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Thread: Should we PP our photos?

  1. #1

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    Should we PP our photos?

    Hi All,

    I have enrolled and just started a class in creative photography. Our teacher is Maureen Rodrigues-Labrèche who is an accomplished photographer. Last semester I took a class in camera basics and our teacher (Joel Silverstein) was a commercial photographer.

    Even with one class of creative photography under my belt, I see a huge difference in the Artist photographer versus the commercial photographer.

    Joel promotes the use of PP of photos to fix all kinds of things in the photo. Stressing of course to get it right the first time as to limit the workload later. Maureen on the other hand will re-take the shot if the first was not correct and not rely on PP later.

    Reading the forum here I see lots of talk of Photoshop-ing the photo to fix all kinds of stuff. Are we at risk of losing photographic skill? Should we not keep on adjusting our settings in order to get the Perfect shot?

    I understand that there are some limitations of digital photography for certain aspects, and PP will give that extra help that the lens/body cannot provide.

    For you, is PP dependent on how the photo will be used in the end or do you consider it a necessity of digital photography?

    Looking for ward to your thoughts.

    Erik

  2. #2
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Hi Erik,

    It is an absolute necessity. (to get the best from an image)

    'Old style' film photographers did it when they printed - what's the difference?

    The ONLY category of photography that it possibly doesn't apply to were the old colour slide shooters (I was one), what was captured was what was projected, as there was no intermediate chance to affect a difference. That said, if you knew you had say, under exposed a whole roll/cassette, wasn't varying the time or temperature of the chemical processing possible?

    And anyone thinking shooting jpg hasn't involved some form of post processing needs to read their manual!

    That's my view, and I'm sticking to it

  3. #3
    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Post processing, at least in my hands, is mainly a matter of removing dust or water spots and minor tweaking of curves,colour saturation,sharpness and adjusting shadows, or dark areas in the image. I will dodge or burn if I need to emphasize or decrease the brightness in specific areas to improve the image. So far I have never used layers. Cropping is also something I rarely do. I also will occassionly clone out some peripheral item which is obnoxious to me (most frequently my shadow or a piece of junk in the fore or background).

    And the above is for images I plan to upload to a stock site. Family and vacation snaps are all shot in JPEG and I will only rarely do anything besides maybe remove red eye.

    I do find for the images I plan to submit commercially that they all need some tweaking to get them to look great. The main problem seem to be lack of dynamic range in the camera and consequently having to manipulate light and dark areas so the image is more what my eye saw at the time.

    All that having been said; I really don't like mucking about with images on the computer so I may be off on one end of the distribution range for use of PP. Taking pictures and looking at them I like; playing on the computer I don't

  4. #4

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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    In my opinion, a personal preference...what you want to do with your photos and how you want to present them, to whom your presenting, for what purpose and such Some may spend hours on one photo, some will just use the auto adjust....some nothing...there is no right or wrong.

  5. #5
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Hi All,

    I have enrolled and just started a class in creative photography. Our teacher is Maureen Rodrigues-Labrèche who is an accomplished photographer. Last semester I took a class in camera basics and our teacher (Joel Silverstein) was a commercial photographer. Even with one class of creative photography under my belt, I see a huge difference in the Artist photographer versus the commercial photographer.
    Joel promotes the use of PP of photos to fix all kinds of things in the photo. Stressing of course to get it right the first time as to limit the workload later. Maureen on the other hand will re-take the shot if the first was not correct and not rely on PP later. Reading the forum here I see lots of talk of Photoshop-ing the photo to fix all kinds of stuff. Are we at risk of losing photographic skill? Should we not keep on adjusting our settings in order to get the Perfect shot?
    Why would you be at risk if you use some kind of post-processing on your shots? What exactly is the risk that you are talking of? What is your concept of a "perfect" shot? What is perfect to you might not be perfect to your client in case you will sell or promote your services in the future. If your client says "Could you kindly lighten up some of my eye bags so I would look a little younger?" Isn't that a good form of post-processing?

    I understand that there are some limitations of digital photography for certain aspects, and PP will give that extra help that the lens/body cannot provide.
    I would definitely agree with you on this one.

    For you, is PP dependent on how the photo will be used in the end?
    I will again definitely agree with you on this one.

    or do you consider it a necessity of digital photography?
    I think this clause is dependent on the previous question that you asked. Do what pleases you most. Learn from others but don't copy them. Your creative side will guide you as to how far you can learn from an individual. Later on, as you mature in your photography, you will soon find out that the style of that teacher will not satisfy your creativity anymore and from there you would probably look for a more challenging and interesting mentor to consider. Later on, you would reach that state where you don't need a teacher anymore because you, the student and the teacher that you are looking for is actually just one. You are no longer concerned whether to PP an image or not. You are only concerned whether the result of your effort satisfies your own standard of photography. Good luck.

