Photography, unlike any other art portrays reality, right? Well… ummm… maybe… kind of. Serious amateur, semi-pro and professional photographers all do this thing called post processing. Using tools such as Adobe Lightroom, Camera RAW and Photoshop, we adjust our photos to fit our vision… our style. These adjustments might result in an accurate depiction of the subject, or might result in something that looks quite a bit different than reality. And to be honest, this isn’t a new trend that has evolved with the advent of digital photography. Film masters such as Ansel Adams were experts at manipulating their images in the darkroom.
There’s no question that digital work flow makes image manipulation more available to a wider portion of photography enthusiasts. Most serious photographers, again serious amateur, semi-pro and pro, shoot in RAW mode. RAW can be thought of as the digital negative. The casual shooter and those that haven’t really learned how to deal with post processing techniques tend to shoot in JPG mode. JPG, e.g. J-Peg, is the most common form of photography you see posted on line. For JPG shooters, the software in the camera makes the decisions concerning sharpness, color balance, contrast, saturation, and other photographic attributes. The RAW photographers make those choices after capture using software.
To the end viewer of photography, shall we call them fine art photography collectors, the process probably isn’t all that important. The image either pleases them, or stirs some emotion, or it doesn’t. For novice photographer, would be serious amateurs, they may wonder why their photographs don’t look like the ones they see produced by their favorite artists. It is what happens after capture, outside the camera that creates these differences. With all that said, I thought it might be fun to share a before and after view of a recent photograph. One is what the RAW image looked like, with everything left as shot. The other represents my vision, my tweaks after capture. Perhaps sometime in the future I’ll do a video of working up an image so others can see my process. But for now, a simple before and after.
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Dang! What an amazing transformation…
Thanks for the comment Karen. The RAW files produced in modern digital cameras are quite flat. The file contains, well, the raw data. The artist then sets the attributes that result in the final image. You may have seen a camera with various shooting modes. Things like “landscape,” “portrait,” etc. In those modes the camera uses a set algorithm to determine things like contrast, color saturation and other factors. Basically the camera’s onboard computer does the post processing of the “raw” data.