How much post processing do you do?...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by slick316, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. slick316 macrumors 6502

    Sep 28, 2005
    I was just wondering how much post processing you guys normally do to your pics.

    I am just learning how to take pics and then I realize that I suck at processing them (I tend to overdue it and the pic looks all messed up and grainy and I lose detail, etc.)

    I took some pics yesterday and all I did was slightly adjust exposure and/or saturation, take a look and critique please.

    Please, any help would be appreciated :)
  2. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

    Nov 19, 2007
    Portland, OR
    Those don't look half bad, maybe a white balance issue on a few of them but still not bad. Do you shoot RAW? That's where I'd start, RAW files hold up infinitely better to editing than jpeg's do. Also, depending on what I'm going for, I'll normally just adjust for saturation, and then sharpen.

  3. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2008
    I just use PSE6 to PP the original RAW images, which by the way, are left intact by PSE 6. It means that with PSE I can "develop" a copy from the original, which in turn is saved in TIFF format. It's very simple to do, but you will have to give it a try to understand. PSE6 has the following options which can be selected in the pre-opening process:

    -WB control
    -Fill Light

    If you choose a RAW image to open, and then you move any of the sliders, you can see the change on the preview window. Then you have the option not to open the file, or to open it, or to quit, etc. I do PP as little as possible, maybe sharpening around 25% sometimes.
  4. slick316 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 28, 2005
    Thanks for the help guys.

    First off, I do shoot in RAW, I heard that its best to edit RAW so I started using it instead (I mean, 300+ photos on a 4GB card is still A LOT!)

    I think what I am really asking is, how would you PP my pics? For instance, the first one, what would you do to it to improve it?

    I'm going to get Photoshop from a friend soon (College discounts are decently cheap). I guess I can then understand how it all works.
  5. Aperture macrumors 68000


    Mar 19, 2006
    On my photos I normally slightly bump the exposure, vibrancy, & definition. If the image is noisy then I'll run an anti noise filter in Aperture or PS. That is about it.
  6. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

    Nov 19, 2007
    Portland, OR
    I'll mull it over (how I'd edit your photos) and get back to you. Right off the bat with the first one though, I'd crop it to agree with the rule of thirds. That's the main thing holding this one back in my eyes. Also, I'd probably not shoot with the sky as the background on this type of shot.

  7. dllavaneras macrumors 68000


    Feb 12, 2005
    Caracas, Venezuela
    That depends on the pic... I've shot some pics that I love straight out of the camera, and others that I "extensively" PP. I crop, maybe clone out something distracting, remove imperfections from people's faces, apply a NR filter, adjust shadows/highlights, WB, saturation and curves, and in some cases I apply an action, like the Dragan Effect. It really depends on the pic, my vision when I took it and what I want it for.
  8. jwt macrumors 6502

    Mar 28, 2007
    If you ask me, those look pretty good. I couldn't see the graininess that you describe, but maybe I just can't see it at the lower res. The only thing I'd have to say is that the white balance is off on one of them. Otherwise, I think you're being a bit hard on yourself.
  9. slick316 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 28, 2005
    I had to look up the rule of thirds, call me a dummy, but I didn't even know about that. I'm going to go through my pics tomorrow and do some cropping, see how the pics look then. Thanks for that, I normally shoot with the subject in the middle, guess I should do that less.

    jwt, what I meant was, I normally end up fubaring the pic when I process it since I don't really know what I am doing. All I did to the photos I attached was either increase the saturation a little, or adjust the exposure slightly if needed.

    I see all these great shots in the photo threads here, and I always wondered if the photos just look like that off the camera, or if heavy modifications were done on it.

    I think I'll pick up a book on Photoshop, any other photography/editing books I should get?
  10. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    As an 'old school' photographer, brought up on film, I try to make my pictures 'come together' in the camera... which means they'll need a bare minimum of PP tweaking. A lot of photographers think they can take any old shot and, with a bit of Photoshop magic, make it something special. Well, the results suggest otherwise.

    A well-exposed, well-lit, well-composed shot can be improved in post-production (and a bit of PP is essential when shooting RAW). But a badly lit, ill-considered shot isn't really worth the time and effort to try and 'save' it in Photoshop.

    Instead of a book about Photoshop, I'd recommend nipping along to the library and checking out books on basic photographic techniques ('rule of thirds', etc), so that you learn to produce well-seen RAW images. Learning about Photoshop first seems like trying to run before you can walk. :)
  11. fett macrumors 6502


    Nov 5, 2007
    Calgary, AB
    I'm a "new school" photographer and long time user of photoshop. I've never been afraid to post process my photos but I agree 100% with what Doylem just said. Work to get the photo the best you can out of the camera then use post to tweak the photo but the photo has to be able to stand on its own before I even work on it.

