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In Defense of Post Processing
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Dec 21, 2018 10:06:36   #
rond-photography
 
This is my first "new topic", and it may come across as a little bit of a rant, but I hope it helps guide some newbies.

Post Processing is dismissed by some as not being pure; the detractors feel that only photos coming out perfect in camera are acceptable.
I disagree, and I base that on over 40 years of shooting (so, yes, I have shot film!).

When I got my first SLR in 1971, I started shooting as much as I could afford - it cost money to buy the roll of film and money to get it processed (no option except to post process when you shoot film).

I was usually disappointed because my pictures never looked as I remembered the scene. Mostly, at first, I shot color print film. Skies were blown out. People were weird colors, etc.
It took me a while to figure out that part of the problem was the way labs processed the photos. When I shot transparencies (the jpeg of the film world - because it was pretty much whatever you caught on that slide was what you were stuck with, ala jpeg), I found that the camera actually could produce good photos, but the issue of color prints still bugged me.
Shooting black and white, then sending it to the lab, was no better.

Over the years, I came to find out that the award winning images that we see everywhere are NOT always Straight Out Of Camera. When I made my own darkroom, I found that there were tools such as dodging and burning that were commonly applied in a darkroom to almost every good print. Test exposures in the darkroom were the norm - you didn't just set the timer for 10 seconds and expose the paper - you made a strip test to see how long you needed to expose for the best overall image, and you saw where parts were blown out or under exposed and dodged or burned those areas, maybe even applying a vignette.

Color was trickier since home processing was less forgiving than black & white, but I tried it, and had moderate success (color correction was tricky and I never spent enough time or money to get that perfect).

Ultimately, I found that certain labs (not my corner drug store) could produce excellent prints from my negatives and stuck with them from then on.

In the digital world, we apply the term "Photo Shopped" to many images (but it should be post processing, since we don't all use PS any more than all photocopier machines are Xerox copiers). It is often used in a derogatory manner, sometimes deservedly so. It is definitely possible to over process a photo and make it look unnatural. This can be done to advantage for some subjects, but if every photo you take looks "crunchy", you might be overdoing it.
It is better to keep it simple and just use the techniques that were most often used (and most easily understood) in the analog darkroom.

I contend that you MUST post process. Otherwise, you will get those blah photos that the film users among us have seen again and again.
As the photographer, you owe it to yourself and your audience to process those photos in the best lab (your own), and not just take what the camera produces.
It is rare that I have taken a photo and simply exported it as a jpeg without it first requiring exposure, shadow, highlight, white balance, and sharpening adjustments at a minimum.
There have been several, out of about 100,000 digital images I have, that were good without any adjustments, but that is extremely rare.

In the digital darkroom, we use the same techniques used in the analog darkroom - dodging, burning, adjusting for the best exposure, etc.
I am a huge advocate of LightRoom because it most closely matches the analog darkroom - terms are different, but the results and techniques are the same.
PhotoShop, with masks, becomes more complicated, but also has those simple tools embedded in it, so keep it simple and make great photos,
but don't dis' post processing - it will improve your photos immensely.

| Reply
Dec 21, 2018 10:15:01   #
lamiaceae (a regular here)
 
A rational rant. I find little to argue with. Though if one shoots Raw you must PP a bit.

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Dec 21, 2018 10:16:01   #
Architect1776 (a regular here)
 
rond-photography wrote:
This is my first "new topic", and it may come across as a little bit of a rant, but I hope it helps guide some newbies.

Post Processing is dismissed by some as not being pure; the detractors feel that only photos coming out perfect in camera are acceptable.
I disagree, and I base that on over 40 years of shooting (so, yes, I have shot film!).

When I got my first SLR in 1971, I started shooting as much as I could afford - it cost money to buy the roll of film and money to get it processed (no option except to post process when you shoot film).

I was usually disappointed because my pictures never looked as I remembered the scene. Mostly, at first, I shot color print film. Skies were blown out. People were weird colors, etc.
It took me a while to figure out that part of the problem was the way labs processed the photos. When I shot transparencies (the jpeg of the film world - because it was pretty much whatever you caught on that slide was what you were stuck with, ala jpeg), I found that the camera actually could produce good photos, but the issue of color prints still bugged me.
Shooting black and white, then sending it to the lab, was no better.

