How Much Post Processing Do You Do?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by acearchie, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #1
    Hi guys,

    Since I'm on my summer holidays I have got more and more into my photography (buying a camera helps) and I find that with lightroom I am able to get some really nice photos (to the style that suits me).

    I was wondering how many others rely on lightroom/aperture/photoshop to process their photos and I was wondering whether we could get some before and afters posted to see the extent of how useful these programs are?

    I realise that the best way is to get a great photo in camera but sometimes on a limited budget and with no great natural light lightroom has to make up the difference!

    Here is a photo that I took yesterday that I liked the look of so I took it into lightroom and after about 5-10mins I had the 'after' picture as seen in photo of the day!

    Before:
    [​IMG]

    After:
    [​IMG]


    This is probably old hat to most people but I think because I have finally been able to purchase a digital camera I didn't realise how much detail was retained in the RAW files and therefore I would be keen to see how everyone else's post processing works out!

    Cheers!
     
  2. macrumors 68000

    fcortese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Big Sky country
    #2
    I use Aperture with Gavin Seim's Lightflow1.3 pre-set. I also did some tweaking with Photoshop on this one to get rid of the lens flare.
    Before:
    [​IMG]

    After:
    [​IMG]
     
  3. macrumors 6502

    emorydunn

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2006
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    #3
    I edit almost exclusively in Aperture. I've found that with most of my photos (and with most photos in general) they can be made better with simple adjustments.

    Of course, because I'm only doing slight enhancements there's isn't a big difference between the original and the edited. But I will post a recent photo that I did actually bring into Photoshop for edited, although it's still basic edits they are more complex.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    #4
    For me it depends on what kind of look I'm shooting for. Most of the time I bump up contrast, level the levels :))), apply some basic sharpening and maybe white balance if the camera didn't auto it right. All of this is from a couple of presets with Aperture and quick slider adjustments. Sometimes I apply a vignette if I think the picture needs it. If I have areas that are too dark, then I will bring out the dodge tool to lighten them.

    B&W conversions are more work to get the desired look right. Then there are the pictures that need a totally different look from the original, so they get a lot more post processing done. I'll show some examples later as I'm not at my person system where I can get to the before and after versions.
     
  5. macrumors demi-god

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #5
    I'm a big believer in trying to get it right in the camera. The ideal, for me, is a pic that needs a bare minimum of tweaking: typically a small increase in saturation and contrast. Small adjustments can make a good pic better, IMO, but can't really 'rescue' a second-rate pic.

    I think it's a really good discipline to get things right(ish) at the 'taking' stage: taking a bit more time and trouble... when it counts the most...
     
  6. h00ligan, Jul 15, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011

    macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2003
    Location:
    A hot desert
    #6
    Levels and sharpening. Sometimes I play with color. For web sharpening nothing beats photoshop step sharpening.

    In this shot, for example, both have levels, and I wanted to see what some cross processing could do. There are some who assert these things should not be done, I don't really get that. They have been done long before digital.

    The cross processed, obviously, is on top. Each has a different quality, the top is more dramatic, the bottom has more depth. I do agree as I continue to learn that I should try to avoid utilizing effects to hide a bad shot.. and I also understand why some consider things like instagram to be the autotune of photography.

    In this case, the top image is what I had in mind when shooting, and is not actually all that manipulated... though I could have used a dodge and burn instead of global contrast to retain depth.. frankly at these sizes it is irrelevant (to me)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    acearchie - that shot looks underexposed.. and that's one thing I try not to correct in post. Although there isn't always a way to get a 'correct exposure' for subject and background so sometimes dynamic range needs to be opened up in lightroom etc. What kind of camera did you use

    I metered to the sun in my shot.. it still had issues to be fixed...
     
  7. macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Over there------->
    #7
    It really depends on the type of photography you're doing--how much is 'captured' versus how much is imagined. For a straightforward landscape photo, for example, much of what "works" can be accomplished at the moment of capture. More fanciful/romantic/surreal photos, however, might require some extended artistry. You'll also need to do more post-processing on images that demand more than any camera or shooting conditions can provide.

    I think the important thing is to be able to walk away from a photo that really should fall into the first category; in other words, don't try to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. If what bothers you about the photo is something best corrected by reshooting, then go reshoot it, or else admit that it didn't work out and move on to something else. But if while looking at a photo, you see something you can add or pull out of it in post that will make it hum for you, then go for it; that part of the creative process can be very rewarding.
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2008
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    #8
    Its amazing to realize how much digital photography has increased our reliance on post processing... back in the day I shot everything on slide film, and you only had one chance (or a quick succession of chances) to try and get it right.

    I think that laboring to "get it right" in camera in a type of discipline that, over time, makes you a more sensitive photographer. It gives you a better understanding of the mechanics of photography and of light itself. It is a life-long learning process and mistakes do get made... that is what lightroom is for!
     
