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Post Processing

This is a discussion on Post Processing within the Photoshop - graphics programs - pluggins - for photography forums, part of the Education & Technical category; The difference between newbies and experienced photographers is that the latter see a lot more in a photograph. The reason ...

  1. #1
    tegan is offline Senior Member
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    Default Post Processing

    The difference between newbies and experienced photographers is that the latter see a lot more in a photograph. The reason is simple. We have had to spend a lot more time looking at photos to correct our own mistakes and bring out what the technology misses. We have also seen a lot more photographs.

    Despite the attitudes that some new photographers bring with them to this field, postprocessing is necessary for all photographs and it is not just to correct mistakes, but also to correct problems that are inherent in digital photography.

    Minor variations in colour temperature mean that colours are often not correctly rendered by the camera. A beige colour may look white or grey. A purple colour may look blue. White may look orange, blue, grey, or yellow.
    Processing is necessary to correct the colour.

    Despite the overall shot being correctly exposed, areas of underexposure due to shadows for example will display either little or no detail or desaturated colour. Either problem requires postprocessing.

    Minor exposure differences throughout any photograph result in minor colour differences too. A series of portraits of the same person, each with a slightly different skin colour would certainly not be acceptable, so here too postprocessing is necessary.

    Some cameras tend to easily blow out highlights or produce harsh dark shadows. This often needs to be remedied by bracketing in combination with postprocessing.

    I also recommend the picture puzzle books that are available in bookstores that show you two photos and you have to pick out 12 or so differences which are extremely minor at the more challenging levels. All the changes have been done in postprocessing and these puzzles train your eye to look more carefully at images.

    Tegan
    Last edited by tegan; 04-05-2008 at 10:33 PM.

  2. #2
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    I totally agree with tegan here

    And even BEFORE digital many great photographs (probably most) have been post processed.

    Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson and many other legends of photography all used techniques like dodging, burning, toning, applying bleach to whiten whites etc. during or after printing.

    I post process every digital shot I take somewhat. Just like I did in the darkroom.

    For me the issue that gets blurry is stuff like photoshop filters (like the posterize filter, warp filter etc.) or tone-mapped HDR imaged whose effects you could NEVER reproduce on your own without the aid of a machine. We call that postprocessing too. Some people call it blasphemy and I can totally see their point of view.

    I don't think that post-processing is an accurate term in these cases.
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  3. #3
    tegan is offline Senior Member
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    Perhaps postprocessing and editing is a more accurate description.

    The other basic concept is however that photography doesn't duplicate or capture reality so there is nothing blasphemous about processing or editing an image. As a matter of fact one popular magazine has already named the field: Photography and Imaging.

    To use an example, I once had to photograph a scene for the court, where a student had suffocated and died in snow that had been ploughed into a pile near a school yard. Any photographer knows that the focal length you use and what camera angle you take the photo from, determines the apparent height of the snow pile. My photos were the "reality" that the inquest saw, but postprocessing or editing would certainly have not been necessary to considerably distort that reality.

    Photos only create a limited, already edited by the lens, partial representation of a particular scene. This representation is already distorted by the lens and then processed by the chip technology.

    So, I find it silly that anyone would rationalize any editing or processing as blasphemous. On the other hand, unless the technical and compositional quality are present then it is still a poor image and should not be taken seriously as photography\imaging.

    Tegan
    Last edited by tegan; 04-06-2008 at 07:35 PM.

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    I also like that term postprocessing and editing!
    It's not blasphemy for me either , it's just something I think about - but I do understand the 'Purist' s point of view. I think calling it Photography and Imaging is more honest for many of today's shots and I like that term. Photography has changed because of software. Although we have always distrorted reality through lens choice, printing etc. that level of manipulation is miniscule compared to the warp filter in photoshop and any of its other possibilities.
    Last edited by Marko; 04-07-2008 at 01:28 AM.
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    Travis is offline Senior Member
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    Good thread..

    I think pictures fall into two distinctions -

    Realistic Portrayal - In which post processing is only used to advance the print closer to what the eye saw the moment the photo occurred.

    An example would be layering a properly exposed moon overtop a properly exposed horizon(both shot in the same moment). In this case, the camera's inability properly relay the truth provides a disadvantage to the viewer. Post is acceptable to reclaim the moment as the photographer viewed it.

    Adding or remove items in realistic portrayal are unacceptable because you would be fibbing. You are telling what is supposed to be a true story and are embellishing it via post.

    Fictional Portrayal
    - In which post can be used without limitation. The artist molds the photo to convey a certain feeling. This is a separate art form.

