lot and create something much more artistic.


    1. I think I’m on the edge of trying to keep any additions more or less “real”. And then there’s the edge that wants to increase my skills to create something even a bit more off the wall..


    1. I’m not sure I could change her mind. And as I think more about it, she may have a point. I am so tired of viewing over saturated, almost neon colored, images on 500 px. I want more realism. With fake clouds! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My only question to you….are you making a photo for a historic and documentary purpose (i.e. for a crime scene or arson). Anyhow, you are the artist and photographer, you can do what you choose to do. Do what feels right for you. I’ve changed over the years. I post process more than I used. But for me personally I still like it to look clear and sharp because that is just my taste. I’m not a soft focus type of person in anything I do. 😀 Just have fun and be true to yourself and what feels right for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cee, I’m not sure I could ever shoot a crime scene or arson. OK, maybe arson as I love fire. (I’m not sure that came out right. I love a contained fire- as in a fireplace or outdoor fire pit). But I constantly have this visionof witnessing or coming across a major accident and I have my camera. What do I do? Shoot? Or attend to the hurt and suffering. I think I know the choice I would make, and never regret it!


  6. Hey Emilio! It’s been awhile but I’ll add to the discussion. There are in fact different groups of landscape photographers. Or different styles, whichever way you want to look at it. On one end there are your purists who want to edit only to portray what was seen. On the other end are your more creative types that only take photos as a mean to create art. One can like the other’s work while not wanting to create it. Some are so restricted to thinking only how they process that every other way is wrong. We do have the freedom of expression which by rights gives us the ability to express ourselves. In this case I’m strictly speaking photography. There is technically no wrong way of doing things, just different ways of doing it. I myself started off on the more purist end of the spectrum and quickly found I was quite bored with photography with this approach. I then started down the route of being more creative and artistic but still keep somewhat in the realm of realistic. I will alter photos in a way of changing perspective on how the lights and shadows look within the photo and will through over and under exposing areas and cloning remove items, but I don’t add items. Mostly because I just use LR and you can’t work with layers, otherwise I probably would. For other’s work I always let it speak for itself. If I feel that it is visually appealing then I choose to like it. It’s my right. And for those who don’t like my work, I don’t care, I like it and that’s all that matters to me. It’s my hobby and I’ll do what I want with it to make me happy. Anyways, for what it’s worth, I like your processing style and I think it’s what makes you unique. Without that uniqueness you are just another lost sheep in the flock.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So I’m a found sheep in the flock? 🙂 See, this is exactly what I need, confirmation that there is not just one way to do something. And I have to shake this insecurity and declare, like you, “…for those who don’t like my work, I don’t care, I like it and that’s all that matters to me. It’s my hobby and I’ll do what I want with it to make me happy.” I’ll tell you, right now I am happy. With your comment as well as with all others. Thank you all. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t have a problem with processing per se. I have a problem with processing that leaves artifacts, grain, color distortion, and generally doesn’t look as good as the original image. Sky is particularly tricky. Of all the things I wrestle with in my photography, it’s keeping sky from pixelating and tiling. On the other hand, to contradict myself, I enjoy messing around with special effects to create things that could never exist — as long as you don’t try to pretend that’s how it really looked.


  8. I understand where you are coming from. There are the purists who spend hours just trying to get the one perfect shot without the need for cropping and editing. But where is the fun in that. It is your vision that you are showing. So what if you have edited them. If you didn’t tell us that you had added a sky we wouldn’t have known. And I totally agree that even the late great photographers would have done a lot of dodging and burning in the dark room.
    Great shot, either way.


  9. This post and the resulting comment section was just what I needed, Emilio! Sometimes I feel as if I’m not knowledgeable enough about photography to participate in these types of discussions, and of course, I’m missing out on a lot of learning from all of you because of the campaign. This comment thread though, reminded me that we all have opinions and styles and motives and visions. Whether to document or to create, it’s really what pleases us, isn’t it?
    Enough babbling … the enhanced photo is great!


  10. Clouds are interesting and I’m a fan of them (that’s where my head is most of the time… others might say it’s somewhere else, but I’m not writing where, haha.) Photography is art and the art is in both visualizing the subject of the photo (this I can do decently at times) and the other part is enhancing the photo so it matches the idea in your head (I cannot do this!).

    Liked by 1 person

"I take anything other than 'you big pig!' as a compliment." ~ Albert Brooks

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