I visited Montmartre on day 12 of my Paris photography adventure. Unfortunately, heavy downpours and mobs of tourists prevented me from getting much photographically.
I did visit the Sacré-cœur Basilica, and the textures were amazing.
The sky was really bland, and I wasn’t too crazy about my outside shot:
But I played around with it just for grins, and with some HDR and a couple of filters I got this:
There’s a fine line between being artistic and over-the-top, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to draw that line. As with any form of art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
When HDR first became the rage, I saw all kinds of over-the-top HDR images, and the novelty had an “Oh wow” effect on me. Nowadays, most professional photographers seem to be toning down their style, possibly add some HDR to give a little pop to the image, but not so much to make it obvious. It’s like adding hot sauce to a meal – you want to enhance the flavor, but not overpower it.
I happen to like hot sauce.
“Grungy” is a term often used for over-the-top HDR processing, and the novelty has worn off for me. Having said that, there’s something in this particular image which seems to lend itself to a bit of a grungy look.
I think subjects which have a lot of texture, such as this one, can lend themselves more to extreme processing. However, you’d never want to do this to an image of a person, unless you don’t like them very much.
You do pay a price for extreme processing – you often introduce noise into the image, just like you do when you increase the ISO in your camera.
If you don’t know what “noise” is, here’s a closeup of the sky in the heavily processed image above:
In contrast, the sky in the original image looks like this:
If I want something to look photorealistic, I want it to look as clean and sharp as possible. With this last image, while I’m not crazy about the noise, I think it looks more interesting than the bland grey sky. I’m taking artistic license here.
Software can do some pretty amazing things to clean up some of the noise. Usually I use noise reduction in Lightroom, and it works terrifically. When I have an astounding amount of noise, such as with this image, I used a program called Topaz Denoise. This is what it did with that noisy segment I showed you above.
It’s nothing like the clean image, but it’s a major improvement, especially when you aren’t zoomed in so much.
This is my final image with some of the noise taken out:
The Basilica itself is quite beautiful inside, but photography is not allowed, and while I’m not always a stickler for rules, breaking them inside a church didn’t seem quite right to me. I took this opportunity to put my camera away and pray and meditate for a few minutes. And plan my next shots.
I wandered around the neighborhood a little bit, and I couldn’t believe how deserted it was just a block away from the tourist crowd. I came up with 3 locations I want to shoot, but at this point it really started pouring. I made a bee-line to the the Metro station and put these on the docket for tomorrow.