Over the years, I came to find out that the award winning images that we see everywhere are NOT always Straight Out Of Camera. When I made my own darkroom, I found that there were tools such as dodging and burning that were commonly applied in a darkroom to almost every good print. Test exposures in the darkroom were the norm - you didn't just set the timer for 10 seconds and expose the paper - you made a strip test to see how long you needed to expose for the best overall image, and you saw where parts were blown out or under exposed and dodged or burned those areas, maybe even applying a vignette.

Color was trickier since home processing was less forgiving than black & white, but I tried it, and had moderate success (color correction was tricky and I never spent enough time or money to get that perfect).

Ultimately, I found that certain labs (not my corner drug store) could produce excellent prints from my negatives and stuck with them from then on.

In the digital world, we apply the term "Photo Shopped" to many images (but it should be post processing, since we don't all use PS any more than all photocopier machines are Xerox copiers). It is often used in a derogatory manner, sometimes deservedly so. It is definitely possible to over process a photo and make it look unnatural. This can be done to advantage for some subjects, but if every photo you take looks "crunchy", you might be overdoing it.
It is better to keep it simple and just use the techniques that were most often used (and most easily understood) in the analog darkroom.

I contend that you MUST post process. Otherwise, you will get those blah photos that the film users among us have seen again and again.
As the photographer, you owe it to yourself and your audience to process those photos in the best lab (your own), and not just take what the camera produces.
It is rare that I have taken a photo and simply exported it as a jpeg without it first requiring exposure, shadow, highlight, white balance, and sharpening adjustments at a minimum.
There have been several, out of about 100,000 digital images I have, that were good without any adjustments, but that is extremely rare.

In the digital darkroom, we use the same techniques used in the analog darkroom - dodging, burning, adjusting for the best exposure, etc.
I am a huge advocate of LightRoom because it most closely matches the analog darkroom - terms are different, but the results and techniques are the same.
PhotoShop, with masks, becomes more complicated, but also has those simple tools embedded in it, so keep it simple and make great photos,
but don't dis' post processing - it will improve your photos immensely.
This is my first "new topic", and it may... (show quote)


I believe Ansel Adams manipulated the photo in the darkroom (AKA today Photo Shop).

| Reply
Dec 21, 2018 10:22:12   #
Peteso
 
I have a very similar background with darkroom experience going back to the mid-60s, and could not agree more. I would also add the following... Shooting snapshots is not an art, but "photography" IS an art. Just as darkrooms were an art, so are digital darkrooms. Like any art, mastering digital darkrooms takes training, experience, judgment, skill...and a whole lot of time. Also, when you shoot in JPEG, what comes out of the camera is "processed" by the camera software, albeit, not well, and certainly the processed image is not some form of "purity." If you shoot with different cameras made by different manufacturers, you'll get different results, because different cameras use different software. If you want "pure," shoot in RAW and then print what's produced by the camera in it's "purest" digital form; you almost certainly NOT be very happy with the result. Hope this (rant?) helps!

| Reply
Dec 21, 2018 10:24:05   #
bsprague (a regular here)
 
Adusting, aiming and recording is "shooting". Creating a view that communicates a feeling, an emotion or idea is "photography".

As a Lightroom photographer, do you miss your old darkroom? Mine was a dream come true but had to abandon it due to a job move.

| Reply
Dec 21, 2018 10:26:35   #
gilpog
 
Not only did Adams manipulate the prints, he also worked on the negatives in order to get the image he pre-visualized. I am a heavy user of PP. The entire history of developing the algorithms was to enhance pictures. Furthermore, there is no way that a camera sensor can reproduce all the nuances of a scene. Hooray for PP!

| Reply
Dec 21, 2018 10:27:13   #
Delderby (a regular here)
 
rond-photography wrote:
This is my first "new topic", and it may come across as a little bit of a rant, but I hope it helps guide some newbies.

Post Processing is dismissed by some as not being pure; the detractors feel that only photos coming out perfect in camera are acceptable.
I disagree, and I base that on over 40 years of shooting (so, yes, I have shot film!).

When I got my first SLR in 1971, I started shooting as much as I could afford - it cost money to buy the roll of film and money to get it processed (no option except to post process when you shoot film).

