Tutorial seen on PhotoShopFrenzy.com
In the past years, we’ve gone through several trends in illustrated photography. First, there was the Fiscus look… then the Dave Hill look and the Dragan effect. Like an unstoppable tsunami, photo blogs and websites started to produce an incredible quantity of tutorials to try to explain in a mere few steps how one could achieve such a look not through research, trial and error and hard work, but by simply applying a recipe… the sadness. A bad picture, even sugar coated remains a bad picture. And do they really think that a photographic style resumes itself in a photoshop action?
But the worst was yet to come… the HDR trend! HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is meant to be used to expand the dynamic range in a scene that otherwise cannot be captured in a single exposure, by sandwiching several bracketed exposures of the scene, retaining details in both shadows and highlights. But it is most commonly used and refered to in Tutorials and Flickr pools as a cool way to raise contrast and colorize your images to give them that cool illustration look! Most of the time, it consists in a single exposure put through the conveyer belt of PhotoMatix. What comes out of the machine is what some people call hyper real photography. And too often, when people wanna go all out, it results in a big white hollow around the contrast lines, similar to what you get when you go overboard with the HighPass Filter!
For amateur photographers, these are cool gimmicks that will impress their friends. But anyone serious into pushing their photography forward, no matter the level of execution, should reconsider resorting to these magic tricks and rather try to come out with their own visual signature. Photography is a craft and should remain so. Emulation is great to learn the tricks of the trade, but copying someone else’s work will have you banished like the leper!
But first and foremost, do the dirty work and nail down your lighting! That will get your photography to new uncharted places. Then let photoshop bring your work up to your personal vision and interpretation of the scene. Innovate, don’t replicate!