“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”  




Definition:  a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance

Creating beautiful photographic art isn’t as simple as taking your smartphone out and snapping a quick picture.  Regardless of what you’re using to take the shot, there is a lot of work needed when you get home to make the shot.  I thought that this image of a purple bearded iris would be a great way to illustrate the point.


On the day that I visited this particular garden I took a total of 551 shots.  This is not atypical for me, so if I go out just once a week I have a lot of fresh new material to work with.  Honestly there just aren’t enough hours in the day to sort through and identify the “keepers” and edit each one immediately.  This is why I always find it rewarding to revisit prior shoots to see what new gems I can find.  The shot we’re looking at today was taken over three months ago.   

When shooting in public gardens, your options are limited.  By that I mean you don’t get to walk in flower beds, pull weeds or deadhead flowers to get the perfect shot.  I took seven different shots of this iris and selected the one shown left to work on.  If you look at the lower edge of the photo, you’ll notice that I was not able to get a truly clean shot due to what was growing around this iris blossom.  You’ll also see that the background in the upper area is a bit messy.  Given the limits of what you can do in the field, you take the best shot you can and then post-process just as the great filmmakers do when you return home.  This is where the creative transformation process happens.


For this photo I used four different software apps that are part of my post-processing toolkit.  The two workhorses in my software toolkit are Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.  Every image gets a little love in Lightroom to make basic color and exposure corrections, and I also use this application to catalog the thousands of photos on my hard drive.  Although you can correct blemishes in Lightroom, I usually prefer doing this work using my tablet and pen in Photoshop.  In addition to removing the little white spots on the foreground petal, I also removed the dark stripe on the stem and the two pointy intrusions at the bottom.   

Once the cosmetics were handled, I moved on to making additional color enhancements in Topaz Studio 2 so that the fabulous complementary colors really pop.  I applied a background texture to the image in Photoshop so that now those distractions at the top and bottom are invisible.  I finished up with the fourth and final program, Color Efex Pro 4 to brighten the center of the image and darken the outer edges so you know exactly where I want you to look. 


I hope this post gives you a bit of insight into the editing or transformation process.  Does a photographer ever get a shot that is absolutely perfect in-camera?  Sure, it happens sometimes, but more often than not some post-processing is necessary.  I hope this post on the transformational value of post-processing provides a bit of insight into modern photographic techniques.