Mass Ave - August 28, 2005

WARNING: If a beginner photographer over-intellectualizing makes you roll your eyes, don’t even bother reading what’s below.
I’m torn.

I was playing with some of my night shots in Photoshop. I did something with white balance that I don’t ordinarily do. I set it to “Auto.” The photos were completely transformed. For my “cliché” shot, there is now absolutely no question which is the best. It’s the one that never made it up there – the one where the white balance was set to “Auto.” That’s the one that would be on the postcard that gets made of that photo. It’s a postcard photo, after all.

That’s fine. But for my two most recent shots, I’m not sure how I feel. Auto white balance gives them a much more natural feel. I can feel a discernable sense of relaxation when I set set it thus. Suddenly in “Green” the whole lit section loses its much of its greenish tint, at least to the extent that it looks “unnatural”. And the sky in the background just becomes bluer and pops more from the rest of the image. Overall, it’s more natural and more relaxing.

But I don’t know how I feel about that. I think for the moment, I’m still not completely sure what I want to do with these photographs. Am I trying to make eye-pleasing compositions? Am I trying to reflect a mood? Am I trying to create a mood? I don’t feel like I wanted these to be natural and postcard-type photos. I feel as if I wanted the fact that the light is artificial, and that it's a cityscape, not a natural landscape to come through. Some of that gets lost when there's a more “natural” white balance.

I’ve found I’m very compelled by the photography of Rut Blees Luxemburg. Her photography of unpopulated urban nightscapes does not look at all natural. The mood is oppressive. But the photos are fascinating and intriguing. I think that mood is something I see in Green and Green 2 -- although without nearly the intensity, not to mention the talent. And for that reason, I think I still prefer the slightly artificial look.

But it is interesting, at any rate, to see the other possibilities…

And incidentally, for this photograph, I used a "Tungsten" setting for the white balance. It removes that hazy quality and makes this particular picture that much better.


remind me to comment on your thoughts later. As for this picture, it is great. I know you struggle with the "why" of your photos, but I find aethitically pleasing enough of a reason to like a shot. And this picture is aesthetically pleasing to my eye.

Posted by: Bob on August 29, 2005 08:16 AM

I think this photo works well, for me it's the differant coloured lights that make it magical. That is one of the great things about night photography, all those differant colours....and tweak away untill you think it looks good, true to reality or not. If your happy with....that's all that matters. :-)

I can't wait till the weather warms up a bit down here and night wandering with a camera becomes easier.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 1, 2005 08:49 AM