I was usually disappointed because my pictures never looked as I remembered the scene. Mostly, at first, I shot color print film. Skies were blown out. People were weird colors, etc.
It took me a while to figure out that part of the problem was the way labs processed the photos. When I shot transparencies (the jpeg of the film world - because it was pretty much whatever you caught on that slide was what you were stuck with, ala jpeg), I found that the camera actually could produce good photos, but the issue of color prints still bugged me.
Shooting black and white, then sending it to the lab, was no better.

Over the years, I came to find out that the award winning images that we see everywhere are NOT always Straight Out Of Camera. When I made my own darkroom, I found that there were tools such as dodging and burning that were commonly applied in a darkroom to almost every good print. Test exposures in the darkroom were the norm - you didn't just set the timer for 10 seconds and expose the paper - you made a strip test to see how long you needed to expose for the best overall image, and you saw where parts were blown out or under exposed and dodged or burned those areas, maybe even applying a vignette.

Color was trickier since home processing was less forgiving than black & white, but I tried it, and had moderate success (color correction was tricky and I never spent enough time or money to get that perfect).

Ultimately, I found that certain labs (not my corner drug store) could produce excellent prints from my negatives and stuck with them from then on.

In the digital world, we apply the term "Photo Shopped" to many images (but it should be post processing, since we don't all use PS any more than all photocopier machines are Xerox copiers). It is often used in a derogatory manner, sometimes deservedly so. It is definitely possible to over process a photo and make it look unnatural. This can be done to advantage for some subjects, but if every photo you take looks "crunchy", you might be overdoing it.
It is better to keep it simple and just use the techniques that were most often used (and most easily understood) in the analog darkroom.

I contend that you MUST post process. Otherwise, you will get those blah photos that the film users among us have seen again and again.
As the photographer, you owe it to yourself and your audience to process those photos in the best lab (your own), and not just take what the camera produces.
It is rare that I have taken a photo and simply exported it as a jpeg without it first requiring exposure, shadow, highlight, white balance, and sharpening adjustments at a minimum.
There have been several, out of about 100,000 digital images I have, that were good without any adjustments, but that is extremely rare.

In the digital darkroom, we use the same techniques used in the analog darkroom - dodging, burning, adjusting for the best exposure, etc.
I am a huge advocate of LightRoom because it most closely matches the analog darkroom - terms are different, but the results and techniques are the same.
PhotoShop, with masks, becomes more complicated, but also has those simple tools embedded in it, so keep it simple and make great photos,
but don't dis' post processing - it will improve your photos immensely.
This is my first "new topic", and it may... (show quote)


Sounds as if you don't know about Pre-Processing your camera, which you should be able to set up for WB, Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness etc. If you really know your camera such settings can be adjusted in seconds.

| Reply
Dec 21, 2018 10:28:46   #
Tomcat5133
 
I don't know many people that call PP not pure. Photo Shopped is now being down in huge complexes in NY etc by talented trained artists for the cover of every magazine web shots etc.
Movies done with video or almost 100% color graded. Shot as you know in a light grey and laundered by colorists to optimize. It appears that b&w is now usually down by importing
a color shot into PP and tuning up as b&w. I dont know what pure is Robert Frank and Ansel Adams etc. Someone recently here posted a youtube video showing many creations to be
created by assembly. Robert Franks girl in an elevator was assembled in a dark room. Their are image makers that make a lot of HDR's. Which is a very hyper surreal look.
The difference is I pull stills from Sony 10 bit XDCam video for PR stills of sport events I shoot like triathlons. I have to work on them now. No choice. I keep it simple
in PS. Light & Dark adjustments, push saturation a bit and sharpen hopefully not too much. Client loves these photos. Could not give them untouched images anymore.
A gentlemen a couple of days ago mentioned that some take PP to a garish look. A while ago I questioned some PP in a my own post topic. And got hit with a storm like Ansel Adams did it.
So what is your question. Who likes pure?? I will tell you like fine art some of this works and some is awful. Just do you work the way you want. Good luck.

PS in journalistic photography ethics are an issue. Putting more smoke into a battle scene for me is not good.

| Reply
Dec 21, 2018 10:29:11   #
lamiaceae (a regular here)
 
Architect1776 wrote:
I believe Ansel Adams manipulated the photo in the darkroom (AKA today Photo Shop).


Exactly!

| Reply
Dec 21, 2018 10:29:39   #
Mac
 
rond-photography wrote:
This is my first "new topic", and it may come across as a little bit of a rant, but I hope it helps guide some newbies.

