Straight out of camera vs. Editing to Enhance the Story


I watched a webinar this week by Scott Kelby and Eric Kuna. One of the topics was about how Scott had felt that adding a sky replacement was cheating in the editing process. He felt this way for YEARS! Then he found out how most landscape photographers used sky replacement in photoshop to enhance the story they were trying to convey in their image. Well... you should have seen the chat box EXPLODE by the purists. In so many words they were saying that if the sky is blown out so be it, the final image has to be as shot. You're not a good photographer if you have to do any compositing...blah, blah, blah!!

It was funny as I had submitted the above after image to my photography club's competition this month. Now I did ask first what the rules were for sky replacement before I submitted the image. I was assured that it was okay. Some people were a bit upset that it was allowed. I have read most photography clubs do not allow sky replacement in their competitions.

What bothers me about this rule is this: What's the story? What's the story? In the world of photography we are to have the images convey a story. In this case the story was the Wizard of Oz so the actual sky didn't "fit" the story. This mustang was at a car show in the summer sunshine in the middle of a field. I took artistic license and added a stormy sky overlay. That fit the story. For the purists out there, how long am I supposed to wait for a storm to brew?? That goes for all of these excellent landscape photographers traveling to get that shot of their destination. Sometimes they scout for days to see what time the light is the best for what they envisioned, are they supposed to not take that shot just because the sky didn't have the right cloud formation. Or the aviation photographer can't add in clouds or take them away to best fit the shot.

Our profession has tools just like other professions. Our tools are ever evolving just like all other tools. To what degree we use them is up to us individually and what fits the story.