6. Post Processing

Some call it editing, some tweaking, and some, like me, we call it post processing (Pp).
As the name suggests, here we deal with the photos once they have already been taken. Blown highlights, deep shadows, details not enough, or plain need of some special effects, they all get sorted out right here. Do not be in the illusion that the pro photographers do not post process their photos, or that if you tweak them, you lack skill. There is nothing wrong, rather, post processing is one of the necessary parts of photography I would say.

Pp constitutes of absolutely everything thats being done to make the photo look better. But be advised, I feel it to be ethically correct that during Pp, the original photo should not be distorted. Put in the effects, change the contrast, change the color, go on, but do not add or delete details from the photo, thats my policy, but then again, ideas and outlook does vary.

While Pp, the big question comes up, how much available data is there for us to do the manipulations. This is where, the format wars, RAW vs JPG begins. In the film camera era, there was just one output from the camera and that was the negative. How you process the photo depended on how you treated the negative, partial prints, superpositions, etc…In the similar terms, we can call the RAW format as the negative while the JPG format being the actual print. There is not much flexibility regarding how much data we can pull and manipulate from the JPG format photos, while the RAW ones, are much bigger files and contain more data, hence, more options.

Pp has its side effects too. It makes the photographer complacent and careless at times, because, at the back of the head, the knowledge that the issues can be fixed is always there. Some people I know, they believe on taking the photo correctly in terms of the composition and aesthetics only. This is necessary, because in the end, how the photo looks matters the most. But, being technically correct also is essential. The more you manipulate a photo, the more noise or grain you will introduce to the photo. The quality degrades. So, the way I see it, take the photo as close to as how you would want the end product to be, little variations in the levels, let the post processing handle them.
Check out the photos underneath, they have been post processed on mobile apps…and yeah, these all are using cellphone cameras! Special thanks to my dear friend Miss R. Raja for putting up an awesome display pic in her account which  I have borrowed for my tweaking. The original photo is her property and she has the rights to it.

 Raveena Raja 20141030_093512    919893097638_Anne_Burn_Dirt

IMG_20141027_190539    IMG_20141027_190539_Anne_Burn_Flowery

IMG_20141025_153258     IMG_20141025_153258_Jean_Morning_Pint

IMG_20141001_100431     IMG_20141001_100431_Harry_Burn_Ground1

Cheers!

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3 thoughts on “6. Post Processing

  1. Writing some commets along with citation.
    “Blown highlights, deep shadows, details not enough, or plain need of some special effects, they all get sorted out right here.”
    — OMG, so wrong. This statement motivates a photographer to focus on more of post processing and less of capturing the actual scene. Please for God’s sake don’t frame it like this. post processing is used by all and even the tool in Photoshop the tools which we use are named after techniques used by non digital age photographers. But since it’s easy and free to do it digitally that doesn’t mean you should be doing it “out right here”. Post porcessing is for that last minute detail, and not special effects. It’s not about blown highlights. If you have consistently used post processing to check blown highlights then you are so wrong. Get your camera skills right. Would you really want to spend 2 hours after a session when you could do it then and there by spending 20 seconds more per photo.

    “Do not be in the illusion that the pro photographers do not post process their photos, or that if you tweak them, you lack skill.”
    —If you tweak them all then you seriously lack skill, or you are not a professional photographer. You pose, expose and capture the scene. Only post processed if like you are shooting a tiger and then the tiger notices you and is about to eat you. While running away you took an awesome shot but got the light a little messed up. If this is not the case then please don’t live on post processing. Frame the shots right. Expose properly, check light meter multiple times if necessary, get the right shot at the go.

    “There is nothing wrong, rather, post processing is one of the necessary parts of photography I would say.”
    — Having a camera is a necessary part of photography, having post processing is a luxury which you shouldn’t get accustomed to, if you really want to learn the good parts of photography. If not, then why even bother for waiting to click a photo, there are multiple drones which allow you to click photos from the comfort of your couch, get one of those and use a mobile to click the photo. It’s even better, click photos without even getting out of your room. 😛

    “But be advised, I feel it to be ethically correct that during Pp, the original photo should not be distorted.”
    —Have you looked at the first photograph, which you have “Post processed.” The whole bloody mountain is fucking invisible. That’s not diestorting then what is?

