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Thread: How much post-processing do you do?

  1. #1
    DDK's Avatar
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    How much post-processing do you do?

    Firstly, I'd like to say two things before expounding on the thread title's question.

    1) I'm posting it in this forum category because I felt it was more casually oriented than what the "Image Post-Processing & Printing" forum category seems to be like. If that is wrong, then apologies and if you're a mod, feel free to do the work you're not paid to do and move it

    2) I have very little experience in this so if it's a naive or seemingly stupid question, forgive me. At least I'll learn something from it.

    Ok, so, I'm curious to know just how much post-processing people do and what is considered too much or too little. At what point does an image cease to be 'real' and become 'fake'? Is it crafted from the very moment of clicking through framing, aperture, lenses, filters, colour correction, white-balance, etc.? Or is there a point at which an image loses its value due to over-manipulation? Is it better to get the best photo possible at the location and do as little post-processing as possible or is there a balance between the original image and later manipulation which delivers the best result? Where's Wally (just checking to see if you've read this far)?

    Personally, I hope to do as little post-processing as possible to achieve the most 'natural' and 'real' result. When I see soft water and smooth clouds and blended colours or models with all their blemishes removed, I kinda think it's a waste of what is already beautiful to begin with. Then again, that could be naive inexperience talking

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    pnodrog's Avatar
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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Post-processed to whatever extent it takes to get the result I am after. Usually if it looks unnatural or over-processed then I would feel that I have failed. However every now and again I do produce an image that has been obviously manipulated to produce an effect or an odd flight of imagination. With these only the most gullible viewer would assume that it is real.

    From an art perspective there are no rules other than it has to look right. For natural history, reporting etc it must remain true to what was there or happening.

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    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Unless you are doing something where realism is essential--say, photojournalism--it's really a matter of taste. I tend to like highly realistic images, so I don't do some types of processing that others do. However, I do a lot of macro, and small blemishes can seriously detract from some types of macro, so I often will spend time cloning out annoying spots, etc. But that's just me. My advice is that you should figure out what types and amounts of posprocessing deliver the results that YOU want.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Me: as little as possible. It bores me, usually. I’d rather be taking pictures.

    From a business perspective, on occasion it is better to off load it – that has been more cost effective to me.

    Yes: I do seek to get it as good as possible in camera.

    Yes every digital file I have made (for others to see or use) requires some degree of post processing – always sharpening – it is the nature of the medium.

    I shoot raw + JPEG(L) and I do sometimes use the JPEG file SOOC, but note “SOOC” (Straight Out Of Camera) has post processing which I have set, in camera.

    WW

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    With these only the most gullible viewer would assume that it is real.
    Gosh, L.Paul, do you mean to say that this image doesn't "look real"?

    How much post-processing do you do?

    Back in my drinking days, this is what scenery generally looked like about midnight on a Friday night

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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Hi Djoran. I think post processing is a critical part of developing the image you want. Whether it's because I'm a lousy photographer, or a I have an inexpensive camera, or the fact that camera's have limitations I would never consider not post processing. Here's just a quick run down of things I always need to adjust in my raw images: white balance, exposure, contrast, clarity, black, white, shadows, highlights, saturation and vibrance. When I say adjust this could mean just the slightest tweaking.

    Don't be put off by this list. Once you learn how to do it it can be done pretty quickly.

    Karm

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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    Post-processed to whatever extent it takes to get the result I am after.
    Exactly.

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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    How much post-processing?

    Depends on what my picture is for.
    Also, what aspects of the picture I feel needs editing(mostly sharpening ) .

    Otherwise, if the picture looks good SOOC ( which is rare ) , no need.

    ( btw, I mostly shoot for fun, so no need to stress out myself over editing. )

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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    This topic is a pet peeve of mine. The simple answer is that I do as little as possible, as much as necessary, and always more than I want to do.

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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Djoran: here is the best answer I can give as to how much post processing. When you bring the camera up to your eye, are you taking the image for what it is, or for what it can be?. If it is "what it is" than very, very little if it is "for what it can be" then as much as you need. Hope that answers you question some what.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    pnodrog's Avatar
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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Gosh, L.Paul, do you mean to say that this image doesn't "look real"?

    How much post-processing do you do?

    Back in my drinking days, this is what scenery generally looked like about midnight on a Friday night
    Looks real to me but you caught me after drinking a bottle of turps left over from some oil paintings I've been doing.

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    DDK's Avatar
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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Polar01 View Post
    Hope that answers you question some what.
    Thanks but it's not really a question I'm looking to find the answers to for myself. More that I'm interested in hearing what other people's answers are to the question for them. Hearing what other people think about questions such as this helps me get insight into the craft and the people within it.

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    Letrow's Avatar
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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    I try to get my photos as good ad I can in camera. I keep the camera settings (this is a Nikon D600 mainly) as neutral as possible.
    I don't shoot RAW, but JPEG mainly, because most photos can be manipulated just as easy if they are JPEG. RAW has some advantages if you get your lighting wrong, want to make a HDR or need to dramatically alter your white balance. But most of that can be done in Gimp too, it's just the extent of leeway that differs.

    Then I generally just adjust Levels, add a bit of colour vibrance if needed and finally apply a high pass filter by way of sharpening. When I need more contrast I make an extra layer, make it B&W and then overlay it on the original layer and tone it back till it looks right.
    For the majority of photos that works fine, the ones that need more treatment get more.

  14. #14

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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    I'm with the 'as little as possible' responders.

