A Little Fun with a Technique I Usually Hate


Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of many of the post-processing techniques in use today. It’s not that I’m against post processing per se, it’s just that I feel many photographers are processing their pictures beyond, in some cases far beyond, what I would consider the boundaries of reality.

Don’t get me wrong, I think many pictures benefit from a little skilled  manipulation, and I’m not suggesting that to be successful, a photograph must represent an accurate rendition of reality. But I do believe a photograph should be believable, even if it’s a complete abstract. In other words, when what you see on the page or screen is a close approximation of what the camera saw.

There are many photographers using this or that technique ad nauseam, to the point where one suspects they are attempting to cover up for poor photographic technique in other areas. Everyday we see things like terrible HDR pictures perpetrated by people who seem to want to shove their bad LSD experiences down our throats.

One of the techniques, though, that consistently invokes my ire, is selective de-saturation (or selective colour as some prefer to call it).

The very first time I ever encountered such an image was on a poster way back in the 1970s. If I remember correctly, the subject was a little girl holding a red rose, with the rose being the only colour in the shot. All of us who saw it were amazed.

The thing is, back then, if you saw a selectively de-saturated pic, you knew it required hours of quite complicated darkroom work, so you didn’t see too many of them. Today the same effect can be achieved  easily by pressing a button or two and moving a couple of sliders. In other words, anyone can do it. Of course, anyone could have done it the dark(room) ages, too, but you’d have to be a real masochist to even attempt it.

One of the best uses of the technique I’ve come across in the digital era is this image by Travis T on Flickr.

Yesterday, I was out and about on the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk and saw the cranes (above) in the late afternoon as the sun was just beginning to set, and fired of a couple of frames. When I saw the scene, I visualized a pic with a white sky and the only colour being that of the sunset hues seen through windows of the cranes’ cabs.

I messed about a bit with the colour image, but came to realise that in order to achieve the image I was after, I would have to [gulp] selectively de-saturate! I looked for a tutorial to teach me how to do it, and found this one on YouTube. Now I’m worried that I might become addicted to this technique. So if you see me posting too many selective-colour shots, please chastise me in the strongest possible terms.

Just for the record, this is the shot as it came out the camera.
And this is the version I uploaded to Flickr after some very basic editing. If the whole sky had the slightly orange tint apparent in the lower portion of the shot, I may not have bothered to go the whole hog with the de-saturation,  but I really wanted to ditch the blue.
I did briefly toy with something like this, too.
Contrary to what you may suspect, this is not an example of selective-desaturation, at least not via the techniques of photo-manipulation. You could say, though, that this is God Himself having a bit of fun with the technique on an African Grey.


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