Post Processing is dismissed by some as not being pure; the detractors feel that only photos coming out perfect in camera are acceptable.
I disagree, and I base that on over 40 years of shooting (so, yes, I have shot film!).

When I got my first SLR in 1971, I started shooting as much as I could afford - it cost money to buy the roll of film and money to get it processed (no option except to post process when you shoot film).

I was usually disappointed because my pictures never looked as I remembered the scene. Mostly, at first, I shot color print film. Skies were blown out. People were weird colors, etc.
It took me a while to figure out that part of the problem was the way labs processed the photos. When I shot transparencies (the jpeg of the film world - because it was pretty much whatever you caught on that slide was what you were stuck with, ala jpeg), I found that the camera actually could produce good photos, but the issue of color prints still bugged me.
Shooting black and white, then sending it to the lab, was no better.

Over the years, I came to find out that the award winning images that we see everywhere are NOT always Straight Out Of Camera. When I made my own darkroom, I found that there were tools such as dodging and burning that were commonly applied in a darkroom to almost every good print. Test exposures in the darkroom were the norm - you didn't just set the timer for 10 seconds and expose the paper - you made a strip test to see how long you needed to expose for the best overall image, and you saw where parts were blown out or under exposed and dodged or burned those areas, maybe even applying a vignette.

Color was trickier since home processing was less forgiving than black & white, but I tried it, and had moderate success (color correction was tricky and I never spent enough time or money to get that perfect).

Ultimately, I found that certain labs (not my corner drug store) could produce excellent prints from my negatives and stuck with them from then on.

In the digital world, we apply the term "Photo Shopped" to many images (but it should be post processing, since we don't all use PS any more than all photocopier machines are Xerox copiers). It is often used in a derogatory manner, sometimes deservedly so. It is definitely possible to over process a photo and make it look unnatural. This can be done to advantage for some subjects, but if every photo you take looks "crunchy", you might be overdoing it.
It is better to keep it simple and just use the techniques that were most often used (and most easily understood) in the analog darkroom.

I contend that you MUST post process. Otherwise, you will get those blah photos that the film users among us have seen again and again.
As the photographer, you owe it to yourself and your audience to process those photos in the best lab (your own), and not just take what the camera produces.
It is rare that I have taken a photo and simply exported it as a jpeg without it first requiring exposure, shadow, highlight, white balance, and sharpening adjustments at a minimum.
There have been several, out of about 100,000 digital images I have, that were good without any adjustments, but that is extremely rare.

In the digital darkroom, we use the same techniques used in the analog darkroom - dodging, burning, adjusting for the best exposure, etc.
I am a huge advocate of LightRoom because it most closely matches the analog darkroom - terms are different, but the results and techniques are the same.
PhotoShop, with masks, becomes more complicated, but also has those simple tools embedded in it, so keep it simple and make great photos,
but don't dis' post processing - it will improve your photos immensely.
This is my first "new topic", and it may... (show quote)


I have no problem with PP, I do it myself. What I object to is the attitude that seems to be gaining prevalence these days of "Take a picture and fix it in post." It has gotten to the extreme of changing the background and/or foreground. I read a story in Light Stalking a couple of days ago that showed portraits of people who weren't real people. The portraits were created out of thin air by AI. Is that what is coming? No need for cameras at all, just let AI do it?

| Reply
Dec 21, 2018 10:35:40   #
Ched49
 
I get what your saying, I think it all comes down to...who are you photographing for, yourself or an audience.

| Reply
Dec 21, 2018 10:43:45   #
mwsilvers (a regular here)
 
rond-photography wrote:
This is my first "new topic", and it may come across as a little bit of a rant, but I hope it helps guide some newbies.

Post Processing is dismissed by some as not being pure; the detractors feel that only photos coming out perfect in camera are acceptable.
I disagree, and I base that on over 40 years of shooting (so, yes, I have shot film!).

When I got my first SLR in 1971, I started shooting as much as I could afford - it cost money to buy the roll of film and money to get it processed (no option except to post process when you shoot film).

I was usually disappointed because my pictures never looked as I remembered the scene. Mostly, at first, I shot color print film. Skies were blown out. People were weird colors, etc.
It took me a while to figure out that part of the problem was the way labs processed the photos. When I shot transparencies (the jpeg of the film world - because it was pretty much whatever you caught on that slide was what you were stuck with, ala jpeg), I found that the camera actually could produce good photos, but the issue of color prints still bugged me.
Shooting black and white, then sending it to the lab, was no better.