  9. macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #9
    Ilfo/Cibachromes dodged and burned just as easily as prints from negatives- only no safelight! ;)

    Just because you try to get it right in camera doesn't mean post-processing is bad- there are things you can't do in camera. I tend to run most of my images through film tonal curves for instance- K64 being my favorite. You don't have to make mistakes to want to post-process.

    Paul
     
  10. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2008
    #10
    Plus cibachrome paper and chemistry wasn't cheap. If you were making mistakes, then it adds up. Better to get it right in the camera.
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Location:
    New York
    #11
    http://www.amazon.com/Print-Ansel-Adams-Photography/dp/0821221876

    it's not a digital thing, most of us (photographers) have been shaping and sculpting our negatives, etc. into what we saw/felt when taking the shot

    crafting a fine print interpretation of my negatives was always just as much of my process as shooting. with digital, i can now do the same for color work.

    when i get home, i'll post some examples...
     
  12. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Location:
    New York
    #12
    in some cases, that can only take you so far
     
  13. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
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    New York
    #13
    true

    i think some folks think of the term "post-processing" as "rescuing sloppy work"
     
  14. macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #14
    You mistake processing for errors. Dodging and burning to adjust for film latitude isn't a matter of getting it "right," it's also matter of the tool (film) not being able to capture the range completely, or the lighting not being right, or something not appealing being in the image that you can't effect- plus sometimes the camera can't capture the mood you envision, which is all a part of making art. Spending time at the enlarger wasn't always a matter of not getting it "right" in camera.

    IMO, not using all the tools at your fingertips to get the best image you can is more not getting it right.

    Paul
     
  15. macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #15
    I find the metering in my 7D will occasionally under-exposes the shot (as in the OP's before image).

    Whether I fuss with exposure compensation at the point of capture or later in Aperture... it doesn't really matter (thanks to the benefits of RAW). It really depends on what time I have to get it right at the point of capture, the patience of my subject, the importance of the shot, etc.

    What's most important to get right at the point of capture: focus. There's no adjustment for that in post. :p

    The only adjustment I make to every photo: sharpening. The 7D anti-mosaic filtering/processing forces it.
     
  16. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2003
    Location:
    A hot desert
    #16
    Well look at something like color efex. Film photographers chose the film for the mood. If a digital photographer wants to have the same choice after capture I don't see that as an issue.

    Obviously anyone in fashion is heavily manipulating.
     
  17. Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #17
    I see the capture as part of an overall process. It's about the final image however that is achieved. I do almost all my processing and alterations in Aperture with only a few images ending up in Photoshop. This was all Aperture.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. macrumors 68000

    BJMRamage

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    #18
    No pictures on hand but I seem to stick to very subtle bumps. Be it contrast/color and then some sharpening. Maybe adding some warmer tones for skin but otherwise very minimal post-processing. There was a time when I'd have a "smorgasbord" of actions in PS and would try different variations but now I know just a few tweaks can help a good photo turn great and a lot less time. And recently, I've done a lot of work just in iPhoto without the aid of PS.

    One day soon I may upgrade to Aperture or Lightroom to give me a slightly more robust bunch of tools and slighter tweaking without the need to open PS.
     
  19. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #19
    There is a reason why Photoshop is called the "digital darkroom". To me, the mindset of shooting only JPEG without post-processing is the equivalent of shooting polaroids.

    While I sometimes do a lot of post-processing, I don't want it to look like a lot was done to it.
     
  20. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 24, 2011
    #20
    I think that pictures should be taken with post processing in mind. This is a rather extreme sample of what I do... most times I only need to change white balance, levels, and add an unsharp mask.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  21. macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Over there------->
    #21
    That's a great way of putting it. Indeed, if you're shooting raw, then the goal of comparing "before and after" images from LR or Aperture edits is rather impossible: what exactly is the "before" image? Is it whatever the program happens to spit out after a few clicks of some 'auto' buttons? If you're shooting raw, "before" doesn't really exist.
     
  22. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2010
    Location:
    da' Nort Woods
    #22
    Great thread;)

    I was (hell, still am) guilty of relying too much on PP to fix bad photos. With much trial and error, I think the mindset of getting it "right" on camera has started to sink in.
    My goal will be to eventually get to the point where PP is only used to take my photos to a higher level
     
  23. thread starter macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #23
    I think the difference is that with film photography whilst there were the more expensive cameras the film was the same (well even the best brands were cheap) and it was only really the autofocus and burst rate that differed. However, there is a bit of a difference between the sensor in my 600D, the sensor in the 5dii and the sensor in a top of the range hasselblad.

    With film the image always seems to look great straight out of development. I started with film because it was the best way to get a great quality image on the cheap plus I could use my Dad's old hasselblad. I would expose using a lightmeter and then develop the photo's at home.

    Before all my digital photo's in my Flickr feed they are all scans from a Konica Autoreflex T4 and a Hasselblad 500ELM. Below are some examples of photo's that have no post processing so I can't provide any before and afters. I'm not sure if it's due to added contrast from my home processing or the shallow depth of field from medium format or simply the extreme sharpness and clarity of the Hasselblad lenses. Also I think the latitude of the film plays a big factor as the first picture looks slightly surreal in the fact that I cannot replicate the detail in the highlights and the shadows with my 600D!