    “There is not much flexibility regarding how much data we can pull and manipulate from the JPG format photos, while the RAW ones, are much bigger files and contain more data, hence, more options.”
    —Have you ever wondered how the JPG format works. It’s a lossy compression (not going into the technicalities of matrix calculations), so yes the data will be low, but certainly DOESN’T lack options. It will just be a more noisier version of the RAW one. But YES, i do agree shooting in RAW is a better choice than shooting in JPG, and best would be shoot in RAW + JPG mode.

    “Pp has its side effects too. It makes the photographer complacent and careless at times, because, at the back of the head, the knowledge that the issues can be fixed is always there.”
    —Smoking is injurious but still they smoke. Your article just adds petrol to the flame by making Post processing an art.

    “…little variations in the levels, let the post processing handle them.”
    —Fuck, please don’t let them be handled by post Processing, that’s a sin you wouldn’t want to get habituated to. Get them correct the first time, only if you mistake then and there is no chance to retake then make them in pP session. Shucks man, how can you say that little variations in levels is okay. I am pretty sure you would always go for that S curve.

    1. Since you critiqued my post so minutely, I take it, it managed to keep you glued and hence thanks. Theres a saying from the place where I hail from, When people start voicing against you, understand that you are improving! So..I take this outright positively!
      Now, since you have dissected my post and commented with the citations, I believe its only fair for me to defend myself too!
      1. When I say that blown highlights and minute distortions can be handled, I absolutely mean to correct a photo, not create it! And I am sure you understand the difference. I would always be happy to spend 20 more seconds on the photo composition and lighting, but if I am in a hurry, proper focus takes preference, always.
      2. I get the impression that you assume that every photo that is being taken will be of a still life or a model, or that we should be able to stop time and “Frame the shots right. Expose properly, check light meter multiple times if necessary, get the right shot at the go”. It does not need to be a tiger chasing me, it can always be any fleeting moment, and at that moment, I would want a sharp photo, than a technically correct one. And…I believe, in the general sense, cropping, straightening, and the mere conversion from .NEF/.RAW to .JPG is post processing.
      3. I ll dwell on the luxury I get…rather than imagining things a bit out of reach! For me, taking photos from a drone, is still a bit far fetched, but god willing, someday, I ll try that out too! Thanks for the idea though!
      4. When I mean “distorting”, I mean manipulating the details! I am averse to adding a sun setting on the background, or maybe a howling werewolf on my subject’s head for dramatic effects. Vanishing/adding an object and emphasizing the subject are two very different things!
      5. Agreed, that shooting in a RAW+JPG format will be the best option, but sometimes, as in my condition, its either of them I must choose. Nikon D3100 doesnt have the option to shoot in both, hence I prefer the RAW. Also, my explanation caters to the le man, someone who is confused about what RAW/JPG is…and I daresay, the explanation is satisfactory for my targets!
      6. Its all about the choice. The options should be led out plain, and the choice should not be biased! Simple as that!
      7. Opinions vary…but by me, the photo should be such that it reflects the photographer’s intentions. If by changing the levels, it makes the photo look more dramatic or more beautiful or suits the photographer’s needs better…why not then! I, personally do not go for the S curve, but I go for what looks good to me.

      I also go with the thought, that without a good raw material, you cannot produce a good product. So, when I write my posts, I assume that the reader has a photo, that he/she considers good! Since there are no set rules of what good or bad is, I cannot comment on the choices made! In the end, a satisfied photog and a subject, happy with the result is all that counts. Maybe it sounds unprofessional, but hey, I dont plan to be a professional after all. Photography is my hobby, and I share what I feel!
      Your comments were much appreciated and I would be happy if you have a look at my other posts too and come up with excellent criticism, constructive that is! And yeah…when you have an opinion, kindly be proud enough to own that opinion…

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