A post-processing dilemma. When “too much” actually looks pretty great.

In Migrate, The Creative Process by Chris FoleyLeave a Comment

 
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Some of you might feel that this is quite overcooked. Others may like it a lot. I've received a lot of very positive reviews and I've sold this print and handful of times as well. It's been received quite well by photographers and civilians alike.

I feel that it's terribly over-processed.

The gritty, textured result is not devoid of visual interest and I feel that it accurately captures the FEEL of the location even if it's not visually true to the scene.. But, come on - it's a bit overdramatic. It's as though this image is throwing a tantrum.

Additionally, I edited this using the old NIK Collection plugin bundle (ye olde timers will know what that is.) This is the version before Google bought it and incorporated it into Snapseed. Point being that I honestly couldn't reproduce it again if I tried to - at least not in the same way, which is the way of that NIK Collection bundle. It's destructive editing and didn't even take advantage of the raw files; you had to export a TIFF to the NIK interface and then apply your filters over there, like an animal.

I decided tonight to go back to the original DNG file and have a fresh crack at it, and here's what it looks like with my current approach to editing.

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Well then. When compared side by side, the second image is quite boring, visually. I mean, all of the components are there; you've got the yellow cab and the subway smokestack that all but pinpoint your location. For God's sake you've got a sign that straight tells you where you are. You have a man and a woman moving through your scene and both strike compelling figures. The moving cab is reflecting the smokestack in the front passenger window. The voyeur in me enjoys being able to see into that apartment window. There's a lot to like here, but this version doesn't stand a chance when viewed next to the terribly over-spiced version above. But this one is accurate to what the scene felt like on that night.

So here's the question: how much editing is too much editing?

This is a conversation that's been coming up with some frequency in my photography community in one form or another and I think it's a very good conversation to have. Most opinions vary, and frankly, I've love to hear your take on this. How much editing is too much editing. Incidentally, here's what what the image looked like, straight out of camera with no presets applied to it at all. This is what the sensor saw with only a generic color profile added to it in order to display the raw file as a jpg.

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Details:
Fujifilm X-E2, 18-15mm f/2.8-f/4 kit lens. (really good kit lens)
48mm - 1/55 sec @ f/4, ISO 3200

 
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