This is our 40-year-old Bradford Pear. Isn't it gorgeous? It's so beautiful when it's blooming, and the glossy leaves are lovely all summer. In the fall, it turns bright shades of apricot, red, yellow, and burgundy, and holds onto its colorful leaves late into the fall, sometimes even into early winter. This photograph was enhanced - I adjusted the contrast since the blooms hardly even showed up at all in the undoctored original. Forget about trying to capture the blossoms on a sunny day regardless of any photoshop enhancements. They show up just fine through my naked eye, whether it's cloudy or sunny, just not so great either way through the lens of my camera. I also got close on purpose so you can't really tell just how gangly this tree really is. Bradford Pears do not retain their lovely youthful shape as they get old.
There are several other even worse examples in our 40-year-old subdivision of just how un-graceful this tree becomes with age. No, it's not horrible, but this is how this tree really looks at the top - nothing like a shapely 10 year old, is it? It's not cheating to post the above picture on my blog since I'm also showing you the unadorned reality of it's gangly shape, right? But what if I didn't tell you I enhanced the contrast and what if I let you think this tree was less awkward-looking than it really is? What if I didn't want the slantiness of this tree to become the focus of my photo? What if I just wanted to share the loveliness of this blossoming tree? What if I told you Bradford Pears don't age gracefully but still didn't show the stark reality?
There's a thought-provoking post on My Skinny Garden today about enhancing or altering blog photos. My comment became a post, as I didn't want to monopolize so much space in the comment section. I do have a tendency to go on and on (in case you haven't noticed by now.) If you don't believe me, just ask my dear husband!
I make an effort not to be too controversial on my blog, and I hope no one is offended by what I have to say on this subject.
The way I see it, photography is an art. There are all different skill levels, as in any other art.
Artists throughout the ages have captured images in oils, water colors, stone, clay, and countless other mediums. Sometimes the rendition is true to the actual object being captured in the medium. On the other hand, many, if not most artists take many 'liberties' in interpreting what they see. That's what makes it art, at least to me.
I happen to have a pretty nice digital camera with many optional settings. It works much like a traditional 35 mm, only with even more possible settings. There are also different lenses I can purchase, although I have only the standard one that came with the camera.
I haven't taken the time to learn how to take the best advantage of the camera, and even my old 35 mm is an automatic. I consider my photography skills to be very basic. I wouldn't consider a photographer with a camera like mine who knows how to use it properly and can afford all the optional lenses to be cheating because they have advanced equipment and skills which enable them to capture their plants and gardens as they see them or as they would like to see them.
Is it cheating to cut out less attractive parts of the garden, or undeveloped parts of the garden? Is it cheating to preen a plant before taking pictures of it? Is it cheating to use optional lenses or make aperture, focus, zoom, or macro adjustments?
Any improvements I make to my photos are with the aim of improving my photos which aren't usually very good given my very basic photography skills. I often get the lighting wrong. Things come out blurry and are centered wrong. I don't try to make the garden or my plants look different than what they actually are. To the contrary, my photos usually pale in comparison to the subject and I do my best to bring the photos up to snuff to do justice to what I was photographing.
Photographing plants can be quite challenging and is an art unto itself. I prefer not to judge the art of others. I don't view blog photos with questions in my mind of what enhancements may or may not have been done. It's not my intention to judge others' opinions. We all have the right to choose our own criterion. As for me, I enjoy good art and good photography, and am not offended by enhancements, don't choose which enhancements by others I think are ok and which are cheating. For me to do so, I feel would be somewhat subjective and arbitrary.