Lion by robmercier00
Lion, a photo by robmercier00 on Flickr.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with this photo since starting this project. I remember distinctly having an image in mind when I took it, yet every time I sat down to edit and process the photo, it was never right. I tried leaving it as a natural image, I tried applying heavy processing, black & white, vivid color, nothing matched what I saw in my head.

I’ve been testing Photoshop CS5 for a potential Christmas present this year, and I decided to try the “Merge to HDR” function, which has yielded good results every time I’ve tried it so far. Not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised at how close the image came to the elusive “head image” I’ve been carrying around this whole time. I made a few other edits and processes, and was finally left with this somewhat surreal, slightly tilt-shifted HDR image. It was then that I realized that the reason I was having a hard time capturing the image in my head was that the image in my head wasn’t a real image at all. It was a distorted image at best, which is why this came closest to what I was initially trying to capture.

I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes you need the right tools to achieve your goals, and sometimes your goals aren’t quite as strict and cut & dried as you might think. Sometimes by stepping back a bit, you realize that what you’re actually achieving is the real-world version of that ultimate goal in your mind. This pursuit of perfection can drive people crazy, but it can also yield exceptional results. Always be sure you have the clarity of mind to realize which side of that thin line you’re leaning toward so that you can teeter back the other way when you need to.


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