    I also think the viewer is owed the truth when making evaluation of a picture. It should be disclosed if the picture appears realistic but is actually fictional.

    My 2 cents....
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    tegan is offline Senior Member
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    Photography has NEVER involved realistic portrayal. The scene itself is irrelevant. It is the photographer's reality that rules as in what the photographer sees and HOW he sees it and what he feels is important or not important in a scene.

    Sophisticated photoshopping, taking things out of a scene and other edits are not fibbing at all. They are simply a way of expressing the photographer's vision. The product is his representation of the scene and if it meets the technical and compositional criteria of a good photo then that is the ONLY thing that is important.

    If the silly concern with realism is carried to its ultimate conclusion, someone would be complaining that some great photo in an art gallery is a fraud because the photographer cloned some garbage out of the shot. Ridiculous!!

    Tegan

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    Travis is offline Senior Member
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    "Photography has NEVER involved realistic portrayal"

    What?!? says who? This is my goal when taking pictures... I find the moments and the camera records them... the picture shares the story of the moment I found.. not the moment I made up or envisioned.... what you are describing in your post falls into #2 distinction of fictional photography.... there is nothing wrong with that.... but it is what it is.... fiction....

    photographer: Hey... take a look a my vacation picture on the beach

    viewer: wow... beautiful.... the sand looks beautiful

    photographer: Well... actually I found the actual sand to be a little brown.... so I photoshoped this sand in from another picture

    viewer: oh.... well... the water is crystal clear.. it must have been nice to swim in...

    photographer: the ocean had an film that was kind of green and foggy... so i swapped it with a picture I scanned of another destination

    viewer: okay.... the beach is so big and empty.... you guys were so lucky to have it on your own

    photographer: actually... there was 200 people there.... but i removed them when i switched the beach...

    viewer: well the sun is certainly blazing... where is your tan?

    photographer: oh it rained every day on my trip so I had to insert the sun and skyline from a picture I had at the cottage back home

    viewer: okay....hmmm.... well your sister certainly looked like she was having a fun time....

    photographer: oh... she didn't make the trip but as a photographer i envisioned her being there

    viewer: wow.... great holiday picture... i really feel like i was able to experience your vacation

    To me, I feel like I owe it to the viewer to properly represent the image with the integrity in which i found it. Anything else is fibbing.
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    tegan is offline Senior Member
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    What you are talking about is taking snapshots to document a vacation. That is not photography in the most accurate sense of the term.

    Snapshots are badly posed images of people in front of some monument or scene to prove that they were there. Snapshots do not win photographic competitions, do not end up as blow-ups on many walls, do not get published, and do not earn money for the snapshot taker. One big difference between snapshots and photographs is quality both technical and compositional.

    A snapshot taker in a fine art photography forum is somewhat of a contradiction. No wonder we are on different wavelengths.

    Tegan

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    Travis is offline Senior Member
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    my faux conversation was only meant to be an example of how over-editing while well intended, has no place in certain types of photography (aside from restoring the image due to limitations of the camera.)

    photography itself is just the process of capturing images. After that it must be sub-classified... real, fiction, snapshot, abstract, documentary, fine art.... whatever you want to call it...

    an image does not have to be heavily processed to be effective and/or successful in the eyes of the viewer... there are millions and millions of images in the world that can speak for themselves... they don't need manipulation..... there is room out there for a class of photographer who remains neutral and unbiased in documenting an image....

    i may be a newbie.... but i don't think i'm a snapshooter or whatever you call it... i also don't think that we are different wavelengths... just a difference of opinion on this subject...
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  10. #10
    tegan is offline Senior Member
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    [QUOTE=Travis photography itself is just the process of capturing images. After that it must be sub-classified... real, fiction, snapshot, abstract, documentary, fine art.... whatever you want to call it... [/QUOTE]

    With that sort of thinking, a photographer is not even necessary. A good digital camera can capture images. Is the role of the photographer just to put the camera in the appropriate location and let it capture images? In that view, photographers require NO skills whatsoever. No learning is required to "capture images" and there is NO difference between one photographer and another since both "capture images" in your view.

    No photography is real. All of it is representational and all of it reflects the photographer's individual view of the reality present in the scene.

    No photography is fictional since the photographer's perspective and decisions related to portraying the scene refkect what he considers to be his interpretation of reality and whether that involves editing the image or not, it is still the photographer's view of the scene and what he considers important.

    Photography does not capture anything. It represents the photographer's personal interpretation of a scene using the camera and all the rest of the appropriate technology and because it is personal and dependent on the limitations of digital imaging ,it will NOT accurately reflect the scene.

    Tegan

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