Processing Photos Never Ends

I’m finally, almost caught up on my photo edits. Six hours spent in Lightroom and Photoshop this weekend took me up to my most recent shoot, and those shouldn’t take too long to get through.

Tagging, selecting, cropping, color correction, tweaks…I think I finally have a workflow that works, but I still know so little about all of this that I’m sure it’ll need to be adjusted.

So. Many. Hours.

If I didn’t know better, I’d blame my backlog and seemingly-slow pace on the fact that I’ve only just started taking photography seriously. I do know better, though. By which I mean, I’ve listened to and read the complaints of so many others photographers with this exact same problem that it’s pretty much just something I need to accept.

It’s a universal symptom–if you’re a photographer, you always have a pile of pictures to process.

And the pile never gets any smaller.

What’s more, it never really takes any less time to get through it, because as you get better at spotting and making improvements, you make more of them. Yeah, maybe after a few hundred photos you’ll be able to crop and correct your white balance in record time, but now you’ll be tweaking the contrast, and oh! Now you notice your saturation is a little off. And ah ha! You finally figured out what your histogram means by “highlight clipping” and why it’s bad.

It never ends.

Never.

That’s why I’m mostly leaving the edits for literal “rainy days,” and trying to set aside Thursday afternoons to take up the slack when I need to.

I figure if I’m only about 500 photos behind, I’ll consider it a victory.

Indoctrination

One of my favorite things about having a kid (apart from the fact that my daughter is just straight-up awesome), is that I get to fill her head with whatever I want.

That’s a powerful drug, people.

I try to use my powers for good, of course, but every now and then I try to feed her some nonsense. Like the time I told her that a band of lemurs migrated to the United States in the 1920s after being driven out of their homeland because of their insatiable desire to do other people’s hair.

And deception like that might be reason for concern, if her first reaction wasn’t to go look up whatever I say, construct an argument to eviscerate my position, and cite her sources. She’s twelve, now, but she demolished my lemur tale, in this manner, at age eight.

So I don’t really see this so much as lying, but as training her for the next four to eight years.

Anyway, beyond sharing my theories on the career choices and persecution of strepsirrhine primates, my role as a child indoctrination specialist also affords me the ability to expose her to all sorts of entertainment options—including Bablylon 5, which only recently became available for legal streaming.

I love that show, and Alex is enjoying it as well. Yeah, we joke a bit about the dated special effects (such as the hilariously-low-budget preying mantis “fixer” that even the producers seemed quick to realize was too much), and some of the guest actors are…less than good.

But still! I think you’d be hard pressed to find one other show with as much narrative cohesion, or as many memorable moments as that one. And a science-fiction show? Forget it. There’s always been a serious dearth of even decent sci-fi on television, let alone a show that’s inarguably good.

We’re only watching one or two episodes a day, so we’re still pretty early on in the show, but she already seems hooked on it, and she has strong opinions on most of the characters.

Not sure who her favorite is, yet. But my money’s on Kosh.

Discovering Art at Age Forty

I have vague recollections about enjoying art when I was a kid. Cray-pas, construction paper, tempera paints—brief flashes of all of these light the rooms of my brain when I think back to elementary and middle school art classes.

And all those hours of staring at the obligatory M.C. Escher posters in every math classroom I ever occupied.

I also have dim memories of a class I took in high school—“Humanities,” I think—where we learned the word, “chiaroscuro,” which I think means “light,” but I was far too interested in reading William S. Burroughs in the back of the room to worry about whatever the hell it was those Renaissance guys were doing.

I know shit about art. And I never really cared to learn.

From a very early age it was clear that if I was going to make my way in this world doing something creative, it’d be writing. A hilariously-gory short story to shock my teachers, or an angst-ridden essay on whatever imagined existential crisis I was going through at the time–that was art to me.

You know, I shouldn’t say that. I did appreciate one other art, and that was music. I’ve always found enormous pleasure in music, though I certainly couldn’t tell you anything more about a piece or song than whether or not I enjoyed it.

But drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, collage, photography, mosaic? For the vast majority of my forty years on this planet, I never gave any of these a first thought, let alone a second. And I was quite content to remain ignorant.

Then, a few months ago, my attitude toward art changed.

It wasn’t due to any one specific incident or revelation. Rather, I just had this sense that I’d been missing out, a feeling that kept building itself up, becoming more insistent, until I decided that I should know at least a little about art forms which didn’t involve words or musical notes.

So, I picked up a book called The Annotated Mona Lisawhich bills itself as “a crash course in art history”–and started there.

“Les Grandes Baigneuses,” by Auguste Renoir. The first painting I think I’ve truly loved—and not because nekkid women.

Pre-historic, pre-Columbian, Greek, Roman, through the Renaissance, and up to the present day. There’s a lot here, and it’s laid out like a magazine, with many photographs (though not quite as many as I’d hoped, and there aren’t nearly enough color ones), sidebars, and timelines, all covering the major points of interest along the way.

At 216 pages, it’s more of an outline of art history than a deep dive, but that’s exactly what I was looking for: a skeleton which I could prop up and hang the flesh of further study on. And it was fantastic for that purpose.

Even before I finished it, I was looking up artists, finding large, full-color photographs of their major works, learning more details about the various schools and “isms” of the art world. On and on and on the book went, and I’m still kind of shocked at how easily it pulled me along with it. And how much passion for the subject it ignited in me.

As I alluded to in a previous post, one of the results of this foray into art appreciation and history has been to inspire me to get into photography, but it’s done even more than that.

It’s fueled a passion for art in general.

I’ve started looking more carefully at the art around me. I’ve begun to seek out new artists online, check out their work, and just try to understand–as best I can–what it is they’re trying to do and how they did it.

And yes, I’ll admit that I’ve been looking more closely at photographers and filmmakers than I have at illustrators or painters, but that’s a prejudice I’m hoping to rectify. And truth be told, I think it’s all accomplishing the job which I suspect was the underlying motivation I had for looking into this stuff in the first place.

It’s changing how I look at the world.

Let’s face it, in my “Hey, I turned 40!” post, I tried to be all blase about hitting that age, but you can’t live for four decades without forming a world view–and the last decade, at least for me, hasn’t made that view particularly pretty.

I won’t go so far as to say that my newfound-yet-still-severely-limited appreciation for art has turned everything all sparkly and colorful, but there are one or two more bright spots now, in what was once a uniform gray.