As a full time, professional landscape photographer, I am often required through workshops and 1-2-1 private tuition days, to assist people in helping them develop their photography skills. I must hear the following sentence at least once a week if not more. “I hate post processing, I hate spending time in front of a computer editing images. I just want to get it right in camera in the first place.” Now I believe that you should want to strive to capture the very best quality images that you can in camera by using all of the knowledge that you have built up, the experience that you have gained and the equipment that you have so heavily invested in but and for me it’s a big BUT, post processing using an image editing program is a major part of creating beautiful images. For me it is an essential part of my process and yet so many people both undervalue and under develop their skills in front of a computer.
I understand also that your tastes change over time and that as you develop more as a photographer, so do your expectations in what you consider a quality image to be. I’ll give you an example.
Below is a photograph that I took way back in October 2011 while visiting Grizedale Forest near Coniston in the beautiful Lake District. I owned a Canon 5D MK2 DSLR and a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens. It was 9.30am and the sun had risen two hours earlier. It was an atmospheric morning with heavy mist present pre-dawn which started to burn off as the sun rose higher in the sky. I was wandering around through the overgrowth, hiking boots wet through from the heavy dew that had formed overnight. I saw over the road this wonderful shaft of light streaming through the trees, illuminating the grasses as it went. I rushed over, positioned the tripod and got what I now consider to be a terrible image. It was in the days before I was using LEE filters and it was a single exposure image but the element of the image that disappoints me more is the composition or rather the lack of it. I photographed far more of the scene than I needed to in order to be sure that I at least had what it was that interested me in the first place rather than concentrating solely on the element I was most attracted to (which was the ray of light and the surrounding trees).
So I edited the image in October 2011 and forgot all about it until today when I was going back through some old folders wondering what I could reprocess now that my techniques have improved immeasurably.
The following three images show you the journey.
- The first image is the original raw file simply opened in Photoshop CC and converted to JPEG. Nothing else has been done. Notice the inclusion of a lot of the sky and dead space on the right?
- The second image is my original edit from October 2011. Terrible crop on the composition and the quality of the editing was shockingly bad. Of course at the time I thought it was fantastic and that I was far better than I clearly was.
- The third image is a fresh edit from today (5th August 2016). What a difference a bit of knowledge in Photoshop can give you and of course the ability to see what it is you want when creating a high quality photograph.
I find the difference startling and I am still constantly amazed at how far people can develop over a period of time. It is one of the reasons why I love teaching so much, I get to be involved in helping people improve their photography and gain so much motivation and enjoyment in doing so.
So the purpose of this blog really is to have people understand that the art of post-processing requires almost as much time, energy and dedication as learning the art of using a camera.
I do teach Photoshop and also Nik Software on a 1-2-1 basis only. If interested, please contact me for details. Also do feel free to sign up for my free regular newsletters by clicking here. It only take twenty seconds.
Many thanks for reading.