    On a side note sorry that most of my pictures end up being my girlfriend as she is the only one that will take my constant snapping!

    These two all taken on the Hasselblad with a 150mm lens and Ilford 125 film. No post processing as I think that they just work out of the camera.

    [​IMG]
    On The Fence by acearchie, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Katie Cool by acearchie, on Flickr

    This one shows the incredible latitude of film again taken on the Hasselblad but this time with Kodak Ektar 100.

    [​IMG]
    Chilling on the Hill of Strawberry by acearchie, on Flickr

    Whilst not a great comparison I can never seem to get the subject exposed and still retain detail in the sky as easily as I could do with film!

    [​IMG]

    Great way of looking at it that seems to justify some of my post workflow. It sort of follows the idea that if the data is there why not use it. Most people on this forum shoot RAW for the very reason that they will have the extra detail to "rescue" or touch up a shot if needs by. I don't think anyone would shoot JPEG because they want to get it right in camera every time!

    That all being said I'm glad that I managed to get up a bit of a discussion which seems to have some interest!
     
  24. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #24
    I agree that many people think this what PP is for. I think there are all shades of types of PP.

    1) Sloppy Work fixed.
    2) Good work enhanced to match the photographer's vision.
    3) Good work enhanced to properly display on whichever media is appropriate.
    4) Creation of a new image using the digital bits captured.

    Re: #1: I try to take good images, but if I've got a job and an image that needs rescuing - I'm not proud, I'll get into PP up to my elbows to save the image. I'll try to not make that mistake again, and to learn of course. But, I have no problems with rescue work. I just don't rely on it.

    Re: #2: So much of what we see can not be accurately captured by a camera. Our eyes adjust automatically for huge dynamic ranges. So, dodgig and burning is just taking a tool with limited dynamic range and helping it fit what we saw.

    And, I think it's often the other way 'round, too Our eyes are constantly fooling us, and it's often the camera that is accurate. How often have you been surprised by just how much blue/cyan is in a shadow for example. Our eyes "see" the blue/cyan shadow, but our brain "corrects" before showing it to us. I suppose I could take a custom WB reading off the road surface in the shadows, or I can just WB it in PP. I don't really see the difference.

    Re: #3: A lot of PP is to help the image match the media. To make an image display properly on a sheet of matte paper for example, instead of the computer screen.

    Re: #4: Maybe not PP, technically. The act of inverting colours, or posterizing an image as examples. Would that count as PP?


    I love what digital PP allows photographers to do now. It was only 20 years or so ago that colour photographers started having as much fun as B&W photographers. Prior to that, if you put a group of B&W shooters in room (with beer of course) they would very soon start talking about Rodinal 1:14 at 68º vs 70º, and whether you should agitate for 17 seconds every 30 seconds, or 15 seconds every minute. Were powders or liquids better with hard or soft water. etc etc. And that was just the film developing.

    Then there were the paper choices, and the discussion about RC vs Fibre. And Fibre paper had dozens of surface textures, and should you use a 1 or 2 stage fix, etc etc etc. B&W photographers could go on for hours and hours, in mind-numbing detail about every little detail about creating an image. Trust me, I hung out with enough of them to know.

    Colour photographers, with a few exceptions, in the same room with the same beer, would be done in about an hour. For the most part the film developing conversation involved whether Fuji chemistry and Kodak film opening up the shadows better than Agfa chemistry. etc etc (but a lot less etc). Very few photographers printed their own colour negs, and even fewer developed them (those who did are the exception I mentioned earlier). And even if you did develop your own prints and negs, the range of choices in paper and chemistry, and what you could do with the chemistry was severely constrained - compared to what the B&W people had.

    Then came digital. Now photographers routinely control over the entire process, in the same way that B&W photographers have always had. Put a group of digital shooters in a room, add beer, and the conversation will become just mind numbing as the B&W group. Curves, and noise reduction, and the colour gamuts of Epson vs Canon printers, and whether adding 3rd party B&W profiles is worth it, etc etc etc (and there is a lot of etc!)

    I love the fact that I now have so much control over my final images (again - since I started in the B&W world). I find it frustrating as well, when things go weirdly wrong - and I find it a challenge trying to relearn so much, that other younger photographers just grew up.

    I think digital photography, and the PP control that we now have, is the best thing that has happened to my vocation. There are problems of course.... but overall, I think the benefits far far outweigh the problems.

    I'm sure I've gone on far too long about something I know far too little about, so I'll just go away and be quiet for awhile....
     
  25. macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #25
    It all depends on how well I manage the original exposure, which is what I shoot for (pun intended). I use Aperture, and find that the highlights and shadows (fill light) can really be helpful. This is my nephew during a visit to Kalamazoo a while back. Just a quick shot to capture the moment, and the exposure sucked. Enter A3.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    EXIF Summary: Canon XSi 1/60s f/4.0 ISO100 Tamron 28-75f/2.8@54mm

    Dale
     

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