Over the years, I came to find out that the award winning images that we see everywhere are NOT always Straight Out Of Camera. When I made my own darkroom, I found that there were tools such as dodging and burning that were commonly applied in a darkroom to almost every good print. Test exposures in the darkroom were the norm - you didn't just set the timer for 10 seconds and expose the paper - you made a strip test to see how long you needed to expose for the best overall image, and you saw where parts were blown out or under exposed and dodged or burned those areas, maybe even applying a vignette.

Color was trickier since home processing was less forgiving than black & white, but I tried it, and had moderate success (color correction was tricky and I never spent enough time or money to get that perfect).

Ultimately, I found that certain labs (not my corner drug store) could produce excellent prints from my negatives and stuck with them from then on.

In the digital world, we apply the term "Photo Shopped" to many images (but it should be post processing, since we don't all use PS any more than all photocopier machines are Xerox copiers). It is often used in a derogatory manner, sometimes deservedly so. It is definitely possible to over process a photo and make it look unnatural. This can be done to advantage for some subjects, but if every photo you take looks "crunchy", you might be overdoing it.
It is better to keep it simple and just use the techniques that were most often used (and most easily understood) in the analog darkroom.

I contend that you MUST post process. Otherwise, you will get those blah photos that the film users among us have seen again and again.
As the photographer, you owe it to yourself and your audience to process those photos in the best lab (your own), and not just take what the camera produces.
It is rare that I have taken a photo and simply exported it as a jpeg without it first requiring exposure, shadow, highlight, white balance, and sharpening adjustments at a minimum.
There have been several, out of about 100,000 digital images I have, that were good without any adjustments, but that is extremely rare.

In the digital darkroom, we use the same techniques used in the analog darkroom - dodging, burning, adjusting for the best exposure, etc.
I am a huge advocate of LightRoom because it most closely matches the analog darkroom - terms are different, but the results and techniques are the same.
PhotoShop, with masks, becomes more complicated, but also has those simple tools embedded in it, so keep it simple and make great photos,
but don't dis' post processing - it will improve your photos immensely.
This is my first "new topic", and it may... (show quote)

Honestly, post processing does not need a defense. Many of those who criticize its use don't really understand its purpose and use, and a lot of them find their mediocre out of the camera images acceptable. Some people deride the sometimes gross overprocessing that often is used by those who believe that if a little processing is good, than a lot of processing must be better. And then, of course, are the "purists" who either believe that the engineer designed algorithms do a better job of rendering a final image than we can do in post processing, or fail to understand that all jpegs are already post processed in camera using default and user updated settings for things like white-balance, contrast, sharpening, tones, etc. I know what post processing is, what it does, and its numerous and very clear advantages over jpegs SOOC, and don't need to defend using it to anyone. As a rule I generally ignore the arguments of those who think that post's only advantage is to fix poor exposures. It's their loss.

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Dec 21, 2018 10:45:17   #
Strodav (a regular here)
 
Photography is a beautiful blend of art and science. Why shouldn't I use the science to improve my art? With that said, my personal philosophy is to record the best image in the camera that I can, but I'm human and get it wrong more often that I care to admit. Its great I have tools to fix my screw ups.

| Reply
Dec 21, 2018 10:47:13   #
Linda From Maine (a regular here)
 
In this main discussion forum, you will sway no one who isn't already a disciple, and saying "in defense of" only invites argument.

I browsed your website and was inspired by your artistry and vision. Please consider posting photos in the new Landscape Forum, with perhaps a how-to or other "theme" - something that will invite discussion and encourage learning.

You can view the welcome doc here and see other topics via their home page: https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/s-132-1.html

For all UHH's specialty forums, see "all sections" at the bottom of this page. For Your Consideration is another section for teaching, learning, informal feedback, and discussion.

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Dec 21, 2018 10:57:36   #
rond-photography
 
Architect1776 wrote:
I believe Ansel Adams manipulated the photo in the darkroom (AKA today Photo Shop).


I have heard that a famous photographer tried and tried to duplicate a shot he made of Half Dome, but could never get a decent sky.
When she talked to someone at the Ansel Adams Gallery, who knew Ansel, she was told that he didn't like the skies he got either, and
he layered the negative with a masked negative of a good sky!

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