Editing to Appeal to the Flickr-Browsing Crowd

I’ve had around 30 photos featured in Flickr’s Explore section, which showcases the most interesting 500 photos submitted each day. When one browses Explore, there are some obvious patterns, topics, and even colors which seem to come up frequently. Certain types of photos do well.

One of my more popular images is Under Dolores, a photo taken while looking through a culvert/walkway underneath a railroad yard in Los Angeles. The Flickr-ed image is a departure from the out-of-the-camera shot and I thought it might be interesting to take a quick look at the process:

First, as from the camera:
Under Dolores

After adjusting the exposure:
Under Dolores

Finally, applying tone and contrast adjustments:
Under Dolores

Was the image altered? Heck yes. Did I alter the image specifically to give it more pop and make it an eye-catcher? Yes.

Is that wrong? There’s the debate. Personally I have no problem with folks who adjust images to create something new. I’m not trying to pass it off as some accurate representation of reality, but rather as a piece of art. Most of my photos aren’t altered this heavily, but this one seems to lead to a lot of conversations, so I thought I’d post a bit about how it got to the final state.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I don't have a problem with someone adjusting images. It all depends on what your purpose is, like you said at some point in your process you looked at the original and decided to make something new, and artistic out of it. Nothing wrong with using technology to create art, even if it does involve a photo as it's starting point. Not every one is taking photos to capture a scene or document real life, and that's ok.

    Now if you made that much of an adjustment and trying to pass it off as an accurate representation, or for use in a news article or other documentation piece, that would be an issue. 🙂

  2. I hope you don't use the same green tone on portraits 🙂

    Since your intent was an artful representation of the scene what you did to the image is no issue. In fact there is something far more appealing about the end result than the gray concrete version.

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