Image editing

How often do you feel disappointed with your underwater pictures?
Maybe wondered: am I or the camera to blame?
You are not alone!
After 40 years on the job, I still feel disappointed each time I first see a
roll of newly developed film...
But I trust my own eyes more than I trust the ability of the film to render my visual impressions correctly.
And I have found tricks to MAKE my images show what I have REALLY seen.

So – what does the underwater world look likereally??

Perches in lake Largen by Norrtälje – is their rightful appearance
this... ... or this?
The "snow blizzard" of backscatter in the background is inevitable. Use of a flashgun is necessary. The greenish haze of the foreground in just as inevitable. The water itself is green and hazy. But the "raw scan" to the left gives a poor rendition of what I remember from the dive. In the computer I have restored the image to conform with my visual impression when the picture was taken.

Red Sea coral reefs outside Hurghada – is their rightful appearance
this... ... or this?
Although I used a flashgun, the corals of the foreground were rendered pale blue on the original slide. The flash had no chance to dominate over the strong blue natural light. How many of your pictures from dive trips to tropical waters are similar to the one above left? How do you remember the colours of a coral reeftop?

Some waters are awful for a photographer. Baby trout in Skräbe river – is their rightful appearance
this... ... or this?
At such short distance only strobelight exposed the film. But the light from the flashgun was filtered through half a meter of hazy green-yellowish river water. With results accordingly. My original slides (left) were considered useless for many years. Until I got a computer with scanner and image editing software.

Is it "cheating" to edit images this way?
In my opinion – a resounding NO!

I have added nothing to the images that wasn't there from the beginning. I have neither moved nor taken away anything – except dust on the slide and the white dots from the backscattered flashlight. So what have I done?

First, I have carefully balanced the colours in the image relative to each other. Old photographers call it "to correct colour casts". In the digital world (video and still images alike) the expression is "white balance". Then I have amplified already existing colours ("increased the colour saturation") until the appearance of the image is in accordance with my memory from the moment I exposed the film.

Colour film as well as digital cameras have their serious faults. But both are made for taking pictures in air!! The computer editing software helps me to compensate for those faults. I restore the images to the appearance they should have had from the beginning...

The job may seem tedious. And slow. Usually I spend one full hour per image before the result is satisfactory.

I can help you to reach similar results
with your images!

Option 1: you send me your images (colour slides or negatives. NOT prints!).
I scan them, edit them and return the results on CD and/or printed on paper. This is not a cheap method. One full hour per image... what do you charge per hour?

Option 2: You have access to scanner, computer and software. I will be your teacher on a seminar or a workshop. You and your friends learn the tricks. And share the costs...

Of course, the same principles apply also to images from digital cameras.

Some thoughts from an aging photographer:

In the old days of black&white-only photography, no professional photographer worth his salt would ever dream of sending a b&w negative to an editor or a picture agency. No. He went to his darkroom, put the negative into the enlarger and produced the best photographic print he knew how to do. The right grade paper, the right developer, a little shading here, a little extra burning there, maybe a mask for the highlights or shadows... Making a good print from a negative might very well take an hour or more, and require several failed attempts.

With the advent of colour film (reversal and negative), very few photographers had the skills or capacity to master the necessary darkroom techniques. Instead, they were obliged to send their precious original colour slides as they were for lithography or scanning, and to editors and agencies all over.

Photographers lost control over the appearance of their images in magazines, papers and all printed matter. To regain it, they tried to make the "camera original" into a kind of Holy Grail that the b&w negative never was!

Today, with scanners and editing software, photographers have the chance to really regain control over their images. But the lithographic industry has invested heavily in drum scanners worth millions – and they take countermeasures. "Send us your camera originals, and we will scan them. Printing from anything the photographer himself has scanned is impossible" they claim. They are bluffing. Call the bluff!

I belong to the few photographers who have bothered to learn the colour darkroom techniques. For nearly 40 years I have developed colour reversal film, made colour duplicates of all sizes and produced large colour prints. To me, a colour slide is nothing more than a piece of raw material to make an interesting and enjoyable image from. The resulting image need not even have a true similarity with the original it was made from – and I call the shots.

With the possibilities offered by the digital techniques, all photographers can learn to do that. Take the chance!

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