Before and After - My Thoughts on Post Processing

I decided this post I made yesterday on the new Columbia Valley Photography Club facebook page (which I spoke about starting in my previous blog post) would fit in nicely here on the blog, since I have created both as a way to share images and thoughts regarding photography, including techniques, wedding venues, portrait ideas and just my general thoughts on various subjects, to help current and future clients, as well as my fellow photographers...

Since I want this to be a place people come to learn and be inspired, I've decided to share with you the before and after (the equivalent of a magician revealing his tricks, or a KISS member with no makeup)

This is what a RAW file looks like out of the camera.. muddy, grey, blurry, unsaturated... but this file contains all the necessary information to turn it into the image on the right. (which is much closer to reality)

A lot of professionals choose to keep their 'tricks' to themselves, I find that selfish, and I actually believe sharing your tricks forces you to keep improving.

Amateur photographers are always mystified as to "why my photos don't look like that" When they've bought all the right gear and shot the perfect exposure.

Most amateur photographers have a strange notion that a professional photographer should be able to take the perfect photo with his camera, and if done properly, no post processing should be required..

This is simply wrong. Our cameras are just tools, like a paint brush, or a tattoo gun. They have no idea what they're doing, and even when we tell them all the right things, there is still more work on our end to be done, people give cameras WAY too much credit.. You would never tell Picasso "You must have a nice paint brush!"

When you shoot in JPG, the camera is actually "Photoshopping" the image for you, boosting the contrast, saturation, picking a white balance. The result is a "digitally photoshopped" image, which you have little to no control over. When you shoot in RAW however, the camera collects all the information into a file, which you can then manipulate and "pull out" detail/ colour/ exposure etc..

Most professional photographs today are created as much in a computer, as they are in a camera (if not way more). The techniques used in Photoshop are actually the same as the techniques used in the darkroom days, just a digital version!

The image on the right is the result of processing the RAW image on the left in Photoshop.

This image took about 10 minutes to process and includes only a hand full of alterations including: increased contrast, corrected white balance, corrected colour saturation, removed the stick from the bottom left of the falls and stretched the bushes in the bottom right to cover the ugly gravel. The biggest advantage to shooting RAW is the ability to save highlight and shadow detail. All the information is in the file, you just have to pull out whatever you want.

I usually don't remove anything more than ugly branches and garbage, but I am not afraid to manipulate any photo in any way that I think might improve the image. My only goal as a photographer is to create beautiful art, using photography as my medium.

Unless you are a journalist working for a newspaper, there is nothing wrong with manipulating a photograph in any way you like. It's all about creating art.