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Thread: Post processing only when necessary?

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    jacsul's Avatar
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    Post processing only when necessary?

    Is it now commonplace for us to post image edit or do most edit only when necessary?

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    I personally edit evrything but it's got a lot to do with how I take pics. I tend to think out the camera isn't sharp enough and often something needs doing that my camera simply wont do (due to it being basic entry level point and shoot). For example most images that I have got as right as possible "in camera" need basic raw processing, denoising, selective sharpening, white balance adjust (perhaps) and maybe some other stuff such as faking shallow depth of field.

    Also I expose as much as possible (few test shots until just under the white clipping point) and correct in post if it's too bright. Why shoot brighter only to drag the black point up etc and make darker when I could just expose to that level in camera? Because it improves the detail and decreases shadow noise and the extra IQ is worth it when I compare them. Also heavier contrast images look better this way than if I captured for normal tones and pulled brights up and darks down (where as with this I just fiddle with darks a bit more and brights are not pushed up in post but actually what I captured).

    Just my opinion and prefered method. Not everyones cup of tea but it works for me and that's what counts. Hehehehe I mean what works for me is what counts with regards to me, not what I think counts more than anyone elses differing opinion (although that is clearly true also )

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    There are no photographs without processing. Do you prefer to automate it, or do it yourself, or some of both? Then there is only how much correction, enhancement, and/or manipulation is to your taste (or allowable under the rules of the project), and your opinion of where the line is between enhancement and manipulation.

    "In the very beginning, when the operator controls and regulates his time of exposure, when in the dark room the developer is mixed for detail, breath, flatness or contrast, faking has been resorted to. In fact every photograph is a fake from start to finish, a purely impersonal, unmanipulated photograph being practically impossible. When all is said, it still remains entirely a matter of degree and ability." -Edward Steichen

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    Probably depends on the desired outcome.

    If you're shooting holiday snaps and are happy with the outcome then probably not - if you're shooting world-class work for sale then there's no way around it.

    I've never once seen an in-camera generated JPEG that I couldn't improve upon.
    Last edited by McQ; 25th February 2009 at 02:10 AM. Reason: merged threads

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I've never once seen an in-camera generated JPEG that I couldn't improve upon.
    Makes sense considering automation is no match for manual input, of course I'm assuming the person manually processing knows what effect they desire and how to accomplish it. The only time automation is equal to manual is when it's a standard process that's been specifically tuned manually (including by others in the case of automation). By standard process I mean one that doesn't vary from what it's tuned for (eg. demosaicing a raw is always the same process because your sensor array doesn't change).

    I think everything I do automated that produces a result I like (not limited to photographs) is because I've refined it myself. Automation for these things when set to your liking can take the tedium out of things, for instance I can set my OS to automatically mount my hard drives and inserted removable disks without my input because I want access to my main drives and as for removable if I didn't want access I wouldn't plug it in. This automation works perfectly to my taste because I set myself when to mount, where to mount it and so on.

    Sometimes the automation process is set by someone else for an average situation, often in such cases the result is also average and there is a price, that being it's not tailored to your needs. Like tailor made clothes compared to ready cut average sizes tailoring anything manually to your needs is always better IMO. Obviously with holiday snaps or large volume of work you have to compromise for an average passable result, it may not be the best but if you've got deadlines, lack of ability or time to process a lot of stuff or a weeks unpaid overtime doing something surplus to requirements the perfect result is more about perfect workflow and less about perfect product.

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I've never once seen an in-camera generated JPEG that I couldn't improve upon.
    That sounds similar to the words my Photography 101 professor used as he took the class on our first tour of the darkroom. He said something along the lines of "99% of photographs can be improved upon beyond what comes straight out of the camera." A lot of folks call themselves "purists"; my college photography professors would have called them "lazy", and said "Get back in the darkroom, and do it right!"

    Most of the time it's just a contrast and color correction, and maybe burning in the edges a bit, but it even without Photoshop it could get a lot more complicated than that. Every year I'd choose a half dozen or so of my best 4x5 landscapes, and give them the full treatment. I'd work for weeks on those prints: unsharp masking, split contrast printing, complicated burning and dodging, split toning, etc....

    The difference between then and now is in the past only my best work got the full treatment because it was complicated and time consuming. Now even my family snaps get the full treatment because it's easy and quick. Does it turn my family snaps into masterpieces? No. But they do look nicer.

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    My understanding was that if you shoot RAW, you always have to do at least sharpening when you convert the format. Isn't that true?

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    I think you cannot live without post processing anymore.
    But for sure the starting point should be to compose and expose as good as possible when taking the picture.
    After that, with post processing, fine tune the image in expose, sharpen, ect.

    What I hear a lot, unfortunatly, is that people make remarks like:
    "Oh, you can fix this and that easy in Photoshop"

    I like to work with Photoshop but the most I like to photograph and see post processing
    as an exta tool to enhance quality.

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    It's rare that the photographer can control every single aspect in the creation of a photograph. Compromises are always made, and sometimes they affect technical image quality. There are usually multiple ways to deal with problems. For me it's not important whether the "fix" occurs in the scene, in the camera, or in the processing (darkroom or PS). What's important is whether it actually fixes the problem in the finished photograph under the constraints of the situation.

