Many times I will be asked if I have "processed" or "Photoshopped" the photographs I make. The answer is yes, of course I do. I sometimes crop the image to emphasize the subject matter or the feeling I want to communicate in the photograph. I may lighten it or darken it to compensate for errors made in the original exposure, and I may add or reduce contrast - all to arrive at the image that communicates the feeling I had when I took the picture. And no, I don't replace skies or clone clouds or trees to add what wasn't there.
What's interesting is no one ever asks about the "pre processing" or the alterations of reality that happen before I press the shutter. The photographs in this blog post are colorful and symbolic of the height of autumn foliage - walking in forests of golden yellow light that you find in mid October. Yet, these photos were taken yesterday, late September, and where I live 95% of the leaves and trees are still very very green with only a hint of yellow starting to appear. And on this hike, the vast majority of the trees were green - except this one patch of about ten trees that were very yellow. So I positioned myself, zoomed the camera lense, and pointed the camera in a direction that created a photograph that both represents the reality of "what was there" but also something very different.
I think it's common for people to assume photos are "faked" today for two reasons. First, with technology it is very easy to fake images. But second, it's because we're all so busy and moving so fast that we don't see the details in the natural world around us. We don't see how the yellow light reflects off the water and how the rocks look blue because they are wet and reflecting the sky. We don't see the filtered golden light created by the sun shining through a canopy of yellow leaves. How many of you have seen the undersides of green leaves shimmering a silver color from the reflection of the sun off the flowing water in a stream. My daughter and I stared at this silvery color moving across the leaves until it felt like the trees were dancing around us. We only saw it because we slowed down and allowed ourselves to see what is really out there.
Autumn is a great time to get out in the natural world and slow down. Allow yourself to see what is really out there.