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04-14-2014, 02:11 AM   #1
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Why post-process?

I assume that the point of serious work is to correct errors and improve the image. The question arises as to what in technical terms a good image is and what post-processing techniques are commonly used to help achieve one. These are of course big questions but I wonder if Pentaxians can point me in the direction of some introductions on the web. So far I've done a speed read of Bampton's quickstart guide to Lightroom as a copy of that is in the mail.

04-14-2014, 02:29 AM   #2
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I have never submitted to NG, but I always think their guidelines are very good to follow

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04-14-2014, 02:31 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sigmund Quote
I assume that the point of serious work is to correct errors and improve the image. The question arises as to what in technical terms a good image is and what post-processing techniques are commonly used to help achieve one. These are of course big questions but I wonder if Pentaxians can point me in the direction of some introductions on the web. So far I've done a speed read of Bampton's quickstart guide to Lightroom as a copy of that is in the mail.
Well, out-of-camera images often have flat colors, noise, low contrast, incorrect white balance, incorrect exposure, etc. Post-processing is used to correct those flaws and make the best possible image based on the original data that the camera captured.

More advanced users may also remove distortions, fix aberrations and vignetting, and clone out distracting details, just to name a few things.

My advice would be to load an original photo from your camera, play with the sliders and adjustments, and see what improves the photo the most overall. Practice makes perfect and it's better to read up a bit and practice a lot than the opposite There are also plenty of advanced tutorials on the net that are worth checking out once you master the basics. You'd be amazed and what some people can do in post!

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04-14-2014, 03:08 AM   #4
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Because you have the time.

Consider DxO and Capture One in addition to Lightroom.

04-14-2014, 03:19 AM   #5
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Computer time exacts a price, and my preference is to take pics rather than make them if that's not too twee.

Sigh, LR won't be enough?
04-14-2014, 03:29 AM   #6
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There are lots of others--but the following two are notable in that everything about the exposure is as desired--and yet significant post processing is desirable.

(1) More than corrections--a scene w/ large dynamic range (DR) relative to the camera DR needs to be exposed to the right--and sometimes (often?) overexposed as regards the final image, and then the exposure must be reduced.** And that process also leads to the need for other corrections--including brightness and contrast. A camera that has marginal DR can come out pretty low in contrast after this.
(2) Also most images are not as sharp as they could be (they don't "pop")--and sharpening is desirable.

Two others (I use a lot) are corrections for lens distortion and for perspective correction (PC)--but these are more in the way of corrections for what one could term faults (lens faults and not using a PC lens.)
_______
** (footnote) Many of us also overexpose when it is not needed--to keep the noise at a minimum in the darker areas--but this is not something everyone will agree with--and I gather it depends to some degree on the particular camera sensor and how true the color are--when pushed.
04-14-2014, 03:31 AM   #7
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LR should be enough, especially for the start. DxO and Capture One are alternatives. When you shoot your pictures in RAW format (.pef or .dng) the possibilities in post processing increase.
The official videos for lightroom can be found here:Learn Lightroom 5 | Adobe TV
I watched some of those for Lightroom 4 and found them quite helpful to find my way around and learn some hidden details. (Pressing the alt key for example changes a lot of the slider and button behaviour. )
04-14-2014, 03:40 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sigmund Quote
Why post-process?
Because with digital media, unlike analog, the degree of control you have in camera over that media is primitive and crude compared to competent post processing with powerful editing software.

04-14-2014, 03:41 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by icy Quote
I have never submitted to NG, but I always think their guidelines are very good to follow
Loved it!
04-14-2014, 05:47 AM   #10
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For the most part if you get your exposure correct in camera, you won't need much post-processing.

Most of that I do are cropping for magnification or framing, shadow recovery, exposure compensation, occasional sharpening and color adjustment.
04-14-2014, 06:06 AM   #11
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Raw data is what the camera sees. The jpeg that the camera makes according to what engineers thought would satisfy most users. If you post process yourself, you can make the raw data look like what you, the human, saw.
As some photography teacher once said, "Photography is lying to tell the truth." The way you saw that sunset? The camera has no feelings, it just saw some light.
Of course, this also depends on the genre and the type of processing. If you are taking a passport photo, better not photoshop it. If its journalism, better not add/remove anything! If its a portrait, feel free to make the person look good, but stay true to the person.

tl:dr; why post process? to make photos look the way you want.

Edit: Also, check the link in my signature. Most of those photos could never be achieved in-camera. But I tried to recreate the scene that I or other viewers have experienced.
04-14-2014, 07:09 AM   #12
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The camera creates JPG files according to a generic algorithm developed by the manufacturer. This algorithm is generic enough to suit most shooting conditions like sunny, cloudy, indoors, outdoors, etc. That broadness of application comes at a price. There will always be a compromise between contrast, colors, saturation, etc. You get some wiggle room by having "scenes" where the algorithm is tweaked for a specific situation and that will get you closer to an image that matches you mind's eye. To get even closer you should post process RAW image data. Working with the RAW image data you have the flexibility to edit things like white balance and sharpness which are not possible to the same degree in a JPG file where information is flattened compared to a JPG.

Like TER-OR said above, your post processing can be minimal. A tweak here and there may be all you need or want to do. If you shot the image right then you can use your computer's overwhelming horsepower and software tools to run circles around the battery powered processor in your camera.

I think a distinction should be drawn between post processing which to me is adjusting the coloration of the image to photoshopping which is altering the actual image. People "post processed" with film too. It was called dodge, burn, push, pull, etc. We do the same things today but with a mouse instead.
04-14-2014, 07:50 AM   #13
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If you just want to take snaps, as memories or whatever, post processing is a needless waste of time. Do get Lightroom and use it to keyword and catalog your images, otherwise how will you find that picture of aunt Ethel at the San Diego zoo 10 years down the road? A simple crop to get rid of something that intruded into the frame, or slight exposure adjustment and you are done. Lightroom can be set up so that default import settings are applied and for most shots that might be all that is ever required. The real importance of Lightroom is the catalog that lets you find the image you want in the midst of the digital garbage heap.

However, if you want to make the most of your image then post processing is required. Pressing the shutter button is just the beginning, it provides you with the raw material that with post processing becomes your vision. Or maybe many different visions, as there is no right or wrong way or need to have only one version. And don't think of post processing as a purely digital thing. Read Ansel Adams books and find out what he thought about post processing. For me pressing the shutter is probably less than 10% of the work involved in making an image. It might be the most fun, because you get to use all that hardware we love, but it's only a small part of the process.
04-14-2014, 08:45 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sigmund Quote
Computer time exacts a price, and my preference is to take pics rather than make them if that's not too twee.

Sigh, LR won't be enough?
Yes, for most people. It also makes any small adjustments you might make very easy and quick, sometimes automated. Like if you have a hundred shots of an event, LR can apply the same white balance to every one.

The Pentax software can get to the same place but in an unfriendly, inefficient way. I think it is most useful for fine-tuning the JPEG settings on the camera. If you can get those settings to produce images that you like, it will save you lots of computer time. You'll have to ignore "experts" like me who are RAW fundamentalists. They are your shots.
04-14-2014, 08:55 AM - 1 Like   #15
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The simple answer to "why post process?" is so that you can decide how you want your image to look rather that letting the guy that wrote the camera firmware decide how it should look.
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