I'll warn you ahead of time. This post is a bit of a vent and the target audience is probably other photographers.
First a confession, I have used fake sun flares and other photoshop actions! I used them at a time when I was really struggling to figure out my "style" and I saw all these photos on facebook that had sun flare and warm sunset like backgrounds. I thought to myself, how do these photographers so consistently achieve this look?! I started googling and reading and was shocked when I learned that I too could achieve this look with just a click of an icon in photoshop. And...I joined the masses. I started adding in a level of falseness to my photos.
But I struggled with it. I was ashamed to talk about these photos with other photographers that I admired that I knew didn't use these. I always wanted them to look "real" so I would turn down the opacity, look at where the sun was in the photo, and struggle to perfect adding fake skies (never mastered that). I felt like I had pulled back the curtain and seen the magicians trick and I didn't like it. So, I stopped. Which I will admit is difficult when some of the most popular photographers use these tactics. I guess they are artists in their own way manipulating an image and creating something else. For me, I want to enhance what I already had. I want to be a true photographer with a craft and skill. This is probably why I've started using film. Film brings us back to our foundations in photography as an art.
You should know, you can still achieve those flares, glows and warm photos without faking it. But you have to practice and know what you are doing. These are some photos I took of my little muse this week. In order to achieve these flares, I had to pay attention to the light. I needed it to be coming in at the right angle. It was about 2 hours before sunset and I placed a tree between me and the sun to provide some filter. E was on the driveway so I tried to keep her in the shade of the fence while keeping her on the edge of that shade so that the driveway was bouncing up and lighting her face.
Not all of my photos will look like this because the situation, timing, and weather all have to be just right. I challenge my fellow photographers to move away from the actions and presets and shoot with raw talent and simple edits. It's like going without make up and showing your true beauty and skill.
I'm including some examples and then just some others of little E that I love!