20 June, 2015

The perfect is the enemy of the good

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Mainland from Bribie Island [click to enlarge]

"Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien." (The perfect is the enemy of the good.)
—Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

I was reading about the tactic of a photographer (that I greatly admire) for adjusting mottled skin in a black and white portrait. In Photoshop he broke the image into its underlying RGB layers and addressed the mottled skin in the blue layer where it was most prominent.

As I was following his steps in Photoshop, I kept thinking that I could address this more directly and more quickly with the tools of Lightroom. (And, anyway, I thought his final image appeared a little unnatural.) To be fair, the exercise was a lesson is using Photoshop's layers in ways that might address a variety of problems.

This set me thinking, however, about three things:
One: Is Lightroom quick and dirty in comparison to Photoshop? No, Lightroom (or Capture One or DXO OpticsPro) is quick and its interface is elegant. It's designed to assist photographers as directly as possible. 
Two: Am I ashamed that I don't face the same level of work that we faced in the wet darkroom, or even in Photoshop? Not at all. As others have observed, nobody cares how hard you worked. I love digital and particularly the savings in time. 
Three: Is photography an exercise in seeing, or in creating something new? I like Jay Maisel's sentiment: "I'm not trying to change anything that's in front of me; I'm trying to give it respect and I'm trying to call attention to it."
I keep meaning to get better at using Photoshop. There are just some things you can't do in Lightroom or with Lightroom's plug-ins. But the number of those things keeps dwindling.

Soft proofing has been in Lightroom for a while. And, with the incorporation of HDR and Panoramas, Adobe has addressed two of the main reasons I've had for making the pilgrimage to Photoshop. Now, if we can just get content-aware fill, image averaging, and layer blending for focus bracketing....


Anonymous said...

"Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien." (The perfect is the enemy of the good.)
—Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

Nice site! My first visit; not my last.

Just thought I'd correct the translation. It means "The _better_ is the enemy of the good."


pbass wil

Bill Danby said...

Got me. But I liked "perfect" better, given its history. Thanks for visiting.