Take 2: Aaron

This is not so much Take 2 as Take 3. Or maybe 10. Or just keep counting.

One massive downside with digital photography for me personally is the fact I take so long in making decisions. Time. There are almost infinite possibilities as to how your photos can end up looking via a few clicks on your computer. It’s just one big digital, and therefore very precisely and easily adjustable, darkroom.

Now that I have a better digital camera in the form of the Pentax K3, it handles editing so effortlessly and gracefully that I have even more options at my disposal than I did before. This is a pleasure to behold but it is also a curse. It’s more pleasurable to spend more time editing, so it’s easier to spend more time editing. Working full time you only have so many free hours to start with… and editing was already taking up a bit too much of my time.

At the weekend I finally put my favourite lens – a fully manual 55mm f1.8 – onto my new K3 body. I’ve no idea why it took me this long. I spent a sunny day in Greenwich with my brother Aaron and I got this really nice picture (my reflection notwithstanding!). I figured it would be good for editing practice and it was.


Things should be way easier edit-wise for me now. I could often use pictures pretty much straight from the camera now if I wanted, or easily add one of my self made black and white editing presets with very few adjustments to make a perfectly polished finish to the shot, and yet I can never leave it at that. I still need to tinker. To see if I can “improve” a picture further.

I sat and played with this photo for an afternoon, trying out various different colour edits. I was very happy indeed with my black and white version but I could not seem to get a nice colour edit for some reason. None of them really shone like the black and white edit did. And I think this was mainly a problem of choice. Skin tone is often a tricky subject to be happy with in itself, but with this one I just did version after version and they all sort of looked ok, but I just kept scrapping them unsatisfied.

This happens from time to time when I’m editing and it can be a bit frustrating. It’s like when you say a word over and over and it suddenly loses all meaning. Sometimes you have looked at the same picture in such detail for so long that you can’t remember what you are trying to do with it anymore or even really tell what it looks like. When that happens I often like to take a break, but sometimes instead of doing that, I give myself something else to do with the picture for a bit.

I’ll start making quite extreme random adjustments. Or attempt to edit it in the style of someone else, or to give it a very specific “look”. In this case, the sunglasses and strong sunlight made me want to attempt a look reminiscent of CSI: Miami. Often such idle playing can reveal something in the image you might not have otherwise hit upon.

The last version of Aaron’s portrait in this post here is not at all an edit I would have done otherwise. I learnt a few new tricks from my experimenting. Now that I’m used to how it looks, although a bit extreme and contrasty for my usual taste and not really my style, I do quite like it. And I am liking it more and more each time I look at it. This edit has so many tiny adjustments layered on top of each other. Like the black and white edit, it also has some coloured highlights from the split toning settings. I’d never really played about with that much before for a start.

Go play. It’s one way to guarantee learning something meaningful to you. Whatever that might be.


In other news I’ve entered a photo competition. If you could possibly spare two minutes, maybe you would like to please help increase my chances of winning a camera so that I don’t have to spend the rest of my life paying off the one I currently have. It would also make my day. 

Registering is quick – I promise – and all you’d need to do is to click on this link and write “I nominate this photo.” underneath my pinhole photo of a ukulele and say why you like it. If you do of course. If not, thank you for tolerating this plea. If indeed you did.