Many of you looking at these images might wonder if they are petrified trees; trees that have been turned to stone through the process of ‘permineralization’ .
Certainly the technician at Metro Imaging in London, who did an absolutely brilliant job of setting them into Light Boxes, thought they were stone. He knew they weren’t manipulated through Photoshop or the like because he had their Raw Files for record but he sharpened them up, as is the need when mounting in Light Box, far too much and the beautiful reality of the wood grain started to be lost.
As a student photographer, the bane of my life was the instant reaction of most tutors when they saw any photograph. “Is it sharp?” they would say and immediately start to examine every little detail. How sharp is sharp when the man – as in human – behind the camera is looking for a certain effect – and no, I don’t mean the Bokeh effect, I just mean allowing the atmosphere and desired creation to dictate where and how much should be sharp within an image.
And there it is. The web is full of wonderful images there for everyone to enjoy. Some will be untouched, some developed and some will be manipulated beyond any comparison with the original representation. As an artist I use lighting to create the image in a closer likeness to what I feel and see in my imagination; the result is usually moody, mystical and although a true representation of the subject, often having a quality that leads the viewer to ask the question, “How did you do that? Did you use Photoshop?”
And there it is. The myth about manipulation. “If it is different or more beautiful or strange than you have ever seen, then it must be manipulated”. Or must it?
The truth about manipulation is that if a photographer is genuine about his craft then he should be happy to show you his Raw files; not give you them, just show you them. Over the next week I shall share some images and the story of how I came to be privileged enough to take photographs of the Submerged Forest. For now, here are some of my Raw files, untouched, just as they were taken into Lightroom for developing.