The Good and Bad of Aiming for Perfection


I spent a late night editing photos last night. I was finishing up a batch of pics that I was determined to get processed this week. I was at the last set of bracketed photos- it was the one that I had kept putting off and putting off and now there it was, the last one to work on from the batch. This one intimidated me. I had actually taken a shot at this one time earlier, I think, and was not at all happy with the result, though I knew there was a great photo there. Maybe I just wasn’t up to the post on this one. Maybe I just didn’t have the skills.

I went ahead and took another stab at it 2 nights ago and once again, I could just not bear to keep the results. I knew it could be better. I do not keep something if I am not happy with it. Maybe I should, for comparison purposes, or maybe I should just back track and reprocess from some point in the editing history. Anyway, I trashed my results twice. Last night I was determined to give it one more shot before bed. I had a good tone-mapped version, but there were problems with it that I just wasn’t sure how to fix. Photomatix does a great job 90% of the time with most of the picture. I almost always blend in some of the original RAWs in Photoshop. There was something with this one, what with the many tree trunks and the sky behind that Photomatix could just not handle very well.

So I discarded the tonemapped layer and began hand blending 5 bracketed layers manually. It took nearly two hours. But I managed the result below, which was far better than any of the previous results. I debated about the motion blur border that I added, but I think it gives a real sense of being there. I felt surrounded by these tall straight trees and overwhelmed by the bursts of color around me at ground level. The final image is far from perfect, but I keep pursuing perfection, because it would simply be a shame to aim for anything less.

Photo of a pine forest in Brown County Indiana during early autumn