  6. #6
    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Sorry if I got off on some tangent there. I agree wholeheartedly with the need to process the image; whether as Dave said it is in camera for JPEG, or you for whatever reasons your artistic taste dictates. Digital images are rarely perfect as shot due to limitation with the physics and technology of digital imaging. How much you want to manipulate the image is solely up to you and what makes you happy. You just ran into two teachers with differing views of post processing as a tool. You could be like me who would rather drive hot nails into my feet than do more than the bare minimum on a computer or relish every creative second spent perfecting your vision of the final image. Your call.

    I think it is better to get the image as close to what you want when composing or setting up the exposure before shooting than have to manipulate the image excessively. Your end result is better and easier to get to.

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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    The main problem seem to be lack of dynamic range in the camera and consequently having to manipulate light and dark areas so the image is more what my eye saw at the time.
    Hi Trevor,

    The problem is usually more that the camera has too much dynamic range (typically around 12 stops), but we can only print around 4 stops, and display around 6 stops of that on our monitors - so usually we have to force areas to pure white and black to stop it looking flat.

  8. #8
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    I think both instructors are correct. But if you cannot do it right out of the box and can fix it in the PP then do it.

  9. #9
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    Post processing, at least in my hands, is mainly a matter of removing dust or water spots and minor tweaking of curves,colour saturation,sharpness and adjusting shadows, or dark areas in the image. I will dodge or burn if I need to emphasize or decrease the brightness in specific areas to improve the image. So far I have never used layers. Cropping is also something I rarely do. I also will occassionly clone out some peripheral item which is obnoxious to me (most frequently my shadow or a piece of junk in the fore or background).

    And the above is for images I plan to upload to a stock site. Family and vacation snaps are all shot in JPEG and I will only rarely do anything besides maybe remove red eye.

    I do find for the images I plan to submit commercially that they all need some tweaking to get them to look great. The main problem seem to be lack of dynamic range in the camera and consequently having to manipulate light and dark areas so the image is more what my eye saw at the time.

    All that having been said; I really don't like mucking about with images on the computer so I may be off on one end of the distribution range for use of PP. Taking pictures and looking at them I like; playing on the computer I don't
    If you don't use layers and masks you are missing out on photoshop's most powerful feature.

  10. #10
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Do I need to post process all of my images? That question reminds me of a guy asking his dentist if he had to floss all of his teeth. The dentist's answer was, "No, just the ones you want to keep!"

    I will totally agree that we should try to achieve the very best RAW image possible. Photoshop is not a cure-all and a crutch that allows sloppy photography to be turned into gallery quality images. Post processing, however, is a vital part of any image that will be viewed by anyone with photographic knowledge.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 20th September 2011 at 03:12 PM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Mark: I suspect you are right. However my lack of interest is more my failing than a reflection on the program or other photographers. I actually quite envy those of you with the skill and patience to use Photoshop to it's full potential. The results seem quite worth the effort. Just isn't my cup of tea. Maybe one day. (The day after hell freezes over ) or when the Canadian team beats the Al Blacks whichever comes first)

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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    or when the Canadian team beats the All Blacks whichever comes first)
    Don't worry, the AB's will probably choke at some point, again ... It might just be against Canada!

  13. #13
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Colin thanks for the insight. This is the sort of manipulation I do to avoid the nasty reflection off the highly reflective weathered wood surfaces, is this needed due to lack of dynamic range on the part of the camera?

    As shot in RAW
    Should we PP our photos?

    without burning to darken wood: curves,highlights and colour adjustment done
    Should we PP our photos?

    and final with reflection muted
    Should we PP our photos?

  14. #14

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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    I'd like to suggest that - so long as we're not trying to mislead anyone - then photographers decide for themselves how much or how little post-production they want to do.

    Personally, I always like to think of quality photography as being a multi-phase discipline - perhaps starting with an idea - progressing that to a plan - progressing that to preparation - progressing that to the actual capture of the image - and finally post-production.

    I think many (most?) would agree that it's best to get the image as good as possible in-camera (if for no other reason that it can save many many hours fixing basic things in PP) - but there are other valid reasons as well.

    This fun little shot is probably a good example; hiring a real helicopter would have been a little expensive, and possibly more than a little dangerous - but thanks to Photoshop, free and safe

    Should we PP our photos?

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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    Colin thanks for the insight. This is the sort of manipulation I do to avoid the nasty reflection off the highly reflective weathered wood surfaces, is this needed due to lack of dynamic range on the part of the camera?

