Real or surreal, the choice is yours


prairie, landscape, winter, Dan Jurak, Alberta, snow, cold, sunset, poplar tree, barbed wire fence,I have spent a great portion of my life in the great outdoors. From my earliest childhood memories visiting Jasper National Park when the Icefields Parkway was a two late gravel road to having a convoy of European supercars pass me on the same highway a few years ago when I was spending a few fine autumn days in the park. BTW, it was really cool to see Ferraris, Lamborghinis, etc. zipping down the same highway that I almost know like the back of my hand.

In all of those years of camping and visiting how many spectacular sunrises or sunsets have I seen? Generously I would say one out of ten is a memorable one.

Simply put, most sunrises and sunsets are not memorable but yet I see photographers with always spectacular colours and tones in their photos.

Do they live on a different planet than I or are they just luckier than me in capturing these great moments?

There is nothing wrong with Photoshopping any landscape to get the result you want in my opinion. This is such a personal thing that it must be said that there are no wrongs or right when it comes to taking and processing your photos. It is all part of developing your own unique style.

There are ways to increase the chances of you getting the desired scene that you want. A keen eye on the long and short term forecast can minimize the time spent on the road only to come back disappointed.

Your style will evolve as you develop both your shooting and processing skills. By exposing yourself to the pictures of others you unconsciously borrow a little from here and there and modify it to adapt to how you see.

Photography is a constant evolutionary process.

The photo at the top of this post is an example of how I have changed in how I see and process landscapes.

When I originally shot and sent it away to one of the stock agencies that represents me it remained fairly faithful to what anyone driving by might have seen with just a slight boost to the colours.

Today I found the RAW images from this shoot and exported both a light and dark version then blended them together. In the past I would have used an HDR program like Photomatix but over the past few months have been experimenting more with Ray Pro tools to do all my blending and am finding that I have more control this way than before.

That is part of my learning process. Even when you aren’t outside shooting you can still be creative. The creative process doesn’t end when you depress your shutter. That is just like going to the grocery store and buying the ingredients for a cake. What you do with the ingredients determines what kind of cake that you get and for me that is as much fun as taking pictures.

prairie, landscape, winter, Dan Jurak, Alberta, snow, cold, sunset, poplar tree, barbed wire fence,

So do you like your cakes real or surreal?

Happy shooting,


~ by Dan Jurak on February 9, 2018.

3 Responses to “Real or surreal, the choice is yours”

  1. I totally agree on your basic artistic approach here Dan. I see my initial image as was it is, RAW material … with the light and compositional elements mine to choose. And like you, I’m not going for a final result that looks out there. Your post prod image doesn’t look out there at all. Instead by doing a thoughtful enhancement of the elements, you’ve made the composition stronger (at least to my eyes).

  2. Reblogged this on Travel, Photograph, Experience and commented:
    I like how Dan approaches post production, I have the same sense, that the tech tools we have should be used to deepen the impact of the art work. I see my initial image as what it is, RAW material … that can be shaped in subtle ways in post. Like Dan, I’m not going for a final result that looks out there. The final image must always have an intimate connection to your experience of that place and time. But by doing a thoughtful enhancement of the elements, I give myself a larger orchestra to compose for, i.e., I’j just finishing the composition, evoking the underlying elements of the piece through crop, structure, light and dark, tone, light.

  3. Thank you Tim. Photography, like our lives is a process of growing and changing. Being open and receptive to new ideas and seeing in new ways is never a bad thing. Living and playing by someone else’s rules is. Thank you for visiting and commenting as always,

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