    To answer your question I try to do as little post processing as my idea of what the final photo should be will allow.
  12. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I'm with Aperture and Doylem. Although I'm "new school" (due to my age), I'm far from a PS expert, and think photography is the act, and the product of taking photos; while HDR, extensive editing, or even the addition of a "texture" to the image means you're heading into digital imaging/manipulation, and away from photography.

    That doesn't mean photographers can't edit photos beyond the basics. Touching stuff the contrast and brightness, or even eliminating (cloning out) a small object in the grass is OK. It's to eliminate annoyances that were present that detract from the subject. Ok, I get that. I don't really do it myself, but I get it. However, once it stops looking like something you could have produced on the first try, and you start adding in skies and stuff, then it's farther than I'd go.

    My friend is a better photographer than me, and he also gets heavy on the manipulation. He even showed me photos of websites where you can buy nicer skies. :p
  13. Chappers macrumors 68020


    Aug 12, 2003
    At home
    I try and keep tweaking to a minimum but there are some great tools out there for the manipulation of your photos
  14. thr33face macrumors 6502

    May 28, 2006
    looking thorough my lightroom gallery in the "before/after" mode made me realize that i do less pp than i thought.

    what i mostly do is:
    -adjust the wb
    -apply sharpening
    -tone curve adjustements
    -crop or straighten
    -fine tune some colours to match what i saw/imagined

    and then sometimes:
    -adjust the exposure
    -shadow/highlight toning (slight)

    the colour sliders go wild when i do a bnw conversion (to bring out the things i want)
  15. operator207 macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2007
    +1 to all the above.

    I purposely have not been doing any PP on my photos to force myself to shoot better photos. I have a nice sized gallery of non-PPed photos. If I am shooting for more than learning I will PP. I took some pictures of a car for a friend, and I took some pictures of a wreck on the highway (everyone was ok, and I was in my car on the side of the road, not driving). Those I cropped, but that was all.

    For me this is the best way, I look at the photos, and see that I screwed up, now I am thinking what settings should I change on the camera, not what filters or settings I can mess with in PP to get it to look normal.
  16. slick316 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 28, 2005
    Thanks for the great advice, it really is helping me a lot.

    I think I will look into basic photography first (I mean, I didn't know what the rule of thirds was until this thread) before I invest in software for PP.

    I think I am set equipment wise, so I really should just spend the time and learn how to use my D80, and understand basic stuff like lighting.

    If you have any suggestions on books that might help me, I would appreciate it.
  17. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2003
    Understanding Exposure and Learning to see Creatively by Bryan Peterson and Digital Photograph Master Class by Tom Ang
  18. goodmorning macrumors member

    May 15, 2008
    As a new-schooler, this website has helped me a ton in how I approach photography, I hope it helps-
  19. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Nuff said!

    Old school photographer with a love for the new school, but I do agree with those that say edit in camera. Make it work through the lens your PP methods will be a lot easier.
  20. seenew macrumors 68000


    Dec 1, 2005
    I don't see the point in shunning new tools that can aid or enhance your photos. Of course you shouldn't rely on these tools alone to make a geat image (it won't happen!), but you should definitely utilize what's been made available to you through advances in technology.
  21. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Agreed. The part that I tried getting through my students in college was relying on those tools to fix mistakes in the field. The same went for video production. You can't fix blur or camera shake, or "just ugly bad footage and audio."
  22. arogge macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2002
    I used to do much more post-processing, and it was not very consistent in quality. Now I barely do any post-processing, as I simply have no time to waste on it. I want my images developed and processed for output without delays. Some people can spend five minutes or more messing with layers and filters and other tools in software nowadays, but it would take too many years for me to do that. I rely on the image quality from the camera and film, and also on getting the proper settings in-camera instead of messing with software processing.
  23. Col127 macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2003
    interesting thread... i've always wondered about post processing. do photographers generally run a set of "global" post processing commands on all their photos or do they go in one by one and tweak/adjust where necessary?

    my wedding photographer told me he tends to do general post processing and then goes in and tweaks individually.

    i'd love to learn how to do it, but don't know where to start either. i always shot in RAW and move the sliders around, but is there anything else?
  24. WPB2 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 1, 2008
    Southeast, LA
  25. rhett7660 macrumors G4


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    I highly recommend this book for digital photographers:

    It pretty much covers what you are looking to do. It goes through Scott Kelby's work flow from start to finish. Well worth a read and an IMHO an excellent resource to have in your library.

    For me I want to get as good as shot as I can within the camera with very minimal amount of tweaks in photoshop. But in some cases you just have to use photoshop to recovery the shot.

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