Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Vision & Voice – David duChemin’s book on Refining your vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

I admit right here at the start that I am a great fan of David duChemin’s blog, his Craft & Vision e-books and his first published book Within the Frame – The Journey of Photographic Vision.  He espouses a philosophy about photography that resonates with me.  This challenges me to think about what I am trying to achieve when I am about to frame a photograph and press the shutter button.

As a relative novice of the photographic arts I often struggle to get the photographs I hope for.  Coming from a somewhat technical background I often lack the creative vision to make a reasonable photograph of a subject, however simple, that others create masterpieces from. But I keep trying.

In his book Vision & Voice – Redefining your vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom David has led me further down the path of understanding.  I came to Adobe Lightroom without any formal tuition, but what I found was a post-processing software product that I could understand even at its basic level. However, I struggled with it when dealing with RAW images because of the high degree of flexibility of manipulation, and a lack of understanding of what I was trying to achieve.  As a technical kind of person I believed that I should be trying to recreate the scene exactly as I remembered it.  David duChemin encourages me to recreate images as I “felt” them.  Now, there’s a challenge for a technician!

What I like about this book is that it’s not about the ins and outs of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  It’s about translating the vision in the image you captured into the final product.  David talks about three kinds of image – the image you envision, the image you capture in your camera, and the final image you produce as a result of refinement in post-processing.  Does the final image have to represent the subject “exactly”?  David argues that the answer depends on its final usage – if it’s a news image “Yes”, otherwise it depends on your intention.  What a liberating thought!  Did it look that way?  Did it feel that way?  That creates an opening for a technician to look at things in quite a different way.

By following the thought processes that David uses to create his final images one is treated to a “try it and see what happens” approach to image transformation with the clear understanding that there is a vision for what the final product will look and feel like.  In the process you learn how the sliders and tools in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom help to transform the raw product into its final form.

Beware – the old adage “Garbage in – Garbage out” still applies.  A poor vision coupled with a poor capture will still produce a poor image.

For me this book has been a revelation.  I now have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t in Lightroom, and a much clearer idea about what I need to do about capturing a worthwhile image in the first place.  In photography, as in all things in life, learning is a lifetime experience.  As an “older person” I am racing to catch up after so many years away from this fascinating craft.


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