Gautama Buddha gathered his students for a talk. When all were gathered, the Buddha remained silent. Some students wondered if the Buddha was tired or sick as he remained completely quiet, merely holding up a flower and staring intently at it.
Many of the Buddha's students tried, without success, to interpret what this might mean? One student, a dude named Mahakasyapa, suddenly broke into a really big, fat, smile! The Buddha acknowledged Mahakasyapa's insight.
As I continue on my photographic journey towards photo nirvana, I find myself applying less and less Photoshop processing to my pics. Yeah, I still make adjustments to the levels and color. I crop. I cover blemishes. I sharpen the pics a bit. I might also convert the images to monochrome. But, for the most part, that's pretty much all I do these days.
It wasn't always that way.
There was a time I applied almost everything Photoshop could conjure in an attempt to make my pretty girl pictures, well, picture perfect. I sought Photoshop knowledge regularly. Every new tool or process or action or technique I found, I'd try out on my pics. Sometimes I liked the results. Sometimes I didn't. Sometimes, most times in fact, I was unsure of whether I liked what I had done, what Photoshop had done... or not.
These days, once I've edited my pics down to a few I want to play with, I find myself staring intently at them. More so as I consider what I might do, post-processing-wise, to enhance the photos. I use a few, basic, Photoshop tools and processes rather automatically, e.g., crop, basic adjustments, blemish removal. Then, I stare again. I usually try this and that but, more often than not, I end up deleting the layers that contain whatever I thought would make the photo better. Often enough, I do this even when whatever it was I applied does seem to make the picture "better." Last thing I do is sharpen the image a bit, then save it.
But what constitutes better? Is manipulating the image in ways that no longer reflects the natural beauty or allure of the model better? Better than what? Better than reality? Better than nature? Better than the model herself?
I suppose it often is.
Better, that is.
Leastwise, it's often better in the eyes and minds of the masses. After all, when it comes to pretty girl pics and the many people who enjoy them, fantasy usually trumps reality. We see those fantasy aspects played out in the model's poses and expressions, in the lighting we throw at our subjects, in the environments we shoot our models in and more. Why not also use plenty of post-processing to further create pure fantasy?
But then, as I sit and stare at my photos, I question whether exaggerating the fantasy aspects of my pretty girl pics, especially in post, makes the model too perfect, too unattainable, too unlike a real woman? So much so, that it creates a feminine image of someone who is quite unlike every pretty girl I see, every day.
And here's the rub, no pun intended, too much fantasy manipulation actually ruins the fantasies for me.
Who knew a sexy pic of a sexy chick could motivate such heavy, introspective, thinking?
I think the Buddha knew.
And I think the Buddha would approve.
As usual, I'm just saying.
The pretty girl at the top is Cytherea from a few years ago. Cytherea's modeling handle, BTW, is another name for the goddess, Aphrodite, of Greek mythology. Aphrodite is the goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality.