I was dissatisfied with the quality of pictures I had taken on Sunday. The point was to have gone and taken them, so on that level at least it was a success. However they did not convey the emotion or message that I required.
In order to retrieve them I needed to use Photoshop. They had been saved in RAW mode and it was the only way they were going to ever see the light of day. I said ‘no’ to all the messing on with hue and saturation and contrast. That was, in my mind, cheating. I should have taken a picture that was all that it could be without being ‘faked’.
Obviously in some contexts the use of software to produce something compelling and noteworthy is fine. And in fact, Mr Fowler produces some amazing artworks through taking that process of graphical manipulation to the extreme. I happen to think that what he produces sings a deep and voiceless melody. I may even have told him that.
And then it came back to me. Sitting developing prints in a darkroom as a kid. Where the amount of contrast and saturation and all sorts of other things could be affected through the development process. So the more ordinary tweaking of set pieces so that they are more like the vision in my head than the file on the screen is not cheating. It is acceptable technical adjustment. The structure and substance are already there. It is only the dressing of the bones that is altered.