    I sometimes crop a little to improve the composition (I can get away with that better with my D600 than my old D200 !) and if I'm printing I apply a small amount of sharpening.
    To my mind most pics I see have way too much sharpening and often over-saturated colours. I like to keep it natural.

    (and always shoot in RAW to avoid jpeg artifacts from editing)
    Last edited by chrisletts; 15th May 2013 at 11:23 AM.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Hi Djoran - there are always a lot of interesting responses on the website here, and it really depends on your interests and philosophy. I find that most photographers would rather spend their time behind the camera and as little time as possible at post-processing as possible. I find this is especially true for commercial photographers; and in their case I have a lot of sympathy, as they are out there in a very competitive environment and need to be very efficient about their end-to-end workflow. Looking at famous photographers in the past, Henri Cartier-Bresson was well known for handing his rolls of film over to his lab and letting his printer get the best out of his negatives.

    The polar opposite was Ansel Adams, of course who wanted the best possible capture, but then worked his images in the darkroom to bring out the best in the raw materials that he captured in the field. I tend to be more along the lines of Adams; regardless of what you have done in camera; your interpretation is only complete when you have gotten your image looking the way you want in post.

    My camera never shows a scene the way I remember it; I guess remember scenes that are more saturated and contrasty than what the image looks like; so I generally tweak these in post. From an "artistic" standpoint, I generally find that signs, telephone wires, etc. don't really enhance an image. I'm pretty sure that if I were a painter, I would not paint these into the work. When I what an image should be like artistically; I can generally get a view in my mind's eye as to how I would like them to look.

    You ask home much time I will spend reworking an image; the answer is it depends. As an amateur, I can spend as much time as I want (or am able to). That will range from a few moments to generally no more than 10 or 20 minutes, but of course, there are exceptions.

    Time for an example, let me dive into a set I posted on this site on the weekend. I spent about 75 minutes driving to a ghost town I read about in the area, and when we got there, we found it to be in the middle of a construction site. To boot, the light changed from interesting to downright terrible by the time we drove there. Having invested the time, I decided to spend a few minutes at the site taking pictures, even though I wasn't sure that I would be able to salvage them. Based on the subject matter, I felt that I would likely end up doing a B&W conversion in the end.

    This is the image that I took:

    How much post-processing do you do?


    At a minimum, I knew I had to do some basic sharpening and the orange and black cones had to go, so I spent a few minutes rebuilding the bottom left corner using Photoshop CS6's Content Aware Fill tool for the heavy lifting and the clone stamp for cleanup. This was my intermediate stage:

    How much post-processing do you do?


    From here I went to the B&W conversion, looking for an antique look and a heavy vignette to hide the orange tarp and orange snow fence. After that a bit of output sharpening, cropping to a more printable size, and I felt I was done.

    How much post-processing do you do?


    Overall effort, perhaps 20 minutes. The rest of the set went a lot faster, as a lot of the 20 minutes was trying to define the look, and once I had that figured out, I spent no more than 10 minutes on any other image.

  16. #16
    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Quote Originally Posted by DDK View Post
    Thanks but it's not really a question I'm looking to find the answers to for myself. More that I'm interested in hearing what other people's answers are to the question for them. Hearing what other people think about questions such as this helps me get insight into the craft and the people within it.
    Then it's to whatever extent it takes for me to get an image I am happy with, be that as close to what I saw when I took the photo or as far as what I would like the final result look like which entirely depends on the subject matter.
    For example with macro work I usually don't have to spend much time. A little cloning, sharpening and cropping is usually all that is needed. If its not 99% right sooc then it's headed for the bin.
    With wedding or portrait shots sometimes I spend a lot more time editing blemishes, selective sharpening, cropping, applying filters, selective colour etc depending on what I am after as the final product.

  17. #17
    drjuice's Avatar
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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Two links are below. The first is a rock rose, just outside the west entrance to Yosemite. Total time to add effects: 1 minute 32 seconds


    How much post-processing do you do?


    At the time, I was experimenting with ways to give painting-like effects to my photographs. This is about the most I've ever done in the way of post processing.


    The second is a cabin in the hills of North Alabama. Total time (In FastStone Viewer) was 8 seconds.


    How much post-processing do you do?


    The only thing I've done to this picture is crop it (for 8.5x11 display) and then to resample that so it fits within a reasonably sized window.


    So, I think the important point here is just about what Dan (NorthernFocus) said, "As little as possible, and as much as necessary." I have no comment on his "always more than I want to do." ;~)

    I'm jes' sayin'....

    virginia

  18. #18
    jad's Avatar
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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    When it comes to color I prefer to keep the image as close to the real scene as possible. With color you can quickly make it look fake and unreal by pumping up the color. I have seen way too many HDR images that look cooked. I am guilty of that myself. I prefer to work in B&W because it gives me more freedom to create an interesting image and still stay believable. You will develop your own style from the things that interest you. Don't try to copy or mimic someone else with your work. Be yourself and you will make the kind of photographs you enjoy. http://johndoddato.blogspot.com/

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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    Hi Djoran,

    I believe there is no alternative for getting it as good as possible in camera. PP to me is limited to what I can do in PhotoScape. I like to get it as close to the mood of that moment in time as possible. Getting the light right is the most important thing to me. All you need to do is learn how to master camera settings to do as little PP as possible.

    Do what you need to do to make the image look like you want it to look like. Some people will love it and others will hate it.

  20. #20

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    Re: How much post-processing do you do?

    I do as little PP as needed. Usually it's the basic edits required when completing images at home in the digital world. Touches of exposure, contrast and sharpening covers about 95% of my photos. If I'm doing any more than that it usually means it's raining out and there is nothing better to do.

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