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Has it ever occurred to you that what we digital photographers are doing is still all new, fresh, and often uncharted territory?

Live Oak forest at Hollenbeck Canyon, near Jamul, San Diego County, CA. January 2013
Live Oak forest at Hollenbeck Canyon, near Jamul, San Diego County, CA. January 2013

We have processes and tools that no one had only 5 years ago. Modern sensors capture a staggering amount of detail in the brightest highlights and the deepest shadows (see image above – a single exposure, developed from raw data in Lightroom 4 and Color Efex Pro 4). We can manipulate a color’s hue, saturation and luminance with fine nuances, control over highlights and shadows are only a mouse click away, we can dodge and burn with some easy brush strokes, we can adjust our graduated filters in post and control not just the exposure, but saturation, clarity, color and a lot more with them. It’s incredible.

The finer details of photography and developing one’s own photos used to be a delicate darkroom science that required careful timing and handling of smelly chemicals. And how long was a landscape photographers formula “Fuji Velvia + ND-grad + Polarizer and be there” for a typical landscape photo?

Not anymore. Cameras have evolved, from devices that you attach a lens to and that hold some film, into precision instruments that are photon catchers par excellence. Releasing the shutter is not the end of the process today, but only an interim step (perhaps only the beginning to some, actually).

Maybe we should just begin to fully embrace it, instead of trying to apply “old school rules” to a new school process, no? And those who still judge the results by the tools involved should maybe get a little more enlightened, no? The audience doesn’t care how much or how little work went into the creation of an artwork… it’s only the photographers who get so obsessed about it. ;-)

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