Knowing what and how much to process matters

One of the most challenging parts of working with an image can be knowing how much to process the file. This image from Artist Point up by Mount Baker in the North Cascades is an excellent example of one of the biggest considerations I think about when processing my files. That golden yellow along with the horizon line is the light pollution caused by the Seattle/Everett/Tacoma/etc. metro area. It is present in the sky as a part of the environment.

I have the skills to remove that in front of the camera at the time of capture using a light pollution filter or in processing in Lightroom or Photoshop. I know a lot of photographers who would edit that color out. I also know, from experience, that they can be highly critical of what they consider to be poor editing skills.

However, one of the key themes in my landscape work is the touch and impact of humans on the environment. We aren’t observers of a perfect place. We dramatically affect our world. While I love photographing the world’s beauty, I often leave traces of our impact. I attempt to have my photographs be about more than just a pretty place, but rather, as in this case, to have you think about what the color along the horizon might be and, more importantly, how you feel about our impact. Maybe you might change your approach to life by seeing some of the effects, no matter how small. After all, the planet will be fine without us, but we won’t do so well without her. And for those Elon Musk fans, if I was on Mars at some point in the future. I would still make the same type of images. After all, what makes you think we won’t fuck up Mars just the same? If we can’t take care of this place, we certainly won’t do it on the next world.

August 16, 2022

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