Posted on 29 Comments

Rose Bay

F.16 / 0.6 of a second.

Another shot from Rose Bay, Tasmania on a windy afternoon. The sea spray caused havoc on my filters, leaving me with a 10% hit rate.

I like to keep my post processing as simple and quick as possible, mostly using curves, saturation, exposure and contrast (reference: before and after). Lately I’ve been wondering if I need to step things up with fancy borders, logo and push for unnatural dynamic range in my image (i.e. this without the dynamic range). Yet I can’t help but wonder if this is just another faux trend? I see more and more amateurs who having owned a camera for a few weeks, are already sporting a logo and border for their images when they probably should be putting more of that effort into learning photography/processing.

So it begs the question, do I need to jump on board and start taking this style of presentation more seriously before I get left behind? Or should I stick with my current approach of letting my images do the talking without relying on a logo and border to give a false sense of professionalism? I’m not having a go at anyone using this style but am interested in how others perceive it.

Happy birthday to me! 🙂

29 thoughts on “Rose Bay

  1. Well, I’m with you on this one Alex. As you know, I used to do borders with a nasty big name in them. My intent was to stop people lifting my photos to put on their website uncredited (yes, it has happened). However after a while it began to look rather tacky.

    My current approach is to watermark the bottom of the photo with a shadow strip the lower section of the photo adding my name at site URL. The result is far more subtle that the gaudy borders I used to use. Examples here:

    At the end of the day, I came to the realisation that people were steal my work, they would crop out whatever they needed to, and I didn’t want to plaster an embossed watermark through the image. The tacky border then was just that, tacky.

    1. Thanks for the comment Ben.
      Just to clarify, I mean logos which serve no purpose for watermarking as they can be simply cloned out or as you say, cropped. I just had a look at your shadow strip and like it. It’s not in your face and is quite simplistic which is a big plus for me. If I one day mark all my images I think something similar to yours might be the go.

      – Alex

    2. Yea, I mean I can understand you the need for watermarking if you have an exclusive and you want to make damn sure people know who took the photo. If framing effects are not adding anything creative to the image, then you are probably making the photo look worse.

      Yea, I like my basic mark for the reasons you mentioned – it also means I can export out of Aperture without the need for a plugin (eg BorderFX which I was using before). Watermarks in Aperture are a bit of a dark art so keeping it simple was important to begin with.

      I like what Nigel does as well with his text in the corner. If I had a nice logo, and could work out how Aperture scales logos, then I would probably do that too.

      Its all about the picture, not what is around it.

  2. Vote 1, No Borders!

  3. Hi Alex,
    I’m with Ben. Unless you rely on your name to sell your pics (Ken Duncan, Peter Lik etc) then having that big name across is lame. Having the strip at the bottom is professional in my opinion and tell the viewer/buyer “This is Alex’s pic, here’s how I contact him and the strip will be gone when I buy it”.
    Looks classy too!

  4. My thoughts on the matter:
    The logo/frame is a touchy subject and it varies amongst photographers. Having a logo won’t make you look more or less professional. It will just give you an identity – if done correctly, of course – I’ve seen amazing photos obscured by their logos just because the photog thought it was more important to have his name BIG and clear across the photo than the photo itself. Using the linked example in your post (and sorry to bash the photog who took it) the name/title automatically draws my eyes to it. First thing I thought when I saw it was: Motivational Poster; I half-expected a funny subtitle, alas, it was just his name.

    Of course, I’m not saying that borders and names/watermarks are a bad thing. I do it myself but I try to keep it super simple and almost imperceptible at first sight. Why? Because I want to be remembered for the photo, not for a logo AND I want the viewer to focus on the concept or story, not on how fancy the border looks. The idea of marking my photos strives from people taking my photos and putting them elsewhere (like their facebook profiles). And I’m okay with that. I soon realized that the bigger the logo, the more prone they were to crop it out from the photo altogether, so I opted for pixel-sized fonts.

    Frames? It’s a constant style-battle. Some photos are better suited for them. Some aren’t. Some look about the same with or without them. I’ve gone back and forth on the matter and I decided to do it on a case-by-case basis. “but it shows inconsistency” as pointed out by one of my friends, to which I responded “I don’t give a tiny rat’s ass” I’m not here to sell a product or be a brand, I don’t have a defined style and I’m quite comfortable with that.

    So after all this rant, what I really wanted to say is: you decide where you want to take your photography, not because of what people across the internets are doing, but because it feels right. To me -right now- the next step is not to do fancy stuff on my photos, but to take my photos to fancy places i.e. a gallery, an exhibition, a museum. It’s ambitious and romantic, but I’ll get to, literally, frame them. Oh, the irony.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to give such a detailed reply Faby, I appreciate it.

