Post-processing - photography or not?


(Ian SMITH) #1

A debate I have had (with myself) for a while is whether post-processing is still photography, or whether it's something else entirely. I eventually arrived at a view that yes, it is, but skills in post-processing are entirely different to skills in composition. Some of the errors of composition can be corrected afterwards, but for the most part post-processing targets different areas.


A friend eventually managed to badger me into trying, now I'm in the process of discovering what can be done. I have to say I'm surprised at the possibilities, and at the extraordinary amount of detail that is present in a raw format file.


By accident I discovered a package called CaptureOne, and having a Sony NEX camera I can use a lightweight version free of charge, or get the pro version for €50. My friend uses LightRoom and is happy with it; I'm going to stick with CaptureOne, I think.


Now, I have had an epiphany of sorts. I have changed to raw, and overnight I have rediscovered the pleasures of what I used to do in a darkroom for hours on end. Here's an example, at Le Conquet.


What does the panel think? And what packages do you use?



(Ian SMITH) #2

Thanks Steve, I'm getting more used to it. I'm amazed at the ability of post-processing software (and someone with the skills to use it) to make something good out of what seemed like a terrible photo. I have also been surprised at what a difference even a simple adjustment of an image can make.

There's a lot of mileage in this, even if we are no longer sitting in the dark.


(Steve Petty) #3

Hi Ian,

I spent many year working in my darkroom often completely through the night. I miss the smell of the chemicals the ambiance of the red light and the impression of being an obsessed alchemist locked away in his laboratory searching for the philosophers stone. I hanker after the "purity" of those days and I will be back working with "argentique" very soon.

The "purity" of those days is just an illusion though. Every image since the very first photos using a negative there has been post processing. Cropping of the image, unsharp mask, burning in, holding back,spotting, correction of verticals even hand tinting and creation of borders have always been in the armory of the darkroom developer.

I am always amazed at the resistance of this question to die as "post" has been with us for nearly 200 years but now that it is done with a computer it is somehow impure and a corruption of photography.

I think perhaps this is a reflection of our mentality to this technological era where all is possible at the press of a button and the association of computers now with work, surveillance, the "dark side" of life if you like where we are all swamped with tasks at the keyboard that seem to be without end. The positive side is the art that is created now and is accessible and visible to all. The inspiration for all us photographers is immense and on our desk. Yes, post processing in applied to practically all photos these days (even "straight" jpegs are already processed in camera) but why stop the tradition of 200 years?

Personally I use Lightroom CS5 and occasionally Photoshop. Also I'm very guilty of loving HDR and perhaps over using it. The trick is to be subtle with it. I use photomatics pro 5.

Happy shooting, and enjoy the "new world" of post processing. Welcome to the club. :)


(Stuart Wilson) #4

It is amazing what you can recover from an underexposed image. I know a photographer who deliberately underexposes and recovers in LR. You can't recover burnt out images. Funny that beacause most peolpe say expose to the right?


(Ian SMITH) #5

I'm amazed at the transformations that are possible with post-processing software.

This came out of the camera:

And this is after post-processing:

Astonishing.


(Patrick Bell) #6

I've used a datacolor thing for years, had to update for Win7/8 but ists pretty good especially with my dicky redgreen colour sight.


(Stuart Wilson) #7

Hi Theo, no worries, I faffed around with LR last night and found the camera calibration panel. I need to get one of those datacolor things.


(Theo Fruendt) #8

f you’re a Windows 7 user, you can check out Display Color Calibration: Choose Start→Control Panel and type calibrate display in the Search field. Click Calibrate Display Color.

Click Next and follow the instructions. If you’re a Mac OS X user and on a budget, use the Display Calibrator Assistant. Choose Apple→System Preferences and click Displays in the System Preferences dialog box. Then click the Color tab and click the Calibrate button. Answer the questions in the Display Calibrator Assistant.

