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05-11-2019, 04:51 PM   #1
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How much is enough - post processing

Just musing over discussions and comments over a period of time, which I have thought about before, and the question is around post processing.

My personal opinion is that I would process an image until it looks as I saw it when I took it, an alternative opinion would be described as "I'll just tweak this a little more to make it better"

So where does everyone else stop? As a photographer do you feel it is better to accurately reproduce the real world, or as an artist does producing the perfect image justify tweaking reality?

I'm interested to get opinions

05-11-2019, 05:19 PM - 4 Likes   #2
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05-11-2019, 05:22 PM - 3 Likes   #3
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for me, it depends upon the intent: am I trying to display an accurate depiction of what I saw through the viewfinder or am I giving an abstract or alternative view of it?
05-11-2019, 05:58 PM - 2 Likes   #4
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I donít like tweaking it to look different from the real world, I like it to be as accurate as it can be to the real world image as seen by my eyes.

05-11-2019, 06:21 PM - 3 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
"Art is never finished, only abandoned" - Leonardo da Vinci
Mr. da Vinci was pretty good at knowing when to " abandon " his artwork though, just sayin'.........................................
05-11-2019, 07:12 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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One thing I do in post processing is remove distractions like unwanted reflections or high contrast objects that take your eyes away from the subject.

I also work hard on color correction and white balance because bad white balance can ruin an image.

For sharpening, in Photoshop, I will sharpen one layer and adjust opacity to blend it with the original. I can also use a layer to select which parts of the image to sharpen and which to leave soft, like the sky.

I do lots of flipping back and forth between the sharpened and un-sharpened version. I want to do enough sharpening to notice it looks better, but no so much it creates distracting artifacts or looks fake. Hard to exactly know that balance.

When I get to printing, I print a 4x6 to check color before I do a big print. (On the same paper.) I use a duplicate layer with Screen turned on if I need a brighter image.

Do I do this for every print? No. Do I do it for prints worth framing? Yes.
05-11-2019, 07:16 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I definitely favour a realistic look and also making the scene look like I remember.

But I think what is particularly important is to make the image how YOU like it! Its great when a photographer makes their own statement and style of how photos should look.
05-11-2019, 08:14 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Photography, as any other form of art, is a creative process. A pure and faithful reproduction of reality could be right but not necessarily. Depends on your intent.

For me (mainly nature photography) the goal is to trigger emotions in the observer comparable to what I felt when taking the picture. Sometimes this is done with an exact reproduction of reality but sometimes not. Sometimes you use special techniques or post-processing to emphasize some aspects of your subject that transmit a better message to the viewer. Sure you have the risk to look artificial or fakish, but at the end, at least for me, you are trying to convey feelings more than an exact copy of the reality in front of you.

Think of Van Gogh's "Starry Night". Far from an exact representation of a night sky, but a masterpiece that reflects what a tormented mind feels at a night sky.

05-12-2019, 12:36 AM - 9 Likes   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Liney Quote
Just musing over discussions and comments over a period of time, which I have thought about before, and the question is around post processing.

My personal opinion is that I would process an image until it looks as I saw it when I took it, an alternative opinion would be described as "I'll just tweak this a little more to make it better"

So where does everyone else stop? As a photographer do you feel it is better to accurately reproduce the real world, or as an artist does producing the perfect image justify tweaking reality?

I'm interested to get opinions
Iím done when it looks like how I wanted to see it. Reality be damned, Iím a photographer, not a Xerox machine.
05-12-2019, 12:47 AM - 2 Likes   #10
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I don't "art" my photos, but I try to remove flaws such as exposure, contrast, framing, colour issues.
05-12-2019, 12:58 AM - 3 Likes   #11
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I used to limit my processing only to making the photo as accurate as possible to the real world scene, but lately I've been allowing myself more freedom to take things beyond strict realism. Either that means that I'm allowing myself more creative scope now, or it means that my taste has been degraded by constant exposure to over-processed photos on the internet, depending on your point of view.

But there's one thing I'm completely certain about. Nobody gets to dictate rules about how others should express themselves through photography. Nobody.
05-12-2019, 01:15 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
I’m done when it looks like how I wanted to see it. Reality be damned, I’m a photographer, not a Xerox machine.
Usually, for me, this has been suggested by some aspect or quality of what I've seen, and I'm somehow trying to highlight, isolate, or emphasize that particular aspect. Sometimes I'm aiming to document exactly what I've seen. It depends on the intent behind the photograph.

Last edited by rjbrett; 05-12-2019 at 01:44 AM.
05-12-2019, 01:52 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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That's a very debatable and subjective discussion but I think every artist has the right to process his work the way he wants. You might not like it but most likely somebody else will.

Personally I tend to go for what I think it is a "natural" look. Although some people might say it doesn't look so natural because often I shoot in high dynamic range conditions and I like to push my shadows a lot. I enjoy post-processing, but I don't like to spend a lot of time doing it. A bit of noise reduction, a bit of sharpening, lens corrections, deal with the shadows and highlights, set the WB, bring on the details, drop a digital graduated ND and I'm done. With some shots I have problems. One thing that I noticed is that the better the original shot is, the less time I spend post-processing. Usually when I tend to spend a lot of time post-processing a shot it means that the original was flawed and I don't know where to go in post. When the original is good, I spend less time and the post-processing way is obvious, the shot processes itself, so to say. Sometimes if I spend more than five minutes wondering what to do in post I get the feeling the shot is not that great and I am tempted to give it up entirely and delete it. Maybe somebody with more skill can salvage it, but I'm no expert, my post-processing workflow is quite basic.
05-12-2019, 02:33 AM - 1 Like   #14
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Personally, I try to avoid posterization -- excessive degrees of post processing that draw the viewer's attention to the processing itself and away from the image. Essentially, I'm inviting the viewer to see what I saw in a given scene, both visually and emotionally. That may mean that I have to make the "reality" a little more perfect than it actually was. The art is in the refinement, in the skill, and in knowing where to stop before it looks heavy-handed. Occasionally, I even clone out stuff -- birds in the far distance that could be taken for sensor dust, nasty contrails, a stubborn cigarette butt that escaped my edge patrol -- you get the idea. But then again, it all depends on the purpose of the final image. There are sure uses where more or even less post procession may be in order.

Otherwise, it is and should be a matter of taste. Just like in other spheres of life, however, there remains the observation that some people seem to have that taste while others, well, do not.

Last edited by Madaboutpix; 05-12-2019 at 02:48 AM. Reason: precision
05-12-2019, 02:46 AM - 2 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Liney Quote
I'm interested to get opinions
Good, because that's what you'll get

First of all, I don't really think there is any such thing as photography representing things "the way I saw it". For starters it's a three dimensional scene projected onto a two dimensional medium - through a lens that will warp perspective one way or another. But that's another debate altogether.

I'm rather inconsistent in my processing. Sometimes I stick to adjusting the basics only (fix whitebalance, pull down the highlights, raise the shadows, pull in the the white and black points, often reduce saturation somewhat, sometimes crop a bit) - in other words staying fairly close to "what I saw". Other times I can go through a much more complex processing e.g. adjusting exposure and colour locally to focus attention, remove distractions etc. I tend to spend more time processing images in b&w than in colour, though. I think we tend to accept more outrageous processing as "real" when colours are removed and thus b&w leaves more room for artistic interpretation while still pleasing the crowd. And we all want to please the crowd, don't we. (Yes, yes, I shoot for myself and all that, but if I didn't care about what others think, why would I post my images?)
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