      Your point about giving the photo identification when it ends up on social media websites is spot on. This is one of the reasons why I’m leaning towards giving my images a slight watermark so people can hopefully recognise my images and further develop my personal branding.

      At the end of the day, adding a logo and border to images is a personal choice and I hope I haven’t offended anyone that does so. It has been nice to hear the reasoning to why people are adding logos and borders as it has given me food for thought.

      – Alex

  5. Nice image – I love the sunlight coming from the right hand side, and how it’s highlighting the waves and rocks in the foreground.

    I agree with your comments about lots of new photographers using big logos/watermarks and borders…and often they also have some made-up company name (ie, “Joe Bloggs Photography”).

    I think you need to let your images do the talking – and don’t bother with borders and/or watermark 😉

    1. Thanks Martin for your thoughts. You might be able to guess the OCAU member I’m referring to 😉

    2. I’ve seen inappropriate borders / watermarks / logos on OCAU far too many times 😉

  6. Yeah borders are pretty ordinary. I add a small 5px border around mine in wordpress and that is all, just an edge. Big fat borders with white lines going through them and text are a bit ordinary. Sadly you kinda have to watermark a lot of the time and as Cammo said, it helps you get found, if trying to sell work.
    I need to fix mine up a bit, I really would rather it be about 70% opacity but thats not so easy to do with LR, though the shadow borders like Ben suggests are. LR3 will make things much easier. I could always do the watermark in PS but if you are bashing out a heap in a batch its too much messing around 🙂

    Keep up the good work Alex and all the best for your birthday !!

    1. Thanks Nige for the birthday wishes and reply 🙂

    2. I should add that that 5px border I add on my photos on my website is only there because the theme puts a 1px light gray border around it that does not look great, the black kinda hides it and makes the image sit in the theme a bit better.

      Black is never really a great colour for mattes on prints and its the same for on the screen really…

  7. yes, amateur landscape photographers seem to love their frames on the web Alex – imo, it makes them look even more amateur and shows no confidence in letting their style/technique/skill do the work. i can understand if the image is being sold and the customer would want to see the layout but it seems frivolous in any other case

  8. Simple answer – it looks shit don’t do it. Don’t even bother with watermarks. Awesome shot btw.

    1. Haha to the point, I like it. Cheers mate.

  9. And happy birthday.

  10. I agree the big borders and tacky logos add nothing to your photo and if anything, take away from it. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of doing it at one stage, but now I think a simple small watermark with your identity is more appropriate.

    Top shot by the way, I really like how the sun is hitting the waves.

    1. Thanks Matt. I must say though, you have managed to use them effectively in the past which is where most people seem to go wrong.

  11. Great shot, I like the processing too.

    A simple watermark will suffice Alex.. the simply approach you take and the photos do the talking for themselves. I would only do a border and fancy name for a shot I intended to sell, or for a shot requested for use by somebody.

    Dont let these thoughts detract from what you do best (pressing the shutter)

  12. Very nice shot Alex.
    I agree with majority of the above opinions. I am not a fan of the ugly borders and bold in your face image titles that a lot of photographers are using. I find them to be completely distracting. A subtle, well placed watermark is sufficient in my opinion.
    That is at least my view at the moment, who knows it could one day change.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Luke 🙂 I’m with you on this one.

  13. WOW ALEX!!!!!!! I’M STUNNED!!! your photos are impressive!! I’m going to include you to my reader so I don’t miss any of your post!!!

  14. happy bday Alex.
    +1 to avoid borders, HDR and bold type

  15. Hi,
    To HDR is a question that I find I am asking myself more and more these days – and I find it boils down to this (for me, at least!) – Does the shot look more realistic with the HDR than without it?.
    Looking at the before and after pics, I can imagine that the “eyeball view” is more like the after, than the before. Since you didn’t use HDR on the after, and still got a stunning result, why use HDR?
    I find that the shots I use HDR on are less realistic than the shots I tweak to look like how I remember it, so I am using less and less HDR.
    As for borders, yuck!
    As for logo – if you are trying to build a brand, use a logo – if you are trying to present your work, don’t.

    Just my 2c worth.

    1. Hi Shane,

      Thanks for your post. I agree, processing is all about whether it appropriately reflects the original scene and is what you saw through your eye when you pressed the button. Let’s not forget that RAW sometimes isn’t an accurate reflection and does require some minor adjustments.

      – Alex

  16. Style over substance? Get rid of all borders, logos etc. Borders sometimes work in some context, but just stick with the photos man.

  17. I agree with those who say that borders and logos are unnecessary, they take away from the photograph itself

  18. A great capture. This image looks almost painted. The depth is great and all the different areas in the image to study are outstanding.

    Lovely image, as always!

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