In PS I have to get the English commands (mine are all German and translating directly is not good enough); right now I'm sitting at a "Linuxthing" In PS its the second (or third) field scroll down I think its colour calibration.... but will give you better details later this evening


(Stuart Wilson) #9

Ah, Apple. I tried the phase one product Theo. I guess I'm just so used to LR and PS that I found the phase one compicated to use. You mentioned a calibration tool in PS, can you advise on that?


(Theo Fruendt) #10

The Display Calibrator Assistant attempts to remove any colorcasts and get as neutral a gray background as it can. It also creates a profile of your monitor for Photoshop, Illustrator, and other programs so that those applications know how your monitor displays color.

But make sure that when you calibrate your monitor, you display an image for which you already know the color values. For example, a color scale and then use that image each and every time you calibrate.

Regarding prints: your goal is to match the digital image on your screen to the printed image. You should calibrate every so often because monitors can drift and degrade. Some experts say weekly is best; others are more liberal and say monthly is fine.

Well and most important! Not only is letting your monitor warm up a prerequisite before you calibrate, it’s also a good idea before you sit down to tackle any image-adjustment work. And don’t go out then for smoking your zig. It takes for your eyes to adjust about 5 minutes when you come back


(Patrick Bell) #11

Thanks Ian, I'll have a look at the Express version and see how it compares. I have only recently bought LR6 but already its being outpaced by upgrades only in the CC version.


(Patrick Bell) #12

Thanks for that Theo. I love Sony so far, I've been looking with envy at the new 5 axis stabilisation in the A7 and its low light reputation but not too happy about losing my Alpha fit lenses.


(Ian SMITH) #13

I discovered it by accident. On the Sony web page you can check to see if you can get it.


(Patrick Bell) #14

How come? I have two Sony cameras an A350 and a great new compact with raw RX100.


(Theo Fruendt) #15

Stuart its simple:

If you’re a Windows 7 user, you can check out Display Color Calibration: Choose Start→Control Panel and type calibrate display in the Search field. Click Calibrate Display Color. Click Next and follow the instructions. If you’re a Mac OS X user and on a budget, use the Display Calibrator Assistant. Choose Apple→System Preferences and click Displays in the System Preferences dialog box. Then click the Color tab and click the Calibrate button. Answer the questions in the Display Calibrator Assistant.


(Theo Fruendt) #16

Sure Patrick LR is easy. Its fast. Its good for most worx. Have still the 5 on the desktop and never upgraded (colleagues were complaining too much.) By the way, its was for my need the same to stay with CS5 and not upgrade to 6 ... Leitz is giving LR in its package. The thing is, because of my "tech-snaps" where very high res and accuracy is more important then aesthetics I'm much faster with Capture One (which I upgrade as it came with the CFV-50c Digital Back) otherwise I probably would be too stingy to buy it and would also fiddle with LR. Anyway, I think Sony is "cleaning up the entire market, their quality, performance, handling, weight, simply everything is just the best on the market today and will surly be in the future. Its just all this Nikon and Hasselblad thing in which I've buried my good cash ;-( .... Press people, because Capture One is lightyears better then LR in batch working, especially when generally working RAW/NEF. I would never burn my NEFs in PS, but then LR is better, intuitive, in archiving and the conversion is so lala.... There is no golden rule. I have mostly metal and metal composites in yachting and armouring, so its only about precision.


(Ian SMITH) #17

I'm lucky to have a Sony camera, and therefore I get the pro version for €50. :-)


(Patrick Bell) #18

Yes but its now Capture One 9 and at 279€ for single user (albeit 3 seats) I think I'll keep with LR6, not quite sure why you say its only for press people since its just got a few more bells and whistles than LR5 but I guess its how you use it. Perhaps with just a Sony A350 and an RX100 I dont' need 'better'?


(Stuart Wilson) #19

Hi Theo

I use both DX and FX but mostly FX now on the D610. I didn't realise there was a calibration tool in PS?


(Theo Fruendt) #20

Sensor, are they DX or FX? DX can either move to more warm or cold tones. Use the calibration in Photoshop.