    As shot in RAW
    Should we PP our photos?

    without burning to darken wood: curves,highlights and colour adjustment done
    Should we PP our photos?

    and final with reflection muted
    Should we PP our photos?
    Hi Trevor,

    No, not really a DR issue, as the camera appears to have captured everything asked of it. Issues due to lack of DR would show in the form of loss of highlight detail (whilst preserving shadow detail) or loss of shadow detail (whilst preserving highlight detail). If the former were the case here, you'd have blown highlights, and you wouldn't be able to recover the detail that you have (because it wouldn't have been captured).

    What you really have here is just lack of contrast, which is present in almost all images) - although in somewhat of a paradox, it's usually NOT the contrast control that fixes it (usually raising the black clipping point, and adjusting the brightness control).

    Sorry, not explaining things very well today, but does that make sense?

  16. #16
    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Clear; This was a pretty quick and dirty transform so I didn't get the brightness set properly (too rushed and forgot to finish it off ) However I now comprehend the difference between DR and exposure. I usually have to slightly overexpose these old buildings in RAW/initial to get the shaded wood details fully and the sunlit areas consequently end up as in the RAW image.

    Thanks

    By the way: I hope the All Blacks don't thrash us like they did the Japanese.

  17. #17
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Trevor,

    The problem is usually more that the camera has too much dynamic range (typically around 12 stops), but we can only print around 4 stops, and display around 6 stops of that on our monitors - so usually we have to force areas to pure white and black to stop it looking flat.
    Hi Colin,
    This comment has confused me... are you meaning our cameras can capture a huge range, but just not within one photo? If that isn't what you mean can you explain further for me, or send me to a thread where you've explained/discussed this before? Thanks!

    As for the original poster's question: I prefer my photos after pp, so even if they are just for my personal collection and I'm not posting them publicly or printing them, I will often spend time enhancing them in a way that I find more appealing than the original. For me, I also find that the time I spend with the photo in pp acts to enhance the experience of creating it; that moment in time when I was taking the image becomes extended and in some ways re-lived and re-created. I enjoy being immersed with my images in pp.

  18. #18

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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoByTrace View Post
    Hi Colin,
    This comment has confused me... are you meaning our cameras can capture a huge range, but just not within one photo? If that isn't what you mean can you explain further for me, or send me to a thread where you've explained/discussed this before? Thanks!
    Hi Trace,

    Sorry for the confusion!

    In a word, no. Assuming that your camera is at it's normal ISO setting (100 for Canon, 200 for Nikon) then it'll typically capture around about 12 stops of dynamic range in every exposure.

    Just a quick primer first ...

    If we're photographing reflective objects (ie things that have a light source shining on them, but the light source itself isn't visible in the shot, and none of the objects are in any kind of shadow (so just think "bride in a white dress and groom in a black suit, both standing outside on a sunny day"), then there will only be about 4 stops of dynamic range between them (with white being 2 stops up from middle gray, and black being 2 stops down from middle gray). You can verify this for yourself quite easily by simply spot-metering something black and something white outside -- you'll find about 4 stops difference (in aperture of shutterspeed) between them. And exactly the same for a typical print (after all, it too is just a reflective object). Monitors on the other hand have an active light source (they're not relying on light reflecting off them), so that can reproduce about 6 stops of dynamic range.

    So what's happening here is the camera is capturing more information than prints or monitors are capable of displaying. Perhaps a (good?) way of thinking about it could be if you write down the numbers 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, but make each number physically smaller in height eg 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, . . . . . - the camera captures the numbers all the way down to 1, but we can only "see" ("display or print") down to 9 or 7. So they're there - we just can't see them. So what we need to do is compress the entire 12 stop range into 4 to 6 stops. In Photoshop this is pretty easy - all one needs to do is just use (primarily) the fill light control.

    So much for the theory ...

    In practice, what this means is if you have a photo that's well exposed (like Trevor's first example), but you have shadow detail that's not showing - just use the fill light slider, and "all will be revealed".

    Does this help?

  19. #19

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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    Clear; This was a pretty quick and dirty transform so I didn't get the brightness set properly (too rushed and forgot to finish it off ) However I now comprehend the difference between DR and exposure. I usually have to slightly overexpose these old buildings in RAW/initial to get the shaded wood details fully and the sunlit areas consequently end up as in the RAW image.
    Hi Trevor,

    Over-exposing a digital shot is risky (albeit a RAW shot has a "safety margin"), but normally with reflective shots like this (albeit with a bit of backlighting from the sky), you should still be able to reveal as much timber detail as you want by using the fill light slider (see my post for Trace above for more of an explanation).

    By the way: I hope the All Blacks don't thrash us like they did the Japanese.
    I hate to say it, but I don't think it's gunna be pretty

  20. #20
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    Re: Should we PP our photos?

    As a brilliant man once said (or was it me?), pressing the shutter is the end of the first part of making an image. The second part starts when you upload the RAW file to your computer (or put the developer in the tank if you're shooting film).

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