Just how far to go when processing an image …

Over the years digital camera technology has improved no end & the cameras themselves become cheaper… alongside this image processing technology has improved & the number of products available increased exponentially. I for one think we are very fortunate to have such an array of amazing products from which to choose.

How many hours did photographers like Ansell Adams, Edward Weston – just to mention a couple – spend in their dark room? What would Adams have done with today’s dark room?

Most often than not a raw image straight from a digital camera needs some sort of post processing to give it depth … if it’s a jpg then the camera has applied enhancements set in that camera. Anyone who boasts their image has not been ‘touched’ is deceiving themselves & us.

I have no experience in studio work so I cannot offer my thoughts there. However in landscape photography typically we look at a scene, work it, take the shot. There & then we take a look on the screen & if it’s not good we take it again if possible. Back home we download the images do a quick critique & decide which are worth spending time, often hours, editing … looking at technical aspects such as composition, exposure, focus, subject interest. The raw image from the camera is generally quite flat so will need some enhancements & our editing software can fix basics like straighten, contrast & white balance very easily & quickly. If that is enough then stop. However if you are not happy then go further. This is where our software can excel … if you know your software & have a vision of your image then there is no limit to your creative powers!

If edits are handled with a ‘gentle hand/brush’ they can make so much difference in transforming a ordinary flat image to a wow image & in this process then I think we can be proud of our efforts & not deny the fact that our image has been enhanced. Working our way round some of these new programmes in itself is an accomplishment especially to those of us who do not have the background experience of techniques in the dark room.

How far we go depends on how & where our image is to be displayed! In my mind there are almost no boundaries say in fine art work or to a certain extent landscape photography, however photo journalism, historical photos are another kettle of fish. Weddings & portraiture! It is all very subjective … also for consideration is the ‘time’ factor … how much time are you prepared to spend in front of the computer to create a wow image? How much time do you have? Developing a basic workflow suitable for you takes time but can also save so much time in the end! Get to know your editing programme … of course it goes without saying know your camera & it’s settings!!

I am not a pro by any means just someone who enjoys photography & working on an image I feel worthy of printing. I would not hesitate to tell anyone who asked what processes I have used. I have my own guidelines as to how far I go with edits such as removing objects & changing skies … which I know pros do regularly!

Getting just the right look to an image in the digital darkroom isn’t as easy as some may suppose … & quite often I find myself doing a double take … looking back on any image a week or so later I think ok I went too far here or perhaps I can do more there or something different here! Sometimes a totally new look works for the same image … Ahh the magic of the digital darkroom! If you work long enough with a programme you tend to develop ‘an eye’ & can see when you have gone too far … I am working on refining that ‘eye’! & yes sometimes two minutes just does the trick:)

Just my thoughts. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries you may begin a new trend …
Happy creating:)

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