Tip of the Day: Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

Its been quite a while since I posted a Tip of the Day.  If you missed my others you can check them out here.

Have you ever heard of an expression that can sum up an experience or situation.  For myself there are plenty.  Here’s one of those expressions that really resonate and has helped me:

Can’t see the forest for the trees.

The meaning of this expression is to describe someone who is too involved in the details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole.  Where they focus only on small details and fail to understand the big picture.

We, as photographers, shoot with some high end cameras that has the ability to produce some amazing detail.  When reviewing pics it can be exciting to zoom in to 100% to just bask in the details and soak in the sharpness of a picture.  I mean why else would we buy these cameras if we didn’t have the ability to zoom in and change the crop without sacrificing picture quality.  When it comes to retouching it takes some control and discipline to not zoom in at 100 % to retouch.  Having the ability to retouch at 100% can be a blessing and a curse.

Downtown Los Angeles

Lets use this as an example.  A few weeks back I took this picture of downtown Los Angeles from the hills of North Hollywood with a medium format camera, a Mamiya 645 AFD II paired with the Leaf Aptus II digital back.  If I were to zoom in at 100% and start cloning out the distracting objects it wouldn’t contribute to the overall picture, it would be an effort gone unseen.  Who would want to spend 30-45 minutes moving pixels just to find out that was time wasted after zooming out at 25% to see the results.  Click on the picture above to see details in the buildings of downtown Los Angeles.

So imagine how this affects me as fashion and beauty photographer.  If I zoomed in right away and started retouching a section of the face to find out later that it didn’t do anything.  I wouldn’t be a happy camper.  Before starting any kind of pixel manipulation I like to plan things out just to make sure I’m not wasting time on the small details that doesn’t do anything to the big picture of things.

If you’re spending ridiculous amount of time retouching or cloning things out you may have to ask yourself if this time is well spent and will it make a difference in the overall picture of things.  Because time is money and who couldn’t use more money.

-Rodney Alan




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