I don’t care how you decide to label it:
Whatever the label, I think that having fun with how you stylize your images is one of the best ways to develop your own taste, your own brand, and your own look. Iteration after iteration, as you try something and decide whether it works for you or not, you begin honing that special something that makes your shot yours.
Obviously, it all starts with taking a good and compelling photo. Don’t walk down that path where you start relying on stylization as a crutch to salvage a shoddy image. Growth as a photographer is a lifelong commitment to take part of a delicate juggling act – learning your hardware, learning your software, learning how to saturate both with your imagination and your creativity.
In terms of processing
The processing is the real crux of this post, after all. I took the image several years ago while walking around NYC. It is a tone-mapped HDR image using Photomatix.
Stylization was applied intentionally with the movie, Blade Runner, in mind. I used one of our legacy products, PhotoTools 2.6 byto achieve this look. It was a combination of Blue Dawn Leonidas, Urban Sickness, and Just Enough Darkness.
In the case of this image, the use of these effects was surgical. I knew exactly what I wanted to get and which effects would get me there. Other times, it’s a totally random and exciting journey. However, as I stumble onto these happy accidents, I begin to take mental notes as to what appeals to me and what doesn’t.
And all of this is what serves directly in helping me create a distinct look.