March 11, 2015

Proof vs Finished Images (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

I've been thinking a lot about proofs lately, as I've been working on the image selection for an upcoming exhibition at ViewPoint Galley. Proofs have always been part of my creative process, initially with film images, and now with digital. While working on the upcoming show, I came across a great example of the difference between proofs and finished images.
Digital infrared original, 18 frame stitch
Above is a proof of a photograph of Andre I made in 2008. To even see the image I needed to do a fair amount of processing as it is stitched together from 18 frames; that being said, there was no "interpretation" of the image - it was processed with all the other photos from the day to a base standard (a bright white with detail, a rich black with detail, and good contrast).  In the end, it was one of the photographs that made the cut; after renaming the original RAW files, and the proof image to reflect the source files, the proof image was added to my catalogue, along with proofs of every other image from the session.
Digital infrared original, 18 frame stitch
The finished image has a very different tone from the proof; instead of being processed as one photograph of many, when finishing an image, the entire focus is on strengthening the photograph; shifting the emphasis from one place to another, removing distractions and ensuring all the elements in the photograph support the same message. In this case, in addition to some minor cropping, more than a dozen local adjustments were made, the most obvious one is the treatment of Andre's hair.

When looking between the proof and the finished image, I see one of the most effective examples from my own work of the value of proofing (to permit quick evaluation of an image with a minimum of investment) and the worth of a finished image (to permit the realization of the potential of a photograph).

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