On The Happy Accidents of Post Processing and Image Stylization

By |2011-10-17T22:10:57+00:00Oct 17th, 2011|

Last night, I was on a hangout with +Nicole S. Young and +Dave Veffer while simultaneously working on some images taken at the 2011 +Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk in Port Townsend, WA a few weeks ago (kudos to +Ray Ketcham and +Stuart Sipahigil for organizing).

I started working on the shot below and had an intention of going B&W and to veer it towards a cyanotype area. It was the look that I had in my mind. The only problem is that I have an infinitesimally small attention span and can barely do one thing at a time, much less two or three, like process an image and maintain a conversation.

So, while processing, I must have inadvertently applied a duotone and instantly fell in love with the results. I tweaked the colors for the highlights and shadows a bit to match taste but I was really thankful for serendipitously stumbling onto this look.

And it got me thinking – I'll be the first to admit that having a developed sense of vision is critical. As a photographer, knowing how you want your results to turn out to meet the vision that you have in your head is critical. To that point, knowing how to use the tools to get to that point is equally as critical.

But what about all of the possible unconsidered avenues? Imagine all of the different lives your images could live just by a slide of this or an addition of that. It's pretty fascinating to consider when you really take a minute to think about it.

And it begs the simple question:

Is an image every really done?

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28 Comments

  1. andy gimino October 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    I agree and the processing works well here brian! I think it adds some more mood to this image along with the long exposure…nicely done!

  2. Gabriele Castelli October 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    "Is an image every really done?"
    No, I don't think so :p

    I enjoy a lot the "Virtual Copy" feature in Lightroom, because it permits to actualy see, side by side, all the different variations you have in your mind for a single photo.
    So you can choose the one that is more appealing.

    When you can choose, of course. :p

  3. Lisa Borel October 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    I like splits with my duotones, personally +Brian Matiash
    Check out the door in my photos.

  4. Andrii Kobzaruk October 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Super!

  5. Clark Crenshaw October 17, 2011 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Some of my images have multiple versions of "done" that I am happy with. The image I posted today is a good example of that. https://plus.google.com/photos/109940597696193991152/albums/posts/5664482689966781058https://plus.google.com/photos/109940597696193991152/albums/posts/5664482689966781058

  6. Brian Matiash October 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    Well played, +Gabriele Castelli.

  7. Alex Alexander October 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    Looks perfect to me. ;)

  8. Brian Matiash October 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    +Alex Alexander Cheers!

  9. Eric Hann October 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    Yes, I believe images are eventually "done". Just because an image can have a zillion variations doesn't mean it should. The toughest part of post work is learning to say "done".

  10. Brian Achille October 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Beautiful, serendipitous variation there, +Brian Matiash .

    I like to use the word 'complete' perhaps, as opposed to 'done' or 'finished'. I feel if the image is such that there is an integrity to it, where the various aspects relate to each other and add up to something more, it has reached a state of completion.

  11. Josephine Robertson October 17, 2011 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    I love this too. I'm curious how you "apply a duotone"? Do you have a preset for this you accidentally clicked? I love the look but have no idea how you accomplished it. ;)

  12. Brian Matiash October 17, 2011 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    +Josephine Robertson We have some pretty robust duotone tools in Perfect Effects (launching very soon)

  13. Josephine Robertson October 17, 2011 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Oh reeaaaly? Will that work with LR, or just Photoshop? My poor old Mac can't run Photoshop well, but does great w Lightroom….

  14. Alex Alexander October 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    +Brian Matiash cannot wait to get my hands on the PhotoSuite 6!!!

  15. Jon Matthies October 17, 2011 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    No! :)

  16. Monique Angelich October 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    I don't know what everything you are talking about means… but I know I like the results. :) I hope to learn by reading along as you folks discuss processing methods.

  17. Zachery Jensen October 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    I've not interpreted the nebulous "vision" doctrine with much strictness. I find it very useful to have a vision that is specific enough to give me a goal of a time and place but vague enough that I'm not locked down and come home disappointed or worse, with stunted creativity. When I'm doing street photography, vision must also help me choose the 1 or two lenses I'll take along.

    I think vision is crucial to making the most out of any outing, but I tend to limit it to something like "I know that… today, I want to get some photos of some geometrically interesting buildings with an element of time passing" and that can turn into people walking in front of an elegant staircase, slightly motion blurred, or maybe a shot straight up with an ND filter and clouds. And of course, how the actual results are edited, well I usually try for what I had originally planned, then play around a bit perhaps considering a second tier of new "visions" for whatever else I might be able to do after the fact.

    I think the worst thing you can do is lock yourself hard into one specific outcome, though. That's just tunnel vision.

  18. Jon Matthies October 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    "A painting is never finished. It simply stops in interesting places."- Paul Gardener

  19. Monique Angelich October 17, 2011 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    nice quote.. :: steals ::

  20. Ivan Boden October 17, 2011 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Happy accidents are wonderful. On the other hand, sometimes, you can do so many variations, it makes you confused. You second guess yourself, making it tough to decide which single variation works best. Being decisive and going with your gut instinct, is best when that happens.

  21. Ian Ginzberg October 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    really like this pic! Could have this on my wall for sure :)
    Isnt it funny……if this pic was submitted to a photo magazine, and you werent Brian Matiash, they would say that maybe u should have got a different angle so that the poles werent protruding into the mountain. Thats why i love google+ so much! People on here love photos for what they are and not neccesarily following 'the rules'. Great stuff as always!! :)

  22. Ian Good October 17, 2011 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    Even if you decide that it is done now, if you return to it with Photo Suite 7, you'll probably have more unconsidered avenues. :)

  23. Lisa Borel October 17, 2011 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    It came to my attention that some have come to learn that split toning is the same as duo toning.
    It is not, it is vastly different.
    Here is a very good website explaining the benefits an image can derive from the application of split toning: http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/SplitT/SplitT2/splitt2.html
    +Brian Matiash How would you achieve a tonal split digitally?

  24. Edith levy October 17, 2011 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Happy accident but terrific accident. Great image.

  25. Aaron October 17, 2011 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    I’m not sure if an image is ever “done” – but I doubt it.

    Every once in a while I’ll revisit an image from several years ago and re-process it in a different way.

  26. John B Tefertiller October 18, 2011 at 1:31 am - Reply

    Serendipity is your friend. Embrace it!

  27. Sharon October 18, 2011 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Love this image and the treatment, Brian! I constantly find myself going back to images and tweaking or changing… :-)

  28. A.Barlow October 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    The image is sweet man.

    As far as done goes, I have a few images that I would like to reprocess, but that’s rare for me. Generally I tend to see how I would like an image in it’s final state before I even press the shutter. There are tons of reasons this helps me, but might not work for everyone.

    I will say though doing it that way slows me down while taking the shots, yet speeds me up processing them.

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