    "…it is seldom indeed that a composition which was poor when the picture was taken can be improved by reshaping it in the dark room." -Henri Cartier-Bresson

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    My understanding was that if you shoot RAW, you always have to do at least sharpening when you convert the format. Isn't that true?
    Digital cameras have an anti-aliasing filter that slightly blurs the image.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-aliasing

    The raw file as it comes out of the camera has no sharpening applied. Some sharpening is applied in-camera if the camera is set to jpeg. Most cameras allow for adjusting the in-camera sharpening a bit. The sharpening in Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw is supposed to be designed to deal with the AA blurring. A lot of folks then use more sophisticated local and global sharpening techniques in PS.

    Bruce Fraser is an often cited sharpening expert. He advises a 3 stage sharpening plan. 1) Take care of the AA filter blurring in the raw processor. 2) Apply local sharpening to taste. 3) Apply global sharpening based on output. This has worked well for me, but photographers are using plenty of other techniques too.

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    Hi Jacsul - I agree with previous comments re post-processing. All photos are post-processed. Films have to be developed and images printed from negatives - all of which involves manipulation of time, temperature, chemicals. Digital images have a "dry" darkroom - much better and quicker for ordinary work and much more interesting for special work. Ansel Adams is reported to have tried dozens of different chemical conditions for some of his prints.

    David

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    Working with RAW then it becomes automatic to pp, and I can usually achieve a better result than is created by the in camera sharpening.

    However, in this digital age, a lot of folk seem to regard pp as something that will correct all ills. It does not.

    I like the C-B quote above, just replace the word darkroom with Photoshop these days.

    Having grown up with film, and particularly transparency film, I still like to get the image as correct as possible at stage one. One, it saves workflow time and secondly, the discipline does create better shots in the first place. The workflow on most shots to me, is a case of tidying up the RAW to make a decent jpeg for printing, rather than dramatic alteration or correction.

    A particularly English saying sums it up; "You cannot create a silk purse out of a sows ear"

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    Jack,

    Just to add my confirmation that I always post process, not only because I shoot RAW mostly, but because I find there's always something to be improved; whether it be the removal or toning down of those things that were in shot (and beyond my control) or merely straightening a sloping horizon (oops).

    Everything else related above rings true for me too.

    Regards,

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    jacsul's Avatar
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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    When I was a teenager, I put together a makeshift B&W darkroom from a hand-me-down Bowden 2.25 enlarger, improvised print trays and a second hand processing drum.

    I had the most fun experimenting with exposures, stacking negatives, ect.

    From reading these posts, it seems our toys / tools leave us with endless possibilities.

    Thank you all for your input...keep'em coming.

    Jack

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    A good way to put image manipulation into perspective would be to read Ansel Adams' description of the darkroom work required to print his most famous photograph "Moonrise". You can find it in his book "Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs". To say that he polished it up a bit is an understatement. The finished print as it is popularly sold bears little resemblance to a straight contact print of the original neg.

    Ansel Adams "Moonrise"

    EDIT: I found this link to an excerpt from an AA biography. The link goes to page 189 where it begins to talk about how he took the photograph. Then it takes seven pages to describe the tweaking (sounds like fixing it in the darkroom to me) he had to learn to do to get a decent print out of the neg.

    Ansel Adams' bio on Google

    "Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships!" -Ansel Adams

    Some more links:

    combination printing

    Henry Peach Robinson

    Oscar Rejlander
    Last edited by Henry Peach; 26th February 2009 at 02:26 AM.

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    one note too about PP tools....photoshop, although top of the line I agree, is probably way too complicated for the most common users. There are now a number of PP tools out there (I myself use mostly Dxo) that will do a good job. Most camera manufacturer come with somewhat basic PP tools (DPP for canon, Nikon has Capture (I think))...PP with those can already do some good on a pic, and you don't need to pull Photoshop (well, that is if you could afford a photoshop license to begin with...)

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    Re: Post processing only when necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by atvinnys View Post
    one note too about PP tools....photoshop, although top of the line I agree, is probably way too complicated for the most common users.
    Photoshop is without doubt a VERY deep and wide program - however - I like to think of it simply as a toolbox containing a wide variety of tools; it's never intended for every person to use every tool on every occasion - just nice to know that they're there if you do need them. And from Adobe's point of view it makes the package suitable for the widest possible audience.

    On the other hand if there are other packages that do all that you need (in a way you find acceptable) then Photoshop probably isn't needed.

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    Demosaicing

    Just a question. If I save as RAW, do I have to use the computer to demosaicing?

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    Re: Demosaicing

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    Just a question. If I save as RAW, do I have to use the computer to demosaicing?
    I'm guessing that you're really asking "do you need to use a PC to convert them"?

    If so then the short answer is "yes".

    Domosaicing is one part - colourimetric interpretation is another - gamma conversion is another (but wait, there's more!).

    So a RAW file by itself isn't really good for anything - even the camera doesn't use it for displaying the review image on the LCD (it gets this from an embedded JPEG image that it creates).

    Does this answer your question?

  20. #20

    Re: Demosaicing

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I'm guessing that you're really asking "do you need to use a PC to convert them"?

    If so then the short answer is "yes".

    Domosaicing is one part - colourimetric interpretation is another - gamma conversion is another (but wait, there's more!).

    So a RAW file by itself isn't really good for anything - even the camera doesn't use it for displaying the review image on the LCD (it gets this from an embedded JPEG image that it creates).

    Does this answer your question?
    In a way yes. I was wondering if the camera demosaies the image even when saved as raw.

    